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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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NaNoWriMo, here I come!

X-Files fanfic cover in progressI mentioned in one of my last posts that I’m participating in NaNoWriMo in November, and I may be setting myself up for failure. Next month is ridiculous, schedule-wise, with each of us traveling for a week, and with Thanksgiving, and my tendency to edit as I write, I have no idea how I’ll reach the requisite 1,700 words per day. But hey, you never know.

Until a few months ago, the longest paper I’d ever written just barely crested 10,000 words, and it was a college essay for Canadian Studies about Pierre Trudeau; a fascinating guy in his own right, but not a particularly fascinating paper. I was known to drop college courses if the syllabus required any papers greater than 10,000 words, and I purposely chose a major that didn’t require writing a traditional thesis.

I’m hard-pressed to think of anything that interests me enough to hold my intrigue for 50,000 words, so the idea of writing a novel for fun seemed like an annoying way to spend my free time.

That said, I used to write all the time; poetry and short stories, plus blogging (before they called it blogging), but never anything longer than a few thousand words. That would require an attention span.

Speaking of things that do hold my attention, a few months ago I started re-watching The X-Files and reading the new X-Files Season 10 comics, and that got me thinking about the epic story arcs that show generated (and all the resulting loose ends). 2013 marks the series’ 20th anniversary (oh, hey, I feel old) so I’ve had this show on the brain, and I started thinking about a story.

I’ve written XF fanfic before, and hopefully it will never see the light of day, because I spent most of the stories thinking up excuses for the characters to fall into bed together. (In my defense, the sexual frustration in the first seven seasons is almost unbearable, even now, watching the show as an adult.) After a few nights of mulling over one particular plot idea, I got the crazy idea in my head to start writing fanfic again, this time with a storyline that doesn’t read like soft-core porn. I wanted to stay true to the original series and the characters, and follow up with the William story arc.

That fic is currently sitting at over 60,000 words. It still needs editing and beta reading and more editing, and I feel like I’ll be plucking away at it forever. But I did it, and now my life list is happy.

Write a novel(-length piece of fan fiction) — check!

I’ve outlined my ideas for the sequel, which I intend to be my NaNoWriMo project. Again, I tend to edit as I write, which is not great for speed, so I’m going to try to curb the urge to tweak every last word. I’ll try to write scenes as they come to me, rather than writing from beginning to end, then piece them together after the fact.

In any case, I’m happy to have a project to work on that’s different from my usual fare. If you’re writing this year, please be my friend on NaNoWriMo! I’m going to need all the motivation I can get.

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