With so many artists out there, making profit in the print on demand world can be a challenge. Keeping true to your aesthetic integrity and locking into what consumers are looking for feels like a paradox, with your choice being the lesser of the two evils. Fortunately, you don't have to give up your creative heart and soul in order to see monetary gain. James Soares of the highly successful design studio Spires, is a pro at creating artwork for the market in a way that fulfills his spirit of design. Here, he gives us some tips on how to take control of your print on demand success.
Know Your Market
Understanding the context in which you are competing and thinking about the goals Society6 has as a business will allow you to tailor your efforts for optimal success. Considering the platform on which you are participating is crucial. What does the Society6 provide the artist? Who's likely to be a Society6 customer? Considering this in a deeper way will help tune your work towards sales.
Think about the products that Society6 chooses to sell. Why these? Society6 is in two main markets: fashion and home. The art that you make will sell best if it coincides with the specific needs of apparel and home decor products.
To address this challenge, Spires focuses on color; everyone has color preferences. The vehicle of abstract geometry easily plays to different colorways and widely addresses the market. Find your own solution within your unique voice and style.
Keep Up With Trends
Personally, I love the structure of geometry, tactility of texture, and the beauty of color, so my style fulfills me creatively, but also plays to current trends. Finding the balance between what satisfies your creative spirit and what addresses the market is critical to success on POD platforms.
Following color trends in the apparel and home decor markets is an important component to informing your color choices. Your work must be invited into a customer's home decor setting, and likewise into their wardrobe; so knowing how the markets are trending color-wise is a great advantage.
Also, mood-based art (rather than content-based) is more easily assimilated into people's lives. Many of the top artists on Society6 are working with general aesthetic themes, not with specific content. If you do work in content based art, make sure your art has a strong coherent mood in order to overcome any content-based objections a potential customer might have. Keep the mood strong and the colors relevant. To draw a parallel, even if you don't resonate with the lyrics to a song, you may enjoy its mood or feeling.
Takeaway: find your unique and marketable aesthetic niche, and feel good about it.
Actively Participate in the Society6 Community
I believe that Society6 invests in artists that invest in Society6. This mutually beneficial, virtuous circle asks for a greater proportion of time spent of the platform, but in return increases sales for the artist. Top selling and prolific artists consistently have work showcased on the front page.
I've found that consistently releasing solid work is key. For 2.5 years Spires has released an average of 6 designs a week to Society6. Although about 20% of the designs sell more than the other 80% combined, the volume of work communicates the depth of style of the brand.
Designing a workflow that has allowed for consistent output was a core challenge of making the jump from part-time artist to financial independence. If you want to put out 6 pieces a week, each piece cannot take you 6 hours to make, or you will not have time for the rest of your actual life. Learn how you work, how best you can optimize your effort while creating, and how you can streamline the creative process.
Always Keep Creating, But Stay True To You
Have a well developed aesthetic voice before you begin, and consistently use that voice. Through consistency, you can build a brand, be recognized, and perhaps even start a trend. Over time, introduce new collections in your mix to provide a wider selection to your audience by demonstrating artistic versatility, and provide yourself relief from creative monotony. When you vary in this way, remember to present an aesthetic common thread to your previous work.
Check out Spires' work here.