A year ago, after a few months of “daily painting” and starting a new art blog, I felt it was time to join an online print service. Upon reading a few reviews of different companies, I decided on RedBubble.
Why did I originally choose RedBubble? Their website had a fun, inviting feel to it, and they seemed to have a thriving community of artists, photographers, and writers, where people at all skill levels were coming together to showcase their latest works.
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Immediately upon joining, I began receiving supportive comments from other members, since RedBubble has a great “play nice” policy, and maintains an encouraging environment for its artists. There are a few forums where critique is appropriate, but in general the goal of the community is for artists to cheer each other on as they work.
As for the actual business side, RedBubble offers some great products, including art prints, clothing, and stickers. The postcards are particularly useful for artists, as they are affordable and make great promotional tools.
I’ve sold some items through RedBubble and ordered a few myself to take to festivals, and the prints arrived promptly and looked great.
It’s important to note that RedBubble doesn’t do a whole lot of marketing for its sellers though—it’s basically up to the artists to promote their work and bring buyers to their portfolios.
However, there are two big benefits I’ve gotten from my year on the Bubble: the first is online presence and the second is contacts.
A year ago, my blog was brand new and hard to find. Once I began posting work on RedBubble (and linking to my blog), I was much easier to find online, leading to new opportunities and potential buyers. I also use RedBubble’s “journal” feature to share thoughts and opinions on art, which brings new viewers to my portfolio and blog.
And, in addition to increasing my online presence, I’ve also gotten a chance to network with many other artists.
I jumped on the opportunity to host a few groups, and joined in a collaborative workshop between artists and photographers. I joined RedBubble at a time of big transition in my life: art classes were no longer an option financially, and I found myself turning to online networks for inspiration and support. I’ve met some wonderful artists through the RedBubble community and learned some valuable lessons through the group forums.
Of course, as with any company, RedBubble is not without its drawbacks. Specifically, there was a skirmish earlier in the year when some members were offended by some t-shirts being sold on RedBubble, and, although it was eventually resolved, the situation did cause a rift in the community.
It’s also not the best place to go if you want brutally honest criticism, which is something artists need to hear from time to time in order to grow. Everything tends to be very nice, instead.
And ultimately, RedBubble is a business and needs to make money; therefore, the prices on some of the products are a little high, although as I mentioned before, not much marketing is done on behalf of the artists.
That said, I’ve been a loyal “Bubbler” for a year and am happy with what the experience has done for me so far. Many of the artists joke about their RedBubble “addiction,” and I can attest that it will definitely cut into your creative time if you aren’t careful.
I’ve recommended RedBubble to friends and family (both artists and art buyers) and will continue to do so. Since it doesn’t cost a thing to join, I know I’m not doing them a disservice. . . they can always move on to another print service if they don’t like it, and you can’t lose just by trying it out.