Sunday, April 14, 2019

Review - Printful for Artists



As an artist running a business with just one employee (aka. myself) and not a lot of storage space, I'm always looking for time-saving and space-saving measures so that I can focus more on art and less on other tasks that take time away from creating.  I'm at a unique position in my business' growth where I don't have a huge amount of print sales, but the few that I do get are enough to take up a good chunk of the morning to prep, package, and send out on my own.

This made Printful a good choice for me to look into until I feel comfortable expanding to printing art on my own professional printer at home and hiring more employees.  I have been using it for a little over a year and wanted to share my experience with it for those who may find themselves in a similar position as myself!

What is Printful?


Printful is a print on demand service that will drop ship directly to your customers on your behalf. This service seamlessly integrates with Etsy, WooCommerce, Shopify, and most major shop options. They take a cut of the profits and handle the printing and shipping.

They will also process returns on your behalf with you acting as an intermediary for your customers. Printful fulfills orders mainly to the US, but they have been slowly adding fulfillment centers in Europe so that they can quickly deliver items overseas.

Printful is a completely white label service, which means they will never include any of their branding within your orders. If for some reason you do not want them to integrate with your shop, you can also place orders with them to drop ship manually for you without requiring shop integration.


What Does it Cost?

Like most print on demand companies, there is no monthly fee, rather they only make money when you sell a product.  There is a base price for the cost of the item and labor, and a percentage on top of this base price which the company takes a share of.

You can set your own list price per item in your shop to suit the profit margin you want to see with each item.  Printful has a handy estimation tool so you can see exactly how much you'll make per item when you set your list price.

How is the Quality?

I have used Printful primarily to purchase luster prints, so I cannot speak to the quality of their many other products.  As far as print surfaces, they offer matte, luster, and canvas prints.

I chose their luster prints because I prefer a semi-gloss finish form y art.  Their luster prints are gorgeous and provide excellent color reproduction for some of my most difficult prints, such as dark digital pieces with subtle color like the one pictured below.

My Kushiel's Dart print arrived rolled in tissue paper inside of a mailing tube.
An example of the branding included on the outside of the package and the tightly wrapped print.

An example of the branded pack-in slip that's included for free with orders.
The main downside of using Printful for selling prints is that prints are restricted to standard sizes, meaning if you have art that would not fit in standard frames that any prints you make of them will have white borders included (unless you upload a source file that does something creative with these borders).

My very long non-standard Art Nouveau prints look like this, for example. I generally instruct my customers that they can either crop these borders off themselves or simply mat over the white when framing a piece:


The Ordering Process

  1. Once an order is placed in your shop, the cost of the order is deducted from your Printful Wallet (which you can set to refill automatically when funds are needed).
  2. Then, Printful will print and pack your order.  Basic branding information is included, such as your logo, your website, and a brief note you can customize for your customers (ie. a thank you note, coupon code, etc.).  Additionally, you can pay extra and include more advanced pack-ins, like postcards which you provide to Printful's warehouse. 
  3.  Once your order is shipped, Printful will automatically update the order in your shop with the tracking information.
NOTE:  A small flaw I've found in Etsy's integration with Printful is that gift notes from Etsy Orders are not automatically imported into Printful.  You will need to quickly copy and paste the note in manually, should you wish the order to be sent out with the gift message!  You'll usually have 24 hours to do this before the print is produced and shipped automatically.  You can also pause the order from within Printful till you get a chance to enter the message at your convenience.

The Returns Process


I've had a few isolated incidents during the holiday rush that my prints did not arrive on time or were lost in the mail. In these cases, Printful took on the burden of re-printing and re-shipping the order while I kept the customer updated about Printful's progress. I have not yet had to have a customer return a print, but if I do in the future, by default they are to send damaged prints back to Printful, who will then replace the print at their cost.

They have a few specific instances in which they will not cover returns.  For all other cases, they will handle things on a case by case basis. You can also opt to personally handle all returns yourself.

Other Useful Tools

Another thing I adore about Printful is their Mockup Generator. This handy tool allows you to create mockup images that help your customers understand the size and scale of your art items and can provide an attractive context to your prints.

I like to use this mockup of a print being held in someone's hands to provide a personal touch, show how borders might look on the print so there aren't any surprises for my customers, as well as provide them with a general idea of scale. The size of the print in the mockup can also be changed to match your print size accurately!  There are also 'lifestyle' mockup options that show the print displayed in a living space.
A mockup image generated of my Keeper of Secrets print.
Printful also has a warehouse storage and fulfillment service you can utilize if you'd like your shop's items to be packed in the same package, but do not have all of them produced via Printful.  I have not tried their warehousing myself yet, but you can read more information about this service here.

Strategies for Using Printful


While Printful is excellent for providing quick and easy prints for customers, I know there are customers out there who appreciate a personal touch!  Another handy aspect of Printful is that I can use them to fulfill specific variants within a single listing with my Etsy shop.  

This means that I can offer quick unsigned options fulfilled via Printful for people who want to save money and then create an additional variant in the same listing for a hand-signed Giclee at a higher cost that I would fulfill personally.  It's the best of both worlds!  Customers can purchase the price point that suits their budgets, while also getting a sense of the perceived value of my signed giclees when compared to my unsigned luster prints, since they are both listed as variants on a single item listing.

Final Thoughts


I've been using Printful for a little over a year now and have been pleased with how it's allowed me to spend more time creating art and focusing on other tasks!  I plan to expand my integration into other products, as well as look into using Art of Where to help round out my product selection (review forthcoming).  I highly recommend Printful for those who want to keep things simple or who have no desire to take on the burden of printing products themselves, storing inventory, etc.

Questions about Printful or anything I've left out?  Let me know in comments and I'll keep this article updated with the answers!



If you found this review helpful and would like to consider using Printful for your business, please consider using my referral link

It will net me a little kickback, which is always appreciated and helps make it easier for me to keep writing articles. I hope it proves as useful for you all as it has for me!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Social Media for Artists 101 & 102 (v2)

Thanks to the folks who turned out for my panels about social media basics for artists at DragonCon 2017!  Here are the PowerPoint presentation for your convenience!


You can watch the previous version of this presentation here!  I'll be posting past versions of the presentation as reference so we can point and laugh at these old presentations, as well as study how trends have changed over time (which helps with predicting future trends).

Questions? Comments?  Feel free to leave them in the comments so we can continue the discussion from the panels!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Post Tags in Beta on Patreon

Good news for Patreon users!  The ability to tag posts with topics is in beta to a small percentage of users on Patreon!  These post tags will allow users to organize their posts by unique tags, which will make things like finding Rewards and referencing older posts much easier.

You can read more about this new feature here.  But the long of the short of it in beta phase is this:

  • Maximum amount of 5 tags allowed per post.
  • Tags will sort your user posts only and don't apply to other user's posts.
  • Some tags will be auto-generated for you, mainly your Reward tier tags by Pledge amount and Public/Private posts.  (See the screenshots below)
  • Patron-Only posts are blank when displayed in tag feeds where a user is not a Patron. (See the screenshots below)
  • No way to tag multiple posts at once.

Here's how the tags currently look on my art Patreon. The archive of all tags used shows up on the left. You currently cannot toggle this archive list on and off:


Here's how Patrons-only posts look to non-Patrons:


I'm personally planning to set up a Library section in the top of my bio/intro post that will link to my main Rewards and other topics, such as my finished paintings and main projects.  This would make things so much easier to find for new Patrons who might be overwhelmed by the stream of posts.

EDIT: I've tweaked my intro section to test out the new functionality of tags. See the tags in action here!

The highlighted sections of these screenshots show hyperlinks which link to tagged posts.




How do you plan to use the tags?  Share in comments!


Friday, June 24, 2016

Stock VS Art: Human Naka


I've missed a couple of months of these features, but I'm back again with this lovely art!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Stock VS Art Feature: Ambush


It's that time of month again! Every month, I want to feature the creative works people have done using my stock.

This month we have a lovely piece by Mahogany-Fay where I got to live out my gunslinging pirate-esque fantasy in someone's work!

Funny enough, she somewhat resembles a tabletop character I RP these days. Talk about serendipity!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Stock VS Art Feature: Apocalypse Death

I thought it might be fun to start a tradition of Stock vs. Art features starring some of my favorite work you creative folks have made using my stock! Maybe you'll discover some new art to inspire you as well. Enjoy!

Today I'm featuring the work of Jessica Douglas, her glorious Horseman(woman) of Death!


The Stock:


The Art:

Thursday, December 24, 2015

REFERENCE SET - Casual Gunner PACK


This is a stock reference photo resource available for FREE personal use or for commercial use for a minimal fee. Purchase high res and commercial use images at the links!

The image pack:
http://themuseslibrary.deviantart.com/art/Casual-Gunner-PACK-493999258

The single images:
http://themuseslibrary.deviantart.com/gallery/51809645/Casual-Gunner

See my full gallery of reference photos here: http://themuseslibrary.deviantart.com/

Alternatively, you can purchase my stock photo packs at my Gumroad shop where you can use Paypal instead of deviantART’s point system.