Saturday, 12 February 2011

POLL: Which "Print on Demand" site do you like the best? (Update #1)

Last summer I started a poll on Print on Demand - Resources for Artists to identify what people's preferences were in relation to different Print on Demands websites.
The popularity of the various 'print on demand' sites waxes and wanes. We know something about the traffic they get ( see the traffic charts below) but what do people think of them after they've used them and/or bought items from them? This poll set out to find out.
This is the situation some six months on.  44 people have responded to date.

Print on Demand Poll as at 12th February 2011

Print on demand - art prints/posters and other printed items

Clearly Zazzle is way out in front.

However looking at the preferences in the context of traffic enables us to get a better picture

Zazzle's premier position is echoed by the growth in traffic to their website.  Zazzle and Cafe Press are far and away the largest competitors with traffic peaking at nearly 7 millon a month in December.  However, since last summer, Zazzle has consistently attracted more traffic than Cafe Press.

Zazzle's traffic (blue) overtook that of CafePress (green) last summer
(January 2010 - January 2011)

Red Bubble is the newest website in this competitive marketplace.  It picked up second place in the order of preferences.

Again this is born out by the chart when comparing the traffic of Imagekind and Red Bubble - where it can be seen that Red Bubble has been beating Imagekine for all of the last 12 months.

Imagekind (blue) has been consistently losing out to Red Bubble (green) in the last 12 months
(January 2010 - January 2011)
Interestingly 20% of those voting preferred another site - but rather frustratingly didn't say which!

See Print on Demand - Art for more information, advice and tips about the different websites

Print of demand publications

In the print of demand publications stakes, Lulu is preferred to Blurb.  Again this reflects the relative position on traffic.

Lulu's traffic approximately three times that of Blurb (January 2010 - January 2011)

See Print on Demand - Publications for more information

Conclusions / your views

Overall, traffic is a pretty good indicator of preference - with the exception of CafePress.  This site has extremely high traffic but is not the site of choice for most people.  One can only assume this say something about people's experiences with the site or their reputation.
  • What's your preferred print on demand website - and why?   
  • Have you voted on the poll? - please update the poll if you have not yet voted

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Moleskine Folio Sketchbook - A3 size

Moleskine A3 size (16 ½” x 12”, 29cm x 42cm) Folio Sketchbook
Yesterday I came across an A3 size Moleskine Folio Sketchbook - and bought it without a second thought.  I've been using Moleskine sketchbooks for the last five years and although I might go out with other makes there's always at least one in my backpack!

I haven't even got the cellophane cover off yet and I'm ecstatic.

My A4 size Moleskine Folio Sketchbook has been my new favourite sketchbook for a while now.  It has all the features of the original "Large" Moleskine Sketchbook - but bigger.  Which means:
  • 96 pages measuring 21 x 29.7cm. This means a double spread in inches is 11.5" tall by 16" wide and is my new favourite format for sketches

  • the paper is the same high quality heavy paper, acid free paper. The 160 g/m2 weight means nothing ever shows through to the other side - which means you can use both sides of a page all the way though the sketchbook!
  • all the paper is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified
 - which I applaud
  • smooth black hardback cover with rounded corners and an elastic band closure
.  The latter is invaluable for avoiding the edges of your paper getting dog-eared.
  • inside the end cover there is an inner expandable pocket which I use for mementoes of trips and tickets
The big benefit for me  of having an A3 size Moleskine sketchbook is that I will now be able to do the same large sketches - but with no crease down the middle as I no longer need to use a double page spread.  

The Royal Academy - Courtyard of Burlington House - in the rain
11" x 17", pen and ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine Folio Sketchbook A4
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Now I've got a paper I really like for the media I use and that's big enough for the size of sketch I like to do I might even taken one apart and start selling sketches!

You can see my sketches using a Moleskine on
I bought my new A3 sketchbook in the big Waterstones on Piccadilly.  It was priced at very nearly £30.  However I've seen them for less elsewhere including on Amazon

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Which dark soft pastels are the best?

Soft pastels in very dark colours present a challenge which some manufacturers have tried to address.  This post is about soft pastels in dark colours, shades and tints - and a new opinion poll.

Common problems are:
  • Some brands can feel abrasive and scratchy.  Dark shades and tints of soft pastels have a reputation for not being the softest of soft pastels.
  • Other brands are 'too hard' and fail to release their pigment load easily
  • It can also be very difficult to get hold of good rich colour in dark shades.  Dark should not mean that colour disappears.
Some manufacturers have addressed these problems by creating specific dark sets of soft pastels. These aim to balance the quality of pigment colour (ie colour not black!) with softness and the effective release of the pigment onto the support while also offering a good range of dark colours.

Many a pastel artist has developed a quest for set of pastels which are both soft and dark

I started out with a set of Rembrandt Pastels and found the dark shades to be a tad too hard for my liking.  I addedin Daler Rowney Soft Pastels and liked those - but they disappeared a bit too fast for my liking

I then got a set of Unison Darks and was smitten.  These are very dark and yet have good pigment colour - but are also not abrasive or "too hard".

My set of Unison Darks - photographed when still relatively pristine!

I've also tried out some dark Terry Ludwig pastels in a pastel workshop.  Some pastel artists comment that these work better on abrasive supports rather than paper where to some they feel a little too greasy.  There are two sets of dark Ludwig Pastels:
  • Intense Darks #1 set is red/sienna/ochre/brown oriented
  • Intense Darks #2 set is blue/grey/purple/mauve oriented
You can also get a set of 60 Intense Darks
Terry Ludwig - 60 Intense Darks
Diane Townsend has a set of 12 dark soft form pastels. she also lists the individual colours whcih means they could be bought singly.  These are Deborah Secor's favourite dark pastels and she says they cover Wallis paper really fast.  She recommends the dark green for those doing landscapes.

Diane Townsend - soft form.  Dark 12 piece set
Sennelier have a set of 24 dark tones.
Sennelier Pastels - Set of 24 dark tones
Pan Pastels have a set of extra dark colours available as 3 sets of 5 colours each - extra dark shades, shadows and earth colours

Daler Rowney now have a dark set - 8 Set Dark Selection Code 153 902 008 - you can see a picture of them here

Girault are said to have a dark set but I've never seen one and can't find one on their website.  Others may have developed specific dark sets and if so I'd love to hear about them.

Which dark pastels do you like best - and how do you buy them?  

Please vote in the NEW OPINION POLL Which is your favourite brand of dark soft pastels? in  Pastels - Resources for Artists

I'd also love to hear about your favourite brands of dark pastels either in connection with the poll or by commenting below.

ALSO How do you like to buy your dark pastels?
  • as a specific set of dark pastels (which can be quite expensive) 
  • or in singles from open stock
Do please let me know what you think by commenting below

More information

Links to dark sets
Links to reviews
Links to more information about pastels:

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