Reviewing RedBubble with New Artwork

As an independent artist there are many venues that do print-on-demand so it's hard to vet them all. However, having heard good things about RedBubble from fellow artist friends, I decided to try them out. I'm happy to share that I've added them to the list of stores that sell my artwork. Recently, I added some new artwork featuring a re-designed version of a Chow Chow character. I created it a while back for a friend's comic pitch that unfortunately didn't make the cut for an anthology. I felt it was a shame to shelve the character so I decided to take another crack at "Gordon" to see if I could push his design further and make him more adorable. I'm all about the cute these days and feel like it's a direction I want to keep going in, at least for now.

I ordered some things from both my RedBubble and Society6 stores using the same design in order to compare the quality, colour accuracy and speed of delivery.

My First Impression of RedBubble:

RedBubble performed better than my other store, Society6, when it came to delivery time but for Canadians I think there may be a bias. RedBubble has a location in Burlington, Ontario and I'm in nearby Toronto. Society6 ships from the US so there will always be a delay at the border. I think customers in the US would get comparable delivery speeds because RedBubble also has a American location.

I was already impressed with getting my packages quickly—within 5 days—along with a follow-up email to confirm delivery but it didn't end there. All of items from RedBubble arrived together. The packaging was also really well-designed and my mug was even safely nestled in a sleeve within the outer package. I don't know how many times I've received things from other vendors where items arrived bent or broken so this was nice to see. You can tell they put a lot of thought and care into it. Their attention to details—a tiny wooden clothes peg holding the tee-shirt tag, overall product quality, colour consistency amongst the products, and printing accuracy—helped make a really good first impression. I'm quite happy I tried them out.

Society6

My Society6 items arrived separately (because they use different fulfillment vendors) and took much longer, likely due to clearing customs. While Society6 provides tracking while in transit in the US, they don't extend that after it reaches Canada so that's something I'd like to see improved. Most items took about 2 weeks to arrive but the notebook ended up taking over 3 weeks! I had just sent in a request for a replacement, fearing it had been lost, when it finally arrived. Doh! One thing I will say is that their return/refund system is quite smooth and painless. Their customer service response is pretty good; I waited less than 24 hours.

Because Society6 uses different vendors I believe that's why the colour wasn't consistent from product to product. For instance, although the travel mug (on the left, in the second image below) looked good it was a lot more yellow than I would have liked. The hubby and I were split on which stickers we preferred, the glossy Society6 stickers or the RedBubble matte treatment. Both were of very good quality. Time will tell as to which one is more durable. The notebook turned out nicely. The paper has a nice smooth texture similar to 28-lb bond paper. I can foresee filling it up with lots and lots of drawings!

The Re-design

And lastly, some of the sketches leading up to the revised design of Gordon.

Painting reward for Strays' Kickstarter

I painted this as a new reward on my friend's kickstarter for her comic, Strays. The story centres around a teenage girl kicked out of her home after coming out to her parents. Her life is changed by a dog that literally falls on her head. This dog loves bacon so I included it in the image. I like to think of this as a dog's idea of heaven. 

Painted on Arches 140lb watercolour paper with lightfast inks. The image size is 8" x 10" but with border fits an 11" x 14" frame.

A trip down memory lane

About a month ago, a friend asked me to paint a portrait of his beloved childhood family dog—who has since passed on—to give as a birthday gift to his dad. There were a few challenges to overcome: a short time frame in which to complete and few useful reference photos to work from. In fact, some of the source material were screenshots taken from videotape. Despite that, I think I managed to capture the likeness, and my friend and his dad happily agree.

Dog portrait commission completed

I finished the commission in time for Valentine's Day and the client was extremely pleased (yay!).  As you can see, I spent most of my time refining the image in the last stage. That's really what you want to do at the end, just dotting your i's and crossing your t's, artistically speaking. The wrap-up should be reasonably stress-free. On that note, I hope everyone's Valentine's Day was also stress-free. :)

Dog portrait commission - Part 2

Attached are some more steps in the process. Keep in mind I'm not a paid professional - yet! - so my steps aren't necessarily the right way but what I felt comfortable with and still gave me a sense of organized process. In the first image, I painted out the fur, varying from high- to low-tones and not focussing on any specific one. This step put most of the image together with lots of room for refinement. For example, I noticed that the dog's face seemed a little too long so I made some adjustments that better resembled the subject. Although I didn't have a photo of the dog in the pose that you see, I used other photo references to help me place him in a similar manner. One thing I had to be careful about using references in this way is that I started taking different little bits from each photo for the dog and each photo wasn't specific to the dog but just an example of a similar breed.

In the second image, I focused on making the image more like the dog in question. At this point, the only photos I would refer to were of the dog though the poses were different than the one I was painting. I was able to focus on the more specific details about this dog and apply them to this image. Having too many references - especially disparate - can be confusing and distracting. I also took the time to make the fur more realistic. That is, I downplayed each hair and tried to make them less distinct individually and make them more distinct as a group. When we see an animal's fur in life, we don't notice each strand but rather clumps as they're arranged around their body.

In the third image, I started to block in the background. This image needs to be done by Valentine's Day so I had better get back to it!

Dog portrait commission

I've been commissioned to paint a portrait of a dog so I thought I would post my progress as I've been told that I just don't post often enough. My bad, so here are the first steps in the process...the prep and also the part I dislike the most. I'm having fun painting, though. :)