Back in late October I was running a search for greeting card companies – not the POD (print-on-demand) type, but places like Hallmark and Abacus Cards that accept submissions from artists on spec. If they select your work, you get paid for the artwork they purchase.
While doing this, I ran across Greeting Card Universe – somewhat like a POD, but a little more unique. Unlike other POD sites, it specializes only in greeting cards – nothing else.
Cards are printed and in the mail usually no later than the day after purchase, so the recipient could have the card in their hands within two or three days (up to five days depending on location) after purchase. All without the purchaser ever laying hands on the card.
I can see a few benefits to a service like this:
shut-ins who can’t get out to purchase cards and postage,
large mailings like wedding invitations or announcements,
customized images and messages for no extra printing costs.
This place has the largest variety of cards for almost anything, from congratulating a little girl for getting her ears pierced, to wedding invitations and everything in between, like birthday, retirement, bon voyage, every holiday imaginable, as well as cards in different languages, and multicultural imagery and texts.
Artists can order their own cards at a discount, and can choose to have them direct mailed to recipients, or have them shipped to themselves for their own retailing.
I signed up with GCU on a whim – I thought if the quality was good it might be a worthwhile source for printed cards to sell locally. Within a day of having my first 6 cards approved, I had a random sale. Already I’ve had more random card sales in a month from GCU than I’ve had in a year on Redbubble and Zazzle.
It’s unlikely the quality will rival Redbubble cards, but the trade-off will be the ability to include text inside the greeting cards, which currently is not available on Redbubble. GCU’s website claims the card quality is equal to that of cards found in the Hallmark stores.
I’ve placed an order for 5 of my own cards (placed on Dec. 16th), which were printed and shipped on Dec. 17th. I’ve yet to receive them, though I didn’t expect quick delivery during the holiday period – at this time of year, “snail mail” really does move at a snail’s pace. Once I’ve received the first 5 cards, I’ll place a second, third and fourth order, spacing the orders out as I receive each batch. This way I’ll be able to check randomly the quality of the print job.
One of the questions I’ve been asked is “Why lower your art to the status of everyday cards instead of keeping them as prints?” While a large majority of my work is art prints, they are far more costly which means that there are many people in today’s current economy that can’t afford a print, and others who just won’t spend money on items that aren’t considered necessities.
Releasing some of my work as card-art means that my work is still in the public eye. People send more cards during economically tough times than they do gifts, so the card market isn’t likely to suffer as much as other art markets. I thought long and hard about this before adding to my holdings on GCU; it certainly isn’t about the money, because the earnings are quite small per card as opposed to the earnings on a print. It’s about exposure, and keeping my work and my skills in the marketplace, even when the marketplace is suffering. In some ways, it is a form of advertising – one that costs me little financially, and it provides me with samples which can be sold.