Websites like DeviantArt and Redbubble (and many, many more) have changed the opportunities available to artists, designers and photographers to have their work available as reproduction prints.
It used to be that capital expenditure on a print run would mean you had to be sure of a mass market for any image in print. But these days anyone can be a micro-publisher of their own art and make profits without any outlay at all. Not only will in not cost to offer your prints to the world, but it will be relatively hassle-free as the site deals with everything.
DeviantArt (based in the US) and redbubble (based in Australia) are the 2 sites I use to provide prints to a worldwide consumer base. DeviantArt is the biggest online artist community in the world.
Both these sites provide prints in various forms: canvas prints, paper prints, framed prints, greetings cards, postcards and so on. In addition to this, deviantArt also offer coasters, fridge magnets, jigsaws etc. while Redbubble offers iphone cases, t-shirts, hoodies, kid's clothes and seems to add different products all the time.
Photographing Your Artwork
I often get asked about the best practice for photographing paintings so here's an at a glance list of tips for recording your paintings in digital format;
>> Use a good quality dSLR camera (full frame sensor if possible but are pricey)
>> Use a good quality lens. (I use a canon 50mm)
>> Without professional studio lighting, outside on an overcast day is best.
>> Do not shoot in direct sunlight.
>> Clean your lens
>> Use a tripod
>> Use the 2 second timer so that when you press the shutter, that force won't jolt the camera at time of shot.
>> Use 'Av' setting and set to a mid range aperture (8-11), the camera will do the rest.
>> Set the lowest ISO possible (100 is fine)
>> Post production in Photoshop or any image editing software will likely be necessary.
>>Lastly, if your going to offer the really big prints (deviantArt do a 30" canvas) then even 18 megapixels might not be enough. For this you can pan the camera around the canvas from a tripod pivot point taking 6 or more photos which overlap. These can be seamlessly stitched using photoshop (file>automate>photomerge then select the series of photos). For this, make sure the focal length of the lens is a minimum of 50mm. The more "zoomed in" the better as it reduces the lens distortion of wider angle lens which can be a nightmare to stitch. The resultant file will be as many megapixels as you want for massive prints in high detail. Sites like deviantArt and redbubble will detect the size of your file and only offer print sizes appropriate to print clearly from. Do not attempt to just upsize the pixels of a smaller image, it will not be approved as good enough quality.
example of coaster from deviant art
Marketing Your Prints
Do not rely on the traffic from other users of the artist sites to sell prints. You will sell very few this way. Instead, gain the traffic to your prints through links from your own website, blogs, twitter and other social media etc. These will be potential customers already interested in your work.
So what's the quality like of these deviantArt prints? Well I've kindly shot a couple of videos reviewing deviantArt products I recently ordered of my own paintings in print in the form of a framed print and coasters, here they are...