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Summer Doodles

After looking at everything I accomplished during summer sabbatical ,it’s fair to say the majority of my time was spent drawing and working on my shops.

I’d set a goal to draw three things per week, but the final tally shows more than twice that! For all this work, I still feel quite slow as an illustrator, and not very prolific. But I’m proud of what I finished and learned along the way.

Here is a sample of the work, not including the (many) drawings I didn’t finish. Everything is posted at Calobee Doodles if you want to follow along!

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Redbubble, Society6, TeePublic, and Threadless

I’ve had a shop on Etsy since 2007, but I’m new to the print-on-demand thing. I’ve opened shops for my illustrations at each of the following services, and I wanted to do a brief review of my experiences so far.

None of these services require payment or fees upfront, which makes them low-risk endeavors; the only thing lost is time putting everything out there.

So here goes; a comparison of all four services in list format:

Redbubble

  • Average product selection; stickers are a big seller because they weren’t offered elsewhere until recently.
  • You set the price per product.
  • You set product defaults.
  • Easy tools for centering your art and repeating patterns. Fast editing experience overall.
  • Supports full-bleed, repeating patterns.
  • Upload different images for each product.
  • You can add some branding to your shop (avatar, banner image), but still includes Redbubble branding.
  • Supports Google Analytics and basic view counts, favorites, and comments.

Society6

  • Wide product selection (Floor pillows! Curtains!)
  • You set the price per product.
  • Can’t set product defaults; your shop displays products in your shop at random.
  • No tools for centering art on each product; you edit placement manually. Product editing is slow; each one has to be individually enabled and customized. The interface is slow and buggy in Chrome for Mac.
  • Supports full-bleed, repeating patterns (but you have to create them manually in a graphics program).
  • Upload different images for each product.
  • You can add some branding to your shop (avatar, banner image), but still includes Society6 branding.
  • Supports favorites and comments.

Teepublic

  • Narrower product selection, with a focus on t-shirts.
  • They set the price per product.
  • You set product defaults.
  • Easy tools for centering your art.
  • Full-bleed, repeating patterns for some products.
  • Upload one image for all products.
  • You can add some branding to your shop (avatar, banner image), but still includes TeePublic branding.
  • Supports Google Analytics and Disqus comments.

Threadless

  • Wide product selection, with a focus on clothing.
  • You set the price per product.
  • You set product defaults.
  • No editing art placement per product, but their algorithm is smart about it.
  • No full-bleed/repeating patterns.
  • Upload different images for each product.
  • Shop design is customizable (colors, fonts, layout) and branded for you.
  • Supports Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel.

So far, it seems Teepublic and Redbubble get the most traffic (and the most sales). They also do more to feature individual designs and artists on their front pages, whereas Society6 is a bit of a black hole unless you’re driving traffic to your shop. Threadless has design challenges alongside their artist shops, which makes for more community interaction (their shops feature is relatively new), but they also emphasize the need for self-promotion, and I haven’t made a huge effort there.

In terms of what sells, most of my sales on Redbubble are stickers (“Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down” is popular), and most of my sales on Teepublic are tees.

How much have I made? Let’s just say I’m not quitting my day job by far, but these services are helping save a little for a family vacation. I’ve also donated about 25% of my earnings to Planned Parenthood, and I’ve been inspired to make art, which in some ways is payment enough.

I hope this has been helpful to anyone looking to start up a print-on-demand shop of their own!

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winter, you are so…winter…

Winters are long, white, and cold up here in Northern Maine. I’m trying to look for the beauty rather than the ugly. Like how brilliant the stars are on a clear night, or how the world looks perfect with a fresh coat of snow. I just have to look past the fact that I’ll end up shoveling said snow eventually.

My folks have the right idea–they turned into snowbirds at the start of the new year and are traveling in warmer climes (you can even read about their adventures!) Our family has grown by two. Their dogs, Dillon and Coco, have temporarily adopted us. Atticus is happy to have regular playmates. He’s also thrilled to have mountains of snow to romp, dig, and roll in…the Husky is strong in that pup.

The kids spend a lot of time inside due to the weather, but we’re armed with Play-Doh, finger paints, baking, LEGOs, puzzle games, movies, and a ridiculous number of toys. They have an entire playroom to themselves, but you can guess how often they use it.

Ellie is making us proud with her reading skills, although now it’s harder to sneak stuff by her by spelling it out loud.

Gwen hangs out at home, and as a result, our family hasn’t been ill all winter. Usually by now I’d have had at least two stomach viruses and a cold, but so far (knock on wood) all I’ve come down with is a case of the sniffles that barely registered on my Radar of Sick. Even elementary school germs can’t compete with daycare germs. That alone has made this winter more tolerable than most.

I realized the other day that when Ellie was two and some months, I was already pregnant with Gwen. This is probably why I’m enjoying Gwen’s two-year-old-ness–life on the whole is more enjoyable when you’re not vomiting and/or exhausted! Who knew?

It occurs to me, as Gwen moves away from baby-dom and into full-fledged kid-dom, that we’re rapidly shedding the accoutrements of baby life. She gave up both her binky and diapers in January. Her crib has been retired to the basement. She’s talking more clearly and showing preferences, and her goofy, sweet-hearted personality is making itself known.

I admit, this is a transition I’m feeling great about. They were cute as babies, but now they’re cute and (more) independent! I’m getting the best of both worlds, with the occasional tantrum thrown in for good measure. I can handle that if it means I spend less time wiping other people’s butts.

As for me, I’m in the process of writing/editing my NaNoWriMo novel, and it’s taking for-ev-er because I keep finding ways to distract myself (like, say, writing this post). Meanwhile, I posted the first novel on its own site.

I’m also taking advantage of the indoor time to redesign all my sites that have fallen into a state of neglect over the last year, including this one. I’m using slightly modified versions of my recent theme designs, a process developers know as “dogfooding.” Dogfooding takes on a more literal meaning in this house.

I feel like I’m coming out of a rather uncomfortable phase that’s equal parts hormonal-sleep-deprived-mother-of-two-little-kids-craziness and late-twenty-something-problems and oh-my-god-we-moved-and-adopted-a-puppy-at-the-same-time-last-year-insanity.

In other words, things are finally starting to level out. So while the weather is still brutal and bitter cold, to the point where I have an actual physical craving for spring, I also feel pretty good about life right now. Maybe even great. Yeah, we’ll go with great.

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