Tag Archives: zazzle

Wrapping my head around Zazzle wrapping paper

A product change started me to wrapping my head around Zazzle wrapping paper again. Zazzle changed the size of the standard width of their wrapping paper products. They went from 24″ to 30″. Fine with me, I designed for 24″ so I keep to that width. Alas, 30″ is the only option and this is the result.

Zazzle wrapping paper fail

Normally I create an image of 5400 by 3600 pixels which give me 150 pixels per inch. The standard length is 36″ and the standard width was 24″. After 36″ the image is replicated again, a kind of tiling along the length of the roll every 36 inches.

Those who used a much smaller image and tiled it with the 36 by 24 inch format, wouldn’t have any problems with the new with of 30″. I could tile my large image also (along the width of the roll), but that gives the following ugly result at the egdes.

Ugly tiling Zazzle wrapping paper

This is because my images take in account tiling along the length of the roll and not the width. The solution is to create smaller square tiles and tile these over the 36 by 30 format. The problem is, how do you resize the square tile so that the row fits exactly in the 36″ length (remember, that 36″ is tiled again along the total length of the roll)?

With some experimenting I figured out that the default dpi for wrapping paper is 100dpi before resizing the image. So, with 36″ lenght and a square of 100 by 100 pixels will give me a row of 36 tiles. A bit too much, as is a tile of 200 by 200 (18 tiles). The best option is either a tile of 300 by 300 or 600 by 600. Keeping with the 100dpi default the tiles will fit exactly along the total length of the roll. Lets see an example of a 300 by 300 pixel tile:

Tile 300 by 300 pixels

When using the tile function of the Zazzle product tool we’ll get the following result. It looks great and Zazzle doesn’t protest about the low dpi of 100. Apparently it is good enough. But what if you want a higher dpi?

Completely tiled with 100dpi

A higher dpi you can get by simply take a larger image (f.i. 600 by 600 pixels in a 6″ by 6″ square) and resize to half the size in the Zazzle product tool (f.i. 600 by 600 pixels crammed in 3″ by 3″). This should result in 200 dpi, but Zazzle doesn’t allow for exact resizing. Tiling along the length, over the 36″ format, won’t give a nice result.

One strip of tiles to rule them all

For this problem I deviced a clever solution. Simply create one image of a row of a desired number of tiles and “fit” this in the standard lentgh of 36″. I created this example of 7200 by 600 pixels (12 tiles).

One strip of tiles to rule them all

Next step is to fit this image in the 36″ by 30″ format. So 7200 pixels snuggly fitted in 36″ will get me 200 dpi, good enough for me.

Fit the strip snuggly

Since tiling along the length of the roll is now fixed properly, I only have to tile along the width of the standard format. For that I use the build in tile function of Zazzle. With the following result.

Tiled correctly all the way in 200dpi

And the result in my Zazzle store “Fresh Patterns”.

Now, I made a bunch of wrapping paper design with the first 100 dpi tiling method. From now on I’ll use the second method in order to get the desired 200dp.

Update

I’ve made a Pinterest board for all my Zazzle wrapping and gift paper designs.

Haida Weeping Skull and other new stuff

I’ve finally started making my own Haida Formline art, the first one is called the Haida Weeping Skull. Besides Haida art I made a series of new patterns. But first Haida Formline. Copying from the web and recreating copied designs isn’t very satisfying and therefor I decided to make my own Haida Formline designs. I watched the tutorials, from for instance Steve Brown, and penciled down some formline. I figured a frontal face would be an easy beginning and I wanted to do something with a skull since I believe not many used this subject. The process went remarkedly well and I’m quite pleased with the result. I present to you the Haida Weeping Skull:

Northwest Pacific coast Haida Weeping skull Wood Coaster
Northwest Pacific coast Haida Weeping skull Wood Coaster by ejkaal
Browse more Northwest coast Wood Coasters at Zazzle

My pattern shop is getting fuller by the week. Some old designs from the past are applied to a whole new bunch of products of Zazzle. And I found a lot of really good examples on the web which I want to use as patterns. The new patterns are pretty simple and I’ll try maybe ten or so in order to see if they make an impact. Patterns always are a bit of a gamble. These four are on sale in my shop right now:

One particular old design I want to mention is my houndtooth weaving pattern. I updated the design to the look and feel I see in fashion today. To my surprise after only two day on sale I already sold a product with, that’s my fastest sale to date. How a small change can make a big difference.

On my Pinterest page I started a little experiment. With a lot of hype Apple introduced their newest phone, the iPhone 6. What if I made a Pinterest board just dedicated to Apple iPhone 6 cases? Could it help me with any sales? I don’t really sell much cases, whether it is Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Google Nexus, Motorola Droid RAZR or Amazon Kindle. Maybe this Pinterest board can generate some traffic.

Bavarian coat of arms, crowns and crosses

I started filling up my medieval line, among others with a design from the Bavarian coat of arms. For now I just simply collect examples of every kind of medieval stuff. As a european the first which comes to mind is medieval heraldic patterns. Those patterns can be quite generic, so the trick is to find the famous ones. My first try is the blue and white lozenges pattern from the Bavarian coat of arms. Apparently I succeeded well, I already sold a Case-Mate Barely There Samsung Galaxy S5 Case.

There are different styles and periods to choose from medieval times. For instance gothic or romanesque. I started with a couple of romanesque design from an example book. Some look very detailed with lots of organic ornaments and others look almost heraldic and geometric. Of the latter I’ve made this example, not sure if the gold crowns will sell but it looks nice.

Medieval designs tend to have a strong geometric feel with simple forms a limited colors. This example has just squares and crosses, but it makes a very lively and colorful result.

Obviously with romanesque we think of a more elaborate design, with lots organic forms, flowers and vines. As you can see in the image below, there is one problem. When details get smaller and smaller, the design starts to get a bit fuzzy in the Zazzle images in the Zazzle store. On the real physical it’s going to be just fine, but how do you know for sure just looking at the Zazzle pages.

Although the design above doesn’t show at its best, I’m rather pleased with it. In the full sized image the color combination looks great, a lucky hit. The details also look much better. I’ll make a couple of this kind detailed designs and see if they sell.

Medieval romanesque patterns as a new line

Recently I added medieval romanesque patterns as a new product line. Now, some posts ago I mentioned I didn’t want to focus on patterns since they don’t sell very well. Illustrations of, for instance, animals do so much better. But, patterns are made quickly and put on products easily.

Therefore I started a second shop solely for patterns, I didn’t want to clutter my main shop with tons of patterns and tile designs. Mentioning tiles, in the new shop I rely on the tile function of the Zazzle tool. This function allows me to just create one tile and apply in on the product template I created (over seventy products are in this template). In this way I’m able to create a ton of products with not too much effort. Hopefully this small effort will justify the lower sales.

An example is a medieval romanesque pattern. Not sure if this medieval thing will fly, though. In the future I hope to create at least up to twenty medieval romanesque and gothic patterns.

It doesn’t mean I won’t do any non-pattern illustrations. Japanese Mon still do very well and I added some time ago the famous Kiku Chrysanthemum design. This one is on my Cafepress shop.

I had my doubts about Cafepress, but lately I started to sell stuff. Which will motivate me to pay more attention to my shop. My European shops at Spreadshirt are as lively as a piece of rock. No sale what so ever. A bit more patience is needed there. Print on demand online shops do take time and constant effort to make them into a success.

Haida Killer Whale and a Spreadshirt shop

In my previous post I mentioned that I wanted improve on my formline designs, this resuted in a Haida Killer Whale. This time I looked closely at the different formline elements. The example I found on the internet I modified there where necessary. All in all I’m pleased with the result.

Besides a new design I’m still tinkering with leveraging my designs to a bigger audience. I already started a Cafepress shop which started to fill up nicely. Obviously also with my Haida Killer Whale.

I asked the lady of five green lizards if she also used different print on demand services liek Cafepress. She tought the inteface of Cafepress too much hassle, so se doesn’t. Indeed it is a pain and you don’t have the flexibility of Zazzle. But I want to give Cafepress a try because sell cheaper products, maybe I can access a different audience. To date I only made one sale, so not much luck yet.

Zazzle and Cafepress cater mainly for the US market and I don’t want to skip the EU market. My first choice is Spreadshirt, a German company. They usually target per language in the EU, so my Dutch shop only sells in the Netherlands and Belgium. But the also have an EU wide website. I started a shop there and put some designs for sale, but Spreadshirt really uses your designs through their marketplace. So I made sure my Haida Killer Whale is on the market place for all Europeans to find.

Both the Cafepress and Spreadshirt shops need time to get some sales. In the mean time I’ll look for another POD service for the EU.

Haida art Thunderbird illustrations

One type of illustration always did very well and that was my Haida salmon, I therefor added a Haida art Thunderbird. In fact, I use the Haida Salmon as my logo. This salmon did very well and I like the aspects of a salmon. Swimming against the stream and against all odds.

It took me a fair amount of time to get the salmon done, but I decided to create a bit more ambitious project. Again, it is a recreation of an example I saw on the internet. A tedious job which took me a couple of months, just an hour work now and then. I kept putting of finishing the damn bird. The end result is not to bad I guess.

Probably the most important reason I found this job more tedious than all the other projects is that I really don’t know Haida art works. Why are the elements constructed the way they are? Well, you can read about ovoids and u-shapes and stuff, but how do you put this all together?

Day 1: Formline Workshop with Steve Brown from Kathy Dye on Vimeo.

By chance I stumbled upon a workshop by Steve Brown which was taped and put on the internet. It is video of two days and together you have to watch 6 hours of footage. But for anybody who wants to make a go at Haida art, this is probably the best start you can make. And I did watched it completely.

That was after I finished my Haida art Thunderbird. Looking back it doesn’t seem that excellent because my Haida art Thunderbird doesn’t follow the set of rules very well. Nevertheless I’ll put the illustration on Zazzle and Cafepress products since people like this type of art.

One thing about Haida art is that it suits vector art very well. So I ventured to get myself better aquainted with Formline art. I hope to get that way better quality illustrations which sell, without losing the convenience of vector art.

New illustrations for Zazzle and Cafepress

Since my last post I noticed that my production of new illustrations started go down. I might have touched this point that creating an illustration for a design is a bit harder than a pattern. For a pattern it is easy to get inspiration. Patterns are everywhere, in advertisement, on the web, there are even books just about patterns. Once a pattern is made in a tile, images are quickly made for every type of product, be it from Zazzle or Cafepress.

An illustration needs more planning. What style do I use? What subject will sell? Will I keep to vector graphics, which need less artistic prowess? Or do I start digital art directly in bitmap format? For instance in Gimp or Photoshop. Also, won’t my new illustrations to much restrained in product choice?

For now vector graphics will be my main craft. Japanese Mon designs sell reasonably well and I added two to my collection. First a “three geese” design.

And secondly a cute little bunny rabbit. I found an example on the web, but I didn’t like the line work very much. I gave it my own interpretation. I’m pretty pleased with the result. Also because I learned more about Inkscape functionality.

In the mean time I started to revive my drawing skills, because I can’t be to dependent on vector graphics. Illustrations sell and patterns hardly, so I have very little choice. Maybe I’ll start showing my progress in my drawing skills on this website. As a means to keep me motivated.

Setting up a Cafepress shop alongside Zazzle

Years ago I set up a Cafepress shop for the Dutch Mars Society. Cafepress was the place to go for print-on-demand t-shirts. I always found the user interface unfriendly and difficult. Soon after I discovered Zazzle and was impressed how Zazzle implemented their user interface. I left the Cafepress shop for what it was and moved on to Zazzle.

Nevertheless I’m in the business of selling digital design, which means I have to explore every possibility for selling my stuff. Over the years I have collected a number of images and it would be a shame not fully exploit them. So I gave a Cafepress shop a second chance.

Fortunately Cafepress improved their website and the user interface for shop owners. Now it is easy to put a design on many products, not as cleverly done by Zazzle, but good enough. Creating a shop is easy and you have products on display in mere minutes. My Cafepress shop is of course named DigitalHomestead. And I’ve already got a few designs on display:

There are two things I don’t like about a Cafepress shop. First, most importantly, the customer can’t adjust a design on a product to his or hers liking. Which means I have to adjust the design on for instance a t-shirt myself and hope shoppers like my choice. Zazzle in this is absolutely brilliant. With Zazzle a shopper can do almost anything with the design. Scale, move, rotate etc.

The second thing is that a Cafepress shop won’t be used that much. After a query Cafepress will direct buyers to their own market-place where a shopper can purchase your product. Only, at the low commission Cafepress set as default for their market-place.

Nevertheless I want to use my design as much as possible in order to make money online. Every dollar is welcome. And a Cafepress shop will help me in this. I guess it’ll be a couple of month before a make a sale.

Illustrations sell better than patterns

Recently I’v come to a surprising conclusion that illustrations sell better than patterns. It’s been a while since I posted a blog, October and November were rather busy. But I didn’t sit on my hands. I did some research on my sales to see what actually sells best. I made a lot of patterns, but also illustrations like Japanese mons or Haida art animals. Patterns go well on iPad and Kindle cases and the like. But cases can be quiet expensive.

Zazzle allows you to download an Excel-sheet with al your sales. My sales I categorized in pattern and illustrations. More than 90% of my sales were products with an illustration as a design. Conclusion: illustrations sell better than patterns. Action: make more illustrations. As I mentioned I created some desigs based on Japanese kamons. This is a sample:

Uesugi Mon Japanese samurai clan Jewelry Box
Uesugi Mon Japanese samurai clan Jewelry Box by ejkaal
Look at other Uesugi Gift Boxes at zazzle.com
Sakai Mon Japanese samurai clan
Sakai Mon Japanese samurai clan by ejkaal
Find more Sakai Tiles at Zazzle

This new insight urged me to visit my older designs of illustration and put them on the new products. Zazzle now has gift boxes for sale, ideal for a single illustraion.

It’s a bit early to declare my conclusion correct. Anyway, sales are picking up. November brough me 10 times more dollars than an average month in 2012 or 2011. That could be due to the amount of patterns I created the last two momths. They may help my store and Zazzle products to be found more easily. Mayby the patterns will take off some months later. But for now I’m happy with the increased sales. And I will keep a close look on what product and designs sell or don’t.

Cool iPhone cases from Zazzle – retro space

One way to make a buck is to market cool iPhone cases from other Zazzle stores. This is done by means of the affiliate program of Zazzle. In your Zazzle account you’ll find a unique number which you add to the link of the product on your website. Or better. Log on to Zazzle, find those cool iPhone cases and use the “share” button to retreive the URL/HTML-links with your affiliate code included.

Getting the links with the affiliate code is the easy part. How to use them in a clever manner is a bit more difficult. One solution I saw with a succesful Zazzle seller is to create a web page and fill it with a selection of products with design you think are well executed. For instance Apple iPhone or Samsung cases with a retro space theme. Here’s an example;

If you search on Zazzle you’ll see most of the design aren’t very well made, even though they are popular according to Zazzle. That gives you the opportunity to create a selection of cool iPhone cases which are both popular and well executed. I’ve put my selection on a seperate page on this website.

Yet another solution is Pinterest. Here you can collect images and categorize them the way you like. Pinterest groups images (and other media) into “boards”. You can make a board for cool iPhone cases with a retro space theme and let them link to Zazzle with your affiliate code. On Youtube there are plenty tutorial how to create a board.

I’ve no Pinterest account myself yet, but I can see the potential for showing of affiliate products or your own products. Anyway, I just started with this affiliate business and I probably have to create a whole bunch links and images with my affiliate code before I even make a dime. And I have to start to get some traffic to those links.