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Photo-Based Art Emulating natural-media painting techniques

Photo Art Business Feedback Requested

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  #1  
Old 09-17-2005, 02:55 PM
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chaosstudio chaosstudio is offline
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Photo Art Business Feedback Requested

Hello All,

I'm interested in any feedback the talented folks here might have. About six months ago, I started a business called "Pictoart" (http://www.pictoart.com). With very limited marketing, this business has grown to a point where I can no longer keep up with demand. I've had to occasionally "turn off" advertising when I get as many orders as I'm able to complete. I'm currently doing nearly all of the artwork myself, and this can only be part-time for me right now.

I was wondering if anyone here might be interested in working as independent contractors by providing artwork based on photos submitted by Pictoart customers. I would continue to handle all the mundane business aspects (getting orders, working with customers, printing the artwork, framing, packing and shipping, advertising, etc.) and anyone who was interested could do the actual creative work and I'd pay them.

I'd set up a collaborative web environment nearly identical to the one here at RetouchPro where artists can create personal profiles, view available orders, post threads, and upload their work. In a way, it'd be much like the mini-challenges that are posted here, but people would get paid.

Keep in mind, I'm not talking about life altering amounts of money. I haven't figured out exactly, but ballpark estimate is $20 to $50 for an 8"x10" (300 dpi). More for larger or unusually complicated projects. But for those of us that love this form of artwork and do it as a hobby, this would be an opportunity to make some money for doing something you would likely do for free anyway. It'd also be good resume fodder if you are just starting out and want some commercial experience.

Starting Pictoart has been very rewarding. Many of the orders we receive come from people whose lives are truly touched by the artwork we provide. We've gotten wedding photos, pictures of loved ones who have passed away, requests for family portraits created from photos of individuals from separate photos, and a wide range of other subjects.

I welcome you to explore our website to learn more about what we are doing. We'll be making some fairly major modifications to our site in the next few weeks and building a portal so that other artists might participate is among the things I'm planning to add.

I wanted to throw this out to the folks here and perhaps gague the potential interest. The folks here have amazing talent, and for those of you that don't already make an income from your work and don't have the time and energy to do the upfront work to start and run a business, this could be a very low pressure way to provide a service to people who will greatly appreciate it, and make some money on the side.

Thanks,
Bill Jacobson
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Old 09-24-2005, 03:10 AM
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bigkidjr bigkidjr is offline
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Bill -- how many orders are you actually getting? what kind of marketing are you using? Press releases? Pay-per-click? For those of us trying to get our own businesses started, any tips on where to find the business would be most appreciated!!

Thanks much!

BigKidjr

p.s. Most of my recent "challenge" work is over at Innographx(www.Innographx.com/forum), although I'm always browsing around on Retouch as well. If you go over to Innographx and look up posts by BIGKIDJR, you'll see a sampling of some of the recent photoart challenge work I've done.
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Old 09-30-2005, 09:39 AM
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chaosstudio chaosstudio is offline
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At present, the only advertising I have done has been Google AdWords and a few random press releases and word-of-mouth. I have turned off my Google campaigns at the moment while I am updating the Pictoart website and also working on other projects. With the keywords I had set up, I was averaging about 4-5 orders (most small, some quite large) per week; just as many as I could keep up with given the 20 or so hours I was able to devote to it. Of course, if I increased my Google ad budget, I'd expect more orders, but AdWords will ultimately only go so far before the law of diminished marginal returns kicks in and the optimal ad exposure is acheived. I would like to advertise in other venues (both regular print and online), and produce a catalog and brochure to send to potential affiliate partners (such as interior decorators). Of course, I haven't done any of this yet for fear something might work and I'd quickly become swamped. :-) Which is why I'm hoping to start some low-pressure partnerships and "outsource" a bit.

Thanks for your interest, I'll definitely let you know once I have the collaborative environment set up and the details of the contracting process ready.

Bill
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Old 09-30-2005, 02:36 PM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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i like this idea and might be interested. one question, however. not everyone is versed in all these styles and maybe only one or two. and, there are certainly other styles you could use. my question then, is what control would the sub-contracting artists have over which images were chosen for them to work on? would this be a the artist may pick any image he chooses and ignore others possibly more backlogged or you're going to assign all works based on a first come first done basis or something in between or completely different?

i do like the idea. i think it has tremendous potential and i have a fair amount of time on my hands (mostly spent here at retouch), but i tend to only choose those pieces here on retouch that i think i can actually help, or appeal to me in some way or that present a new or existing challenge to me. thus, i'm not interested at all in a production line, you've got to do this one now, sort of approach. i do what i do primarily for the love of doing it and for learning more and helping others learn more.

also, do you plan on offering R&R type services in the future? what you're currently proposing has quite an appeal to those who are not 'business minded'. i, for one, like to do the work, but hate all the admin that can come with running a business. if you were to offer the admin side of things to R&R specialists like you are doing with the artistic side of imaging, you might find yourself suddenly swamped with R&R specialists artists and technicians are just that; and whereas they may have to wear the hat of admins to keep the bread on the table, i think most would tell you that they'd prefer to be 'doing the fun part' as opposed to the administrative side of things.

so, i look forward to more of this thread.

Craig
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Old 10-01-2005, 09:40 PM
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chaosstudio chaosstudio is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kraellin
would this be a the artist may pick any image he chooses and ignore others possibly more backlogged or you're going to assign all works based on a first come first done basis or something in between or completely different?
Thanks for your interest. I can't say for certain how it will work just yet (still working on the process map and workflow plan :-), but I'd like it to be very open and there wouldn't be any kind of bizarre "obligation" for anyone to do anything (if only I had such power). So more than likely, I'll let whoever is interested submit proofs for whatever they want and let the customer choose which they want to buy. (I currently offer customers at least two options for them to choose from so this would fit with the existing customer interface). The obvious downside is that though several people may submit perfectly good artwork, only one would be paid. But taking the "mini-challenges" here as a model, many people submit great artwork without any expectation of being paid anyway. Add to that the very real liklihood of making some money, and hopefully that would be enough incentive for some people to participate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kraellin
also, do you plan on offering R&R type services in the future?
Well, although it isn't a specific service we advertise, virtually all of the orders we get require some level of R&R sort of work on the customer's photo before the rest of the artistic stuff can begin. At least initially, it has been a marketing decision to try and brand Pictoart as a place for getting artwork, not so much other sorts of photographic services, so there's no plan to offer it explicitly. That said, when we have gotten custom requests for it, we don't turn the order away if we think we can provide value.

Thanks for your ideas!
Bill
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Old 10-02-2005, 07:31 AM
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grafx grafx is offline
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Photo-art is a great idea. I've been working on promoting it as part of my retouching services. Mine look like watercolors right now, but I would like to pick up oils as well. I'm having some serious fun with Painter. It seemed a natural direction with all the glam retouching I do.

I have a question though. What size docs do you work on to be able to print to the over sized canvases? I know 300 dpi minimum, but are the actual docs to size or will the printers compensate without pixelation?

Thanks,

Sarah
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Old 10-02-2005, 10:28 AM
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chaosstudio chaosstudio is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grafx
What size docs do you work on to be able to print to the over sized canvases? I know 300 dpi minimum, but are the actual docs to size or will the printers compensate without pixelation?
We create virtually all of the artwork in 300dpi at final print dimension (or larger if it will be on stretched canvas and we need margin to wrap around stretcher bars). In some cases we can justify 200dpi or even lower (very large mural works, which we have done a few of and will begin promoting more quite soon). Obviously, these files can become enormous when you are fiddling with them in something like Photoshop. Ultimately they are all flattened and converted to high quality jpeg before we print them. These files are a bit more manageable to work with and archive in case folks decide later that they want additional prints.

Bill
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Old 10-02-2005, 11:41 AM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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thanks bill.

i know what you're talking about re the 'obligation'. you've got X number of jobs sitting there and 16 folks doing the work all pick job X and leave the other 40 to rot. that will drive a manager nuts in no time it will also drive the artists/technicians nuts as well, since only one of them is going to be paid.

so, i offer this suggestion, instead of making everything open to all, limit it a bit. you post a piece and say the first two to pick it to work on you then close it to others. that leaves all the remaining jobs still open. you get some variance to choose from on the one picked and finalized and 15 folks dont end up frustrated. you're still going to have one that doesnt get paid, but hey, it's a competition.

or, you could do it on a first come basis where only the first person to choose to work on it could do the job. they post an acceptance to do the work and the piece gets closed off to others. you put a time limit on the person to do the job. cant have customers sitting around waiting forever. the artist posts the final as a proof. the customer inspects and accepts or critiques for changes or simply rejects it completely. you could then either take it back to the original working artist or offer it up again for everyone.

it's a bit tricky. you dont want to offend your artists, but at the same time you're going to find yourself weeding out those that dont quite meet the customer's needs and wants. opening all the pics for all to work on is great in that you'll get the best of the best, but you're also going to end up with fewer artists. closing it to just one or two to work on is liable to get a lesser grade job at times, but you'll have more artists being rewarded and thus inspired to do a better job. there's an optimum balance in there somewhere. you want the customer to get the best possible. you want the artists to be inspired and rewarded for thier work and you want to maintain a good reputation for fine work done. juggling all that is a trick.

another option is to find and use the best of the best artists to act as your qualifications department. someone does a piece, but before it goes to the customer it gets run by your quality control artists for finalizing or acceptance. that might add a bit more time to the job, but might also be more of a win-win for the artists, your reputation and ensuring the customer gets a good job. and since we're comparing things to retouchpro, this would be similar to the critique forum and even the challenge and gallery areas where folks can post comments on a given piece.

you could even have different levels you offer to the customer. they could get the 'budget' work where any and all work on it, the 'intern' level where only a few more qualified do the work and it gets 'qualled' by even better folks, and then a 'professional' level where only one of your top people or yourself do the work. each level, of course, would be increasingly more expensive.

at any rate, i am interested in seeing how this goes and perhaps joining in myself. i ain't da best, but i definitely like the idea.

Craig
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