Saturday, 12 December 2009

The Future for POD sites ? (Part 2)

As a lot of my recent work has been digital, I've been including a message in the image description about the availability of limited edition prints direct from me.

I've kept my POD prices low.. simply because I think they are unsigned reproductions. I would hate one of my unsigned POD buyers to contact me in the future and ask me to explain what the difference is between their unsigned POD they paid $100 for and the unsigned print they have just seen in Walmart for $15. (Ok I don't sell through Walmart but stranger things have happened)

I get a steady stream of Limited Edition sales from several POD sites.. and have made more money from selling LE prints online than POD's in the last 12 months.

I get quite a lot of contact from people thinking of buying POD's who maybe want to know which paper I recommend.. in my experience these people can often be persuaded to buy LE prints.

But I know other artists have different pricing strategies.. and I really don't think there is just one route.

I think traditional artists really do have to get over their reservations about online and computer generated art sold as prints. In my opinion it can only a good thing that new buyers are buying POD prints and IMO this expansion of interest can only add value to traditional forms of prints.. like lithographs etc. With print sales it is very obvious that there is a correlation between rarity, artists approval and the amount a buyer will pay.. at the moment there is no limit on the number of POD's a site could sell of any artists work and this makes them more like Walmart and less like a way of buying genuine ART print with a long term value. If an artist sells a million POD's and makes $100 per print essentially these POD's will be worthless to collectors... you may be happy artist.. but your likely to have a lot of not very happy buyers.

I think that many buyers on POD sites are not "savy" art buyers.. just people who like a work and want to buy it. Crazy as it seems I don't think that many YET understand that the authetication and a signature adds hugely to the value. But I do think they will learn, so for me its important they don't feel in the future they have paid too much for what are basically unsigned prints.

I think the question is "how can POD sites effectively add value for the buyer.. and provide extra income for both artists and POD sites ?"

I think POD sites are missing a trick in simply selling basic POD's.. they have generally settled for a relatively low cost low margin product. I do believe if a POD sites became a supplier of "authenticated, numbered and approved reproductions of an artist" it would have some extra value for the buyer in the long term. This authentication and numbering could all be done in house. I currently provide authentication written on a small b&w art print.. and many buyers say they are delighted to get two art works for the price of one and all this could be set up via POD sites. The signature is the only problem. I wonder if artist signing tours might be possible in the future.. in the same way that authors have book signing tours.

I think the following would be worth trying for both POD sites and artists..

The POD site becomes "an approved print reproduction supplying site for artists" and in addition to normal POD's offers.. a numbered and authenticated POD which are essentially the same but with a certification of authenticity. The artist could then decide how many of these "authenticated prints" to offer for sale. None of this prevents artists from offering signed limited edition prints as well. I just see it as a way of adding value for buyers.. and extra income for artists and POD sites. I think the POD site would have to make it very clear they are supplying "artist approved prints"

Online art sales are here to stay.. and we want POD's to be collected.. and traded. I think the next stage for sites like this will be need to start adding value for buyers.. and making more money per print for artists and POD sites in the process. I'm less interested in making $10-500 dollars on a single POD than building a relationship with a potential collector who I want to help build up a valuable collection, I want to profit from this long term relationship but I also want the buyer to profit from this relationship both in terms of accrued value and enjoyment. At the moment POD sites simply don't provide anyway of acheiving this.. POD's need to become approved online print sellers providing a complete service.

Anyway that will give everyone something to think about over Christmas..

Seasons Greetings to all creatives everywhere.

Andy Mercer

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Saturday, 5 December 2009

Collaborative series of works

I've recently been involved in an extended collaborative series of works.
I spotted this image by Denis Dalby
And who takes notice on Red Bubble. I'd wanted to create an image based on torn posters for awhile... so Denis's photo fitted the bill. Denis kindly agreed to send me a copy.

I've also had a few textile artists tell me some aspects of my work are close to textile art.. I like texture and repetitive lines and shapes. The link below details how Canadian textile artist Lorraine Roy picked up on my image (based on Denis's image) and in turn created an entirely new work based on my image. The image Lorraine has posted at the very top left via the link below is Stop 3 which is my image inspired by Denis Dalbys photo.

Juding by some of the comments on the message boards other artists are interested in developing this colloborative series further. One of thing I really enjoy about all of this is that there is no plagerism going on.. we all see potential for new entirely images in other artists works !

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Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Frontiers Magazine

About two months ago, Andy Mercer and myself were contacted by a representative of the scientific journal 'Frontiers in Neuroscience'. Yesterday, we were each notified that our work will be featured in their upcoming, quarterly edition. This edition is primarily devoted to all aspects of Sleep: latest research, and the impact of sleep, and sleep disorders, on society, funding, and industries.

Here are some excerpts from the Frontiers website:

The Frontiers Journal Series are open-access journals supported by the Frontiers Research Foundation, an international not-for-profit foundation based in Switzerland in the spirit of neutrality and guided by core principles.

The Frontiers Journal Series is not just another journal. It is a new approach to scientific publishing. As service to scientists, it is driven by researchers for researchers but it also serves the interests of the general public.

Vision -- The prosperity of society requires all people - without borders or discrimination - to have free and easy access to knowledge. The grand vision of Frontiers is a world where all people have equal opportunity to seek, share and create knowledge.

I'm presumptuous enough to speak for both of us and say that, though there is no fee involved, this is a great opportunity for any artist and we're honored to participate. The Frontiers journals are distributed worldwide, with a print run of 8,000 copies going to subscribing scientists, surgeons and other medical professionals as well as libraries, universities and various scientific facilities.

Here's a link to Andy's accepted, sleep-titled image -

The City that never sleeps

Frontiers has chosen to use six of my sleep/dream-related images -

The Flock

Sealy's Window 1, 2, & 3

REM Dreams

And, a final image, Dreamstorm, which is not posted online, but will be . . . very soon.

It also pays to update your online sites, even when sales slack off. Did I mention they found us on RedBubble?

I'm told we should have hard copies in our hands before Christmas. I hope that's true, as it would be nice to pass around to the family before Christmas dinner!

Thanks for your support in this, Andy. It's been fun!

~ EyeSpy aka W. J. aka Wendy J. St. Christopher
W. J.'s Blog -
W. J. @ Zazzle -*
W. J. @ Zazzle 2 -
W. J. @ Redbubble -
W. J.'s Video Exhibits -

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Saturday, 14 November 2009

A short conversation before the end of the world

Eschatologist : See.. I told you the end of the world w...

Me : Oh shiiiiiiii...

The End

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Friday, 13 November 2009

The future for POD's ?

Zazzle has been my best selling POD site for a couple of years now.. as far as I know I haven't referred one buyer there.. for starters they get a lot.. lot more visitors than any of the dedicated Fine Art POD sites.. because they sell a wide range of personalised products... in addition to everything a Fine Art POD offers.

They don't charge to open a shop.. and so actively attracting buyers is the ONLY way they make a profit.. and it shows ! I get the impression there is a lot going on behind the scenes at Zazzle.. to drive in buyers.

To this end they have an affiliate program that resells products via non art specialist sites.. for example "Christian sites" These sites earn income when someone buys your product via their site.. and so the targeting is very specific to buyers with a particular interest. But Zazzle also attracts art buyers.. I regularly sell prints there. So they have developed niche market buying.. as a way of bringing in buyers for whom price is not the most important thing. Zazzlers themselves can also earn by reselling other peoples products.. if they have an audience. Lets say I recommend someone else's "unique" Christmas cards on my website.. I can earn from any sales I generate.

A Fine Art POD site is largely a "one trick pony" just selling "Fine Art".. sites like Zazzle sell all sorts.. from "T shirts with famous sayings" to products made by the visitors themselves. I get the feeling with many FA POD sites they are more interested in making income from artists.. rather than working to attract buyers. For me Fine Art POD sites have not really moved forward.. I think they really should be acting like global galleries..representing artists as an online version of the real world gallery.

I also believe Zazzle is a company benefiting from the fall in the dollar.. as all their products are much less expensive to foreign buyers than they were two years ago. Its been noticeable to me how one comparable non US based site's sales have tailed off.. while Zazzle's have grown and grown.

I believe you rise up the searches as you make sales at Zazzle.. I ordered some of my own Christmas cards from them a couple of years ago.. and it may be co-incidence but sales kicked started shortly after. I would describe my income there as "useful additional income" I maybe spend a two or three hours week uploading and creating products.

Unlike one or two sites out there.. I get the feeling their sales reporting is much more accurate.. for instance you see folks debit debit/credit cards not being accepted and then they come back and use another. That never happens on any other site I'm listed with. So my level of trust in Zazzle is much higher than other sites.

I do have serious reservations about the reporting of some FA POD sites out there. At Zazzle I get reasonable numbers of visitors.. but the ratio between visitors and buyers is much lower.. at one FA POD I have one image with 3500 visitors in the last 9 months but not one sale.. (that really does strike me as "sus".. why would so many people look at the image but then not one follow that interest up and buy ?) At Zazzle I have no product with more than a thousand hits in 3 years but the sales keep coming. I find that a very interesting and curious comparison !

The forum at Zazzle has almost no small talk.. everyone post seems focused on business and making money, I think that says something in itself. There are certainly folks making decent income at Zazzle. Some folks have literally tens of thousands of products at Zazzle... they produce simple designs and plaster them over loads of products like mugs.. skateboards,, shoes.. so Zazzle is as much about designers as it is about artists.*

If you follow my link and buy, I get paid via that "star" at the end of the URL as someone who refers you to Zazzle (I think) for a period of a month.. so even at this basic level Zazzle is encouraging buyers and sellers. I know plenty of artists who happily point links at Zazzle simply because there is always the possibility of a sale

If you think about it the Fine Art market is quite specialist and restricted.. and visitor interest is limited.. "design" on the other hand is a huge industry with almost everyone on the planet wanting designed goods. Zazzle is a design and art site. Folks interested in design are just as likely to be interested in Fine Art.. so the audience is right.

There is much less commenting and rating by fellow artists at Zazzle in my experience.. for me that indicates that most folks don't want to be distracted by this.

I see FA Pod's as being squeezed.. by ever more competition.. in this scenario the biggest sites offering the biggest range of products will survive.

The future for FA POD's in my opinion is to specialise and to replicate the real world gallery model. They should be competing with real world galleries.. I might be persuaded to look at a site specialising in say "urban art" or "American landscape photography" or whatever but on a general POD art site its often really hard work to find what you are looking for ?

I think FA POD's will have to specialise or die ! I've been quite uneasy for awhile about the emphasis certain sites put on Fine Art when they actually sell unsigned reproductions.. the serious art buyer is not going to be taken in for long.

I think this site is an example of the way Fine Art POD's will have to go to.. selling LE prints etc. I believe its a real world gallery but it seems clear they are replicating their specialisms and skills online and restricting the number of their artists based on quality. It's online gallery representation !

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Friday, 30 October 2009

POD site comparisons

Basically this is just my opinion of some of the POD sites out there.. its certainly not a comprehensive list. I've left question marks where I don't know the answer

Imagekind a complete independent store for Premium members £100 per annum. 100 images uploaded and available for POD at no additional charge ? Multiple image uploads. Print Quality high.. not many sales unless you drive them there.
Basic POD cost for A4 print ?
Image Security ?
Responsiveness ?
Artist rating 8

Zenfolio $100 per annum similar to Imagekind but primarily geared towards photographers. Hosting and gallery template service. Few POD sales unless you drive them there.
Basic POD cost for A4 print ?
Image Security ?
Responsiveness ?
Artist rating 7

The Untappedsource 100 images uploaded and available for no additional charge ? Selective about works stops the site from being overloaded.. as yet ! New kid on the block.. work in progress. One to watch. Print quality high. Multiple image uploads.
Basic POD cost for A4 print ?
Responsiveness : Good
Artist rating 6

Zazzle.. no additional charges and they work to bring in sales as a result and it shows. Best POD site out there in my opinion. Print Quality.. good if not exceptional. Multiple image uploads.
Basic POD cost for A4 print ?
Responsiveness ? Don't know never had any real problem
Artist rating 9

FineArtAmerica... $30 per annum to allow POD sales at higher/similar/lower cost than rival sites ? Print Quality ? Single image uploads only. Jpegs only.
Basic POD cost for A4 print ?
Responsiveness ? Average
Artist rating 7

Red Bubble.. unlimited images.. no additional set up or POD charges. Site is rammed full of artists and images but still manages to deliver some sales. Limited Print options. Great community aspects.
Basic POD cost for A4 print ?
Responsiveness ? Generally Good
Artist rating 8 mainly due to lack of print options

Artist Rising/ simply not worth the bother unless you are already established and selling on the site.
Basic POD cost for A4 print ?
Responsiveness ? Sporadic and problems left unresolved
Artist rating 3
Comment : Poor reporting of sales,

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Thursday, 15 October 2009

Au Revoir Damien

The art of excess for an age of an excess..
A superficial art that shocks for a superficially shocking age.
I think it captured the spirit of that age perfectly.. but now the world has come down to earth with a bump... Tracey is leaving the country to avoid paying 50% tax and Damien now wants to be a painter. I think we can safely say its the end of an era.

Duchamp declared "ideas" art.. and this became "art is anything I/we decide it to be.. and if you aren't one of us and we don't like your art then it isn't art"
I suspect even Duchamp would have grown weary of his joke by now..

I've got in mind a new piece of conceptual art.. its called "Damien's New Paint Shirt". Its got to be great art.. because its about Hirst. I wonder if the era of oiled filled rooms.. soiled bedsheets and half pickled cows as art will be remembered ?

My feeling is it will be the embarrassing art of an embarrassing era.
I think the death knell sounded for Hirst as stock markets crumbled and the world as we knew it fell apart.. while his bejewelled skull became the most expensive art work in the world.

Banksy has stolen Damien's shirt.. the art dealing elite have donned their designer skater outfits and gone all "street".. man !

"Behind this wheely bin is Banksy's tour de force..not since Da Vinci has an artist captured the true essence of.. "

Oh dear "Damien the unconvincing Classicist" is born... I think the Independent article gets the tone just about right.

Its a bit like the Queen piercing her navel and posing with belly exposed.. not what you'd expect.. somewhat disconcerting..(I will resist saying "shocking"). and not likely to be overly appreciated by either admirers and detractors.

I predict Damien will become a recluse and retire to the Bahama's with his millions.. and mumble to anyone willing to listen for the next 30 years about his ignored genius. The cow and the shark will secretly be buried.. or quietly replaced with plastic replica's.

Au Revoir Damien

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Saturday, 3 October 2009

Digital Art ?

I hear a lot of argument about digital art. Personally I think most artists are working digitally to a greater extent these days. If they photograph their conventional artwork it becomes a digital copy of the original work, and if they then start modifying the digital photograph, the image becomes progessively more digital and distinct from the original. So whats the problem ?

Personally I enjoy the process of taking a conventional work and then producing digital works based on the original. I can't really see any problem artistically with that. I define myself as an artist who incorporates digital methods.. I make this distinction because some artists are 100% digital.. i.e. the work is never anything other than 100% digital content. This content can be generated entirely from within a computer as is the case with fractals and mathematically based digital art. Some artists create digital art using digital photographs or imagery created via a tablet. In my case my art is produced using a mix of conventional and digital methods.

(Hope your still with me ?)

The digital revolution is here.. in fact it really is the mainstream now. Like music art is being digitized in a big way. Artists can either embrace these new processes or not.. but they are here to stay.

How many of us only know an artists work because of digital versions shown on websites and reproduced in magazines, even artists who never saw a computer in their lifes have had their work digitized ?

(This is all very interesting but is it fun.. but dear reader you must keep going ?)

The only thing the buyer of digital art needs to think about is that it is simply art produced digitally.. which can be good or bad like every other form of art.

But there certainly are distinct characteristic's of digitally produced art.

One of the characteristics I like about using digital methods to create art is that you can easily start using a dark colour or even "black", most conventional art works start with a white page or canvas and the artist builds tonality and shade from this white base. Its not all that common or easy to go the other way and start with a very dark canvas and then lighten it. So this is just one of the attributes that makes digital art different.

I don't think any art buyer should worry that digital art is somehow of less value than conventionally produced art, for me thats only a matter of time. Eventually collectors will fully understand that early and good digital works also have value.. what do they say about any investment buy while the value is low because as "sure as eggs is eggs" values will go up.

(Look you've come this far so don't stop now.. you're getting close to the fun part

Sunday, 27 September 2009

BBC Radio Lancs

I will be exhibiting some of my pictures at BBC Radio Lancashires gallery from Oct 27th to 20th Nov.

More info to follow..

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Friday, 18 September 2009

Inside Solo Feature

Solo is a group at Red Bubble that gives online solo exhibition's to selected artists and Inside Solo is the magazine this highly professional group produce as part of their group activities. They have some very well informed feature writers and I am delighted to have been featured in the latest edition of Inside Solo online magazine.

My best wishes and sincere thanks to the excellent folks at Inside Solo.

Andy Mercer

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Tuesday, 1 September 2009 costs artists money.

Call me old fashioned but I sort of think that when an artist sells their art they should make money.. well apparently NOT at I've had an account there for quite a few years.. to be honest I never got round to deleting it and pop in from time to time to check if they have sold any prints of my works.'s reporting of sales has always been a bug bear of mine... it just doesn't seem right. Too many unexplained glitches for my liking.

I used to sell regularly on the site but this year there has been almost nothing in the way of sales. I've queried this a couple of times and when I managed to get a response was basically told that's "sales reporting is fine but sales are just slow."

I've been toying with deleting my account but there are always 100 other things to do.

The other day I logged in to find that I had sold a work.. "yippee" you may think.. well no.. I got a minus commission. Now a minus figure usually happens when a work has been returned by the customer. Of course you have to take their word that the art work has been returned by the customer because they don't provide proof. But as the work has been returned it would seem to suggest it had sold in the first place.. and therefore you would expect it to appear in my sales reports. Needless to say it doesn't.

So as's reports are "working fine".. I can only assume that has now reversed the norm and started charging their artists when they make a sale.

Staying tuned to this channel..

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Tuesday, 21 July 2009

The United States of Art

Pledge allegiance here

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Thoughts on realism and photography

I like to have a little dig at photographers.. this is largely because it is perceived by some that photography stole Fine Arts trousers. And if someone left you bare arsed you wouldn't be best happy.

But seriously the relationship between photography and painting is interesting and complex and has always interested me. So for that reason this work interests me.

More here

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Saturday, 18 July 2009

Visitor stats for art sites

An interesting comparison between three of the more well known art sites.

You can enter any three sites and make a comparison. I like to check these figures when deciding on which art sites are worth putting in the effort.

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Friday, 10 July 2009

I done something naughty

Not me of course.. I'm far too respectable.

But an online friend Soxy Fleming from Melbourne produced this recently and I got to say I'm real impressed.. I think it deserves a wider audience. Admittedly I'm no expert but this seems a really professional piece of work to me.

Vid, images and music all by Soxy and her daughter Fleur in collaboration with friend Stephen.


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Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Follow me on Facebook !

I'm posting news and information on a regular basis over there.. please become a fan.

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Sunday, 7 June 2009

Thursday, 4 June 2009

I came across this the other day.. thought it might be of general interest to anyone trying to find a gallery to show their work.

Tony Moffits Independence Showcase bringing artists and gallery owners together.

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Sunday, 15 March 2009


Someone said to me the other day.."your work reminds me of.." its not something I have given much thought to really and it got me thinking that I should make a little list. I am happy to receive suggestions

So in no particular order

Paul Klee
"Max Ernst":
"Joan": "Miro":
"Jean Debuffet":
Velvet Underground & Nico
Marc Chagall
Theo Major
Wallace and Gromit (I have an accent like Wallace and also like a nice piece of cheese)
Gaudi (not sure why or how though)
Tom Finney
Marcel Duchamp (I don't understand why)
The Queen

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Sensible reasons to buy art

Of course its always a good idea to buy art because you like it but art can also be a sound investment.

In these uncertain times where stock markets have nosedived what sort of investment gives you a safe haven for your money ? Will a classic Monet or a Picasso suddenly be worth nothing ? I very much doubt it.
The value of a work of art may go up or down but artworks generally don't go bust !
In the unlikely event that an artwork gets destroyed you can still claim on your insurance.

Who in their right mind would put their money into in a business these days.. with all those overheads and the lovely banks and government as demanding silent partners ?

(to be continued)

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Sunday, 22 February 2009

Red Bubble v Zazzle

I'm a Red Bubble fan. I love its youthful unfussy non elitist approach. It feels to me like some skateboarder's got together to create a "cool dude art site". Its still feels a bit like some "coding freaks" are running it from a basement with every art work on the planet rammed into a couple of red hot servers which double up as coffee warmers and are held together by smelly socks.. and bits a string. And you don't get customer service in the evening because they've all gone to the beach for a party. And they think its "koowl" that they've conquered the internet art world...
I know it can't possibly be.

The downside is that I think RB's print options are way too limited.. for anyone wanting to sell a quality product.

Red Bubble hasn't cottoned on to the norm in business of treating your customers like idiots.. and avoiding blame at all costs. They have even shared their RB's sales statistics broken down into "pie" charts. Their prints and canvas prints are surprisingly low when compared to T shirts etc.. which just goes to show that buyers (including artists buying their own work for exhibition) are not using RB. So for me they are missing a huge chunk of potential business.

At Zazzle (which I don't really take that seriously as an "art" site) they have a range of quality papers and sizes.. up to "pretty darned massive". If you could combine Zazzle's print options with RB's youthful irreverence I think BubZaz would clean up.

Andy Mercer's Art
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Monday, 9 February 2009


A new image..

Available from the sites listed below.. and I can also arrange for this worked to printed on Fine Art paper or canvas and signed.

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