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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Promotion, Prints & Posters

In the last few weeks I've been doing a little research into promotional products and printing - mainly because there are many hundreds of places a photographer or artist can order prints, but some of those places have poor quality, and some are simply scam sites.

So how does one decide the best places to print their product?

The simplest way is to order a sample if the print site in question offers samples. If not, order a "sample" on your own by ordering a small print, card, or poster. In businesses, these orders can be written off on your taxes as a business expense.

One of the best ways without ordering samples is to ask other photographer's where they get their prints, and what places they've tried.

My own preference for prints of good quality would be the sales sites I use - Redbubble, ImageKind, and The Untapped Source, though the prices for prints from these sites are not inexpensive I know (from experience) that I can trust their print quality, and that they stand behind and support their products.

In "real life" I trust a local shop for photography prints - Cavalcade Colour Labs "Foto Source" . Their product far outweighs the results from places like Walmart, and so far I've found that they also stand behind their products. These days I seldom need to order regular photography prints. My wide-carriage Epson printer handles most of my needs just fine, thank you very much. It was an excellent investment, and if I had the space, I'd consider moving up to their larger printer.

The one I have is capable of printing on large art-papers, photographic papers and on canvas and for the moment, suits my office space just fine.

For larger art prints and canvas I use another local place - Tiffin's Creative Center . They have the hugo-mongo Epson printer that fills a small room all by itself, and produces excellent quality imaging, though they don't use as wide a range of art papers as I can get at ImageKind. They do, however, print on canvas which is an excellent choice for artists, or for digital artworks.

But in doing my recent research I ran across a few print-types that some of you might find useful, or at the very least interesting. Some of these have generated interest for me, and I'm beginning to look at some of my own work in a different light.

Poster Jack - a Canadian company that offers "peel'n'stick posters. This opens up the door to a whole new batch of opportunity. These posters are somewhat like those repositionable peel and stick wall decals people buy to decorate kids' rooms - often disney characters.  The posters can be removed from the wall simply by peeling it away, and it's supposed to leave no backing on the wall, and can be "restuck" wherever you like. The come in a variety of sizes from 8 X 10 to huge.

When I discovered these people the wheels in my mind started going round and round - I could think of dozens of uses for this, in particular, self-mounting these posters onto wallboards, but they'd also be a terrific way to display posters in your office or studio. Printed large enough they'd make great backdrops for photography - stick the one you want on the wall, position your subject in front of it, do your portraits and take it down when you're done. Instant photo studio.

That of course wouldn't be inexpensive, but it would allow for those who don't actually have a studio to create a "photo-op" spot anywhere within their home that they have a blank wall large enough to do the trick.

Multicolor Signs - While I am not enamoured of their website design, this place offers poster printing with finishes for indoor or outdoor use, as well as things like vehicle wraps and metal sign printing. I am not certain about their other services since I can get some of them locally, but having posters printed for outdoor use is something that would interest me. Our town has a host of outdoor events over the course of the summer, and being able to display work that is protected from the elements at a show or outdoor event could be rather useful.

Marcor Media - The service offered by this Toronto company is quite exciting. Yes, I know this can probably be found elsewhere, but Toronto is located fairly close to home, and I could easily take a trip to view the product before I order one. They print your photo or art on metal - copper, steel, aluminum and brushed metals, and they use a high definition print process for photographic prints. It looks like this would be worth the trip to see. While not inexpensive, I would be willing to fork out the dough if I like the results. Marcor offers other printing options, but the metal printing (see their video on the site) is the reason they are in this listing.

Green Printer - The name is exactly what this service provides. Printers that use eco-friendly papers and inks, and whose processes and products are for those who have an environmental conscience. They have a wide range of products from greeting cards, booklets, postcards and businesscards to notepads, bookmarks and envelopes. For those who want to promote their business with products like give-away bookmarks or notepads, this is a good choice. The prices are reasonable enough for recyclable products, so greeting cards and post cards purchased in bulk can be used as sales items. These folks are probably worth a look if you are interested in products for your business and sales, as well as environmental protection.

These last three places are really listed as promotional sites - places where you can purchase promotional products at reasonable prices. Pens top the list of promotional items for most businesses - they are inexpensive when bought in bulk lots, and everybody needs and uses pens. Lots of people even collect them, so it's a useful promotional tool for a pretty small cost. Other products are carried by all of these sites as well - some different items you might not have considered - like paper or recycled plastic shopping bags, a large variety of keychains, and even wrist bands.

The Cup Store - Yep, cups. Not mugs, cups. Disposable plastic, paper or foam cups with your business logo or name on them. Okay, so you might be thinking "why would I want those?"  These of course are not for everybody, however, if you provide photography services at weddings, outdoor events like family reunions, races, triathlons  or other similar activities, these could be sort of handy. Even if you don't provide services of that type, do you show or sell your work at indoor/outdoor shows? Many photographers pay for space at trade-type shows. The investment of a purchased watercooler and a couple of large bottles of water and cups with your logo might leave a memorable imprint on a hot day to a thirsty visitor. Not inexpensive, these cups are meant for larger concerns, but spending a little on advertising can be a useful tool for even a smaller business. This one is here simply for the uniqueness of it's product - you can almost guarantee there won't be a lot of photographer's in your area with their own branded cups!

Amsterdam Products - Promotional products from pens to lapel pins and just about everything in between. If you can't find an item that can be put to work as useful advertisement for your business at this place, then something is wrong. They have a large number of offerings including office supplies, and locations in Canada and the US, as well as some eco-friendly products. Some items are relatively inexpensive, like pens and keychains, and others more pricey. Keep in mind sites like this one expect buyers to purchase in bulk, so to get a keychain embossed with your business logo or name for 49 cents each, you may need to buy 500 or 1000. Some products can be purchased in lots of 50, or 250 (a number of the pens have these options). Higher priced items can be purchased in smaller amounts. I liked the vast array of items on this site.

4Imprint Canada - This company carries promotional products similar to Amsterdam Products above, and has offerings from pens, clips, flashlights, keychains, paper shopping bags to plastic water bottles, golf balls and other outdoor products, including sunglasses. They carry a line of home products like coasters, as well as business products, like office supplies, and some travel items like duffel bags. If you want something larger and different, have a look here.

Okay, that's it for today. For some of you, it might not be particularly helpful since it isn't a tutorial, but in my wanderings I found these few places of interest - particularly the Canadian ones, so I thought I'd share my thoughts.

I'm not sure when I'll have another tutorial - I still have nearly a month of family work to deal with, but I'll try in the next few weeks to post up something in the way of a tutorial.

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