Studio F Provides New Art Marketing and Display Opportunities

Studio F is a new art marketing platform through which artists can sell their work as high-quality vinyl decals and wrapped canvases on Part of the Fathead family of companies, Studio F uses the marketing prowess and reach of the Fathead brand along with Fathead’s digital graphic technology to reproduce curated artists’ work as decals that buyers can display as frameless wall art, furniture enhancements, or window art.

Colorful Launch over Thanksgiving Weekend

To demonstrate the full potential and scale of Studio F’s creative capabilities, Detroit artists Ellen Rutt and Patrick Ethen were commissioned to create RADIANT CITY, a large-scale public art installation that in downtown Detroit. The artists were commissioned to help create an exciting experience to unveil Studio F and the transformative nature of the product.

Fathead launches Studio F, a new artist portal, with stunning exhibit RADIANT CITY in downtown Detroit (PRNewsFoto/Fathead LLC)
Fathead launches Studio F, a new artist portal, with stunning exhibit RADIANT CITY in downtown Detroit (PRNewsFoto/Fathead LLC)

The installation was open November 25-27 during the festivities surrounding America’s Thanksgiving Parade presented by Art Van.

Rutt and Ethen designed over 300 one-of-a-kind patterns that were sampled from Detroit architecture, printed on Fathead vinyl, and applied to the tops of tables by IKEA, the world’s largest furniture retailer. Using downtown Detroit’s beautiful, historic Grand Circus Park as their canvas, Rutt and Ethen arranged the tables to form an enormous mosaic and immersive color field around the Russell Alger Memorial Fountain.

“The patchwork quilt is a powerful metaphor for Detroit,” says Ethen, “there are so many people, ideas and cultures at play. This city is best understood as a plurality—nothing less than the sum of its parts.”

The duo explored Detroit to archive a collection of patterns from all over the city. “It’s important for us to make work that’s imbued with a sense of place,” adds Rutt, “There’s such a rich creative history in Detroit, so much inspiration surrounding us already, that sourcing patterns from local architecture was an obvious choice. RADIANT CITY symbolically references the present cultural climate, the energy and passion that is so tangible here.”

After the exhibit closed, some of the art-topped tables in RADIANT CITY for Studio F were donated to Humble Design, a non-profit group that provides furnishings and design services to families transitioning out of homeless shelters. The remaining tables will be sold on  December 1 in celebration of #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. All proceeds will go to Humble Design.

RADIANT CITY for Studio F was a colorful launch celebration for Studio F. Fathead worked with Minneapolis based advertising agency Fallon Worldwide to develop the launch idea and choose Ellen Rutt and Patrick Ethen as the first artists to be featured on the Studio F website.

“Studio F is the next evolution of Fathead,” said Joanna Cline, chief marketing officer, Fathead. “We can now offer our quality products, stellar marketing support and customer service to the artistic community.” Established artists and “artists to watch” will be able to expand their art collections to this dynamic new online gallery.

Information about how to apply for inclusion in the Studio F gallery and earn commissions for the sale of your work can be found on the Studio F website.


Studio F


Minted Crowdsources Wall Art Collection for West Elm

While the concept of  “crowdsourcing” may have gotten off to a rough start within the creative community, the practice has matured. Some of the more reputable firms now enable talented, independent creatives to get greater exposure and additional opportunities than they might have gotten on their own.

For example, if you haven’t visited Minted in awhile, maybe it’s time for a second look. Minted defines itself as an online marketplace for independent design and art. Using crowdsourced graphic designs and art from a global design community, Minted sells premium printed products for the $10 billion stationery market, the $48 billion wall art market, and the $7 billion party décor market.

Minted defines their mission is “To find exceptional artists and designers all over the world and bring their work to consumers who appreciate great design.” According to their website, “We believe that great design lives and thrives in the hands of indie designers that people may not have access to through traditional retailers. Our goal is to use technology to allow our community to discover the work of great designers from all over the world. And at the same time, create a place where designers can get exposure and build their careers.”

All designs and art featured on Minted are sourced through design competitions and curated by the community. The company holds ongoing competitions, giving designers and artists the opportunity to submit their work. Those voted to the top are sold on the site. Designers earn cash prizes and commissions on all their sales.

 Partnership with West Elm

Minted recently announced a partnership with West Elm to sell crowdsourced art prints at West Elm home-furnishing stores nationwide and on This is the first major retail partnership for crowd-sourcing pioneer, Minted. It is also the first content licensing partnership for Minted. Minted sourced and licensed the art to West Elm, who manufactured and marketed the final products.


The two companies launched the Minted + West Elm Wall Art Challenge only a few weeks after meeting at West Elm’s Brooklyn headquarters. Within another two weeks, artists from around the world had submitted more than 1,400 works of art via Minted’s crowdsourcing platform. As with all Minted challenges, the winners were selected by the public’s vote and the winning artists will earn a commission on every sale.

West Elm’s creative team hand-picked 25 of those winners to be produced and sold by West Elm. The winning works include photography, graphic patterns, and painterly landscapes.

“West Elm and Minted share a passion for discovering and supporting exciting independent artists,” said Minted CEO and founder Mariam Naficy. “I am thrilled to introduce Minted’s talented community artists to more consumers through the West Elm brand.”

“Our Minted collaboration provides us with a great opportunity to continue to support and elevate independent artists,” said Jim Brett, West Elm President. “The Minted community and crowd-sourcing platform has helped us curate a beautiful collection that we’re confident our customers will love.”

The framed wall art is priced from $59 to $199 and is offered in ready-to-hang formats in a variety of frame colors. West Elm encourages customers to create their own collections by piecing together their favorite works into a gallery wall.

Rose Lindo, a winning artist who lives in Austin, Texas, has her work “Man Meets Nature” for sale at West Elm. “Being from a teeny town in Oklahoma that recently got its first grocery store, it’s mind-blowing and humbling that my work is now sold by a major American brand,” said Lindo. “West Elm has an aesthetic that inspires me.”

About West Elm

Mixing clean lines, natural textures and handcrafted collections from the US and around the globe, West Elm offers unique, affordable designs for modern living. The brand introduced its first catalog in 2002 and opened the doors of its first retail location in 2003. The brand’s collection of modern furniture and room décor is now available in 55 retail stores in the United States, Canada and Australia, and at


West Elm-Minted Collaboration

About Minted



Create Photo Montages on Repositionable Wallpaper Panels

Yesterday, I published a post about how specialty printing is sparking fresh opportunities for creative entrepreneurs. Here is an excellent example.

WeMontage is a new online service through which anyone can turn a collection of high-resolution photos into a photo montage on removable, self-adhesive wallpaper material. Because the wallpaper sections are completely repositionable, they are easy to hang and re-hang when you move into a new home or office.

WeMontage founder James Oliver, Jr., was inspired to start the business after watching an episode of Home by Novogratz, on HGTV. In this particular episode, the remodeling crew was hanging photo collages as large wallpaper sections in the basement of a family home.

“I was mesmerized by the beauty and uniqueness of the concept,” says Oliver. He soon discovered that no one seemed to be making it easy to recreate what he saw on HGTV.

Users of WeMontage (which is currently in beta testing) gain exclusive access to the proprietary platform that was initially created with professional photographers and interior designers in mind. The site’s “drag and drop” montage tool gives customers complete freedom to create their own uniquely styled wallpaper collage.

WeMontage hosts the actual application so the customer doesn’t have to download anything. You simply create an account, upload your edited photos, and drag and drop the pictures onto the montage canvas.  In order to print images at the 1 x 1.5-foot size, the photos should have been shot with a 4 to 6-megapixel camera.  To include 2 x 3-foot images in your montage, it’s best to use a 10-megapixel camera (or higher-resolution model).

Once you approve the design, it’s ready to go.

Photo montages can be printed as a single 6 foot x 4 foot wallpaper section or printed on multiple panels to cover a whole wall.

Your printed montage arrives ready for application to a smooth, flat wall surface. The sections peel away cleanly and easily if you need to reposition them. The “About WeMontage” link below takes you to the sign-up page for the company’s beta testing program. Oliver is running a crowdfunding campaign on the Indiegogo site.


About WeMontage

Support the WeMontage Crowdfunding Campaign


Specialty Printing Sparks Opportunities for Creative Entrepreneurs


Specialty Printing Sparks Opportunities for Creative Entrepreneurs

“Just because books, magazines, and newspapers are migrating to tablets and e-readers doesn’t mean print is dying.” That thought flashed through my mind as I made my way through the crowded aisles of the SGIA Expo, Oct. 17-19 in Las Vegas, NV.  According to the SGIA, the 2012 Expo attracted 500 exhibitors and more than 22,000 attendees, 38 percent of whom were first-time visitors to the show.

Supplies for creating photo merchandise included this ChromaLuxe iPhone case with high-clarity sublimatable metal photo panels..

SGIA originated as a screen-printing association but is now the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association. SGIA members use screen printing, digital printing, pad printing, embroidery, sublimation, and other processes to create point-of-purchase displays, signs, banners, ads, and promotional items and to enhance garments, containers, vehicles, compact discs, and other products.

Everywhere I looked at the SGIA Expo 2012, digital devices of all shapes and sizes were printing and finishing colorful graphics and high-resolution images on every conceivable substrate from swimsuits and iPhone cases to tabletops and wallcoverings.


The 3-meter-wide Agfa Jeti 3324 AquaJet is a dye-sublimation textile printer.

According to the Expo guide, 198 different makes and models of digital output devices were on display. These included desktop printers outputting photo merchandise to industrial-grade textile machines. Some devices were printing on rigid boards and three-dimensional objects; others were outputting rolls of vinyl or textiles.

Clearly, the possibilities for cost-effectively creating custom-printed products are expanding.  The number of printable substrates has gone up, while the cost of producing shorter runs of products is going down.

As SGIA VP Dan Marx noted in his SGIA Expo report in the WhatTheyThink printing-industry newsletter: “Yes, ‘print’ is alive, but it is different….’Cheap print’ based on massive print runs is quickly becoming a thing of the past. The new opportunity in print is based on thoughtful, targeted, creatively executed campaigns and innovative conveyance of corporate brands.”

He points out that “The thoughtful combination of ink and media/substrate can present vast opportunities for new, creative applications.”

Why should you care?

Now that so many consumers are willing to buy products online, any creative entrepreneur with an idea for a custom-printed product can put up an online storefront, then team up with a print-service provider to have products made and delivered.

For example, at the Expand Systems press conference about textile printing at the SGIA Expo, I met Stephen Fraser, the entrepreneur behind Spoonflower, which enables anyone to design and order custom fabrics and wallcoverings.  Through his online marketing and social networking skills, he has built a community of 600,000 individuals who use their own fabric to make curtains, quilts, clothes, bags, furniture, dolls, pillows, framed artwork, costumes, banners and more. At the Expand press conference, I also met a textile artist who was striving to keep pace with the latest capabilities in digital textile printing.

One section of the show floor was devoted to showing top winners in SGIA’s annual Golden Image awards program.

This upside-down birdhouse from won the gold award in the Unique Applications category. It also received the Best in Digital Creativity Award. The graphics were printed on a Roland VersaCAMM printer/cutter.

One of the gold-ribbon-winning entries was a whimsical collection of custom birdhouses that are being marketed online by Build A Birdhouse of Whitby, Ontario, Canada.  Some of the birdhouses are decorated in digitally printed vinyl graphics that Jim Dileva creates on his Roland VersaCAMM inkjet printer with a built-in cutter.

Another top winner in the Golden Image Awards was the “Saladish” restaurant décor and branding campaign produced by Gamut Media of Brea, California. The campaign included floor-to-ceiling wall wraps, POP displays and other graphics produced on Roland’s VersaCAMM inkjet printer/cutter.

Gamut Media won a Gold award in the Building Graphics category for this “Saladish” restaurant wall graphics and branding campaign. The graphics were printed on a Roland VersaCAMM.

Rick Scrimger, vice president of sales and marketing for Roland DGA Corp said it was an honor to work with the award-winning companies:  “Their commitment to excellence, amazing creativity and craftsmanship are truly represented by these projects.” He said he enjoys working with all small business owners who apply the power of Roland’s technology to their own creative and entrepreneurial pursuits.  (For proof, take a virtual tour of Roland’s Creative Center, a gallery at the company’s headquarters in Irvine, California that shows dozens of products that have been created with Roland equipment.)

The “Roland at Work” exhibit in the Roland Creative Center in Irvine, Califoniia displays some of the items that can be produced with Roland’s most advanced inkjet, engraving, vinyl-cutting, and 3D technologies.

Personal Observations

The 2012 SGIA Expo was noticeably more advanced than the last SGIA Expo I attended in 2009. And, it was vastly different from the first SGIA Expo I attended in 1995, when we were launching The Big Picture magazine.

In the mid-1990s, large-format digital printing devices were promoted mostly to entrepreneurs who wanted to start new types of print-for-pay businesses making retail graphics, art reproductions, museum displays, billboards, bus wraps, truck graphics, and event signage.

Over the years, SGIA members have told manufacturers what performance improvements they needed in printers, inks, substrate, prepress and automation software, and finishing equipment. As a result of this cooperation between small-business owners and equipment manufacturers, the capabilities of large-format digital printing equipment have advanced at a remarkable speed, especially after the market for short-run digital printing grew big enough to attract companies such as HP, Epson, Canon, DuPont, Agfa, EFI, and Fujifilm.

For awhile, I attended the SGIA show every year, paying close attention to the dialogue between business owners and equipment vendors about what technical problems and market-development issues still needed to be addressed.

Now that I’ve stepped away from the industry for a few years, it was astonishing to see the field from a fresh perspective. At the first show I attended, a few, primitive first-generation color digital printing devices were scattered among aisles and aisles of screen-printing equipment. This year, digital-printing devices dominated the show floor.


The 2012 SGIA Expo provided a vivid reminder that plenty of opportunities await graphic designers who would prefer to work on tangible, printed projects instead of apps or interactive media.

To learn more about the capabilities of the latest generations of specialty printing equipment, visit the SGIA website.  Through their “Find a Print Provider” link,  you can locate SGIA members  in your area who are equipped with the specialized printing equipment you need to create whatever type of printed product you might want to design and sell.

In future posts, I will write more about what I learned at the 2012 SGIA Expo. For example, I was very impressed to see how SGIA is helping printing companies of all types operate in a more environmentally sustainable way. And, I learned about advances in digital textile printing that might help U.S. companies bring more textile manufacturing back to the U.S.

The 2013 SGIA Expo will be held October 23-25  at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. It will be co-located with a show sponsored by the Industrial Fabric Association International.


About the SGIA

Find Print Providers: Guide to Digital Imagers and Screen Printers  

SGIA Expo 2012

Roland DGA Creative Center

“The Strength of Specialty Graphics” by Dan Marx in

Roland VersaCAMM



Photographer Creates Custom Art Prints for Corporate Offices

While researching a magazine article on art collecting, I had a great conversation with artist Bonny Lhotka. She told me about some of the art works she has been commissioned to create for corporate clients. She said many corporations want something that conveys their brand and what they do. Instead of displaying graphic advertising or posters in their reception areas, they want art that conveys a subtle connection to their business.

Not long after that interview, I ran across a news release about a photographic art project that reinforces what Bonny had told me about opportunities for talented artists and photographers.

When designing their new corporate headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona, executives at Clear Channel Outdoor America (CCOA) wanted custom artwork that would add visual interest to their offices while conveying the essence of their brand. So they commissioned photographic artist Nat Coalson to create six large-format canvas art prints that give viewers a sense of the wide range of clients who advertise on their assortment of billboards and other out-of-home displays. Because CCOA prides itself on offering innovative solutions, they wanted art that went beyond traditional documentary-style photography.

So, Coalson used a decidedly abstract style to create a collection of photo montages. Each montage provides enough detail to convey the CCOA brand.

“We commissioned Nat to capture a set of unique images of a rather mundane subject: outdoor billboards,” said Ron Cooper, former CEO of Clear Channel Outdoor Americas.  “We wanted something that was consistent with our brand–colorful, exciting, high impact, and easy to identify, but less ‘literal’ than a typical head-on photograph of a billboard. Nat delivered a creative and clever interpretation of our ‘product’ that is now an integral part of the new corporate office decor.”

Originally from Colorado and now based in the United Kingdom, Nat Coalson has worked professionally in design, photography, digital imaging, and printing since 1987. His work has been exhibited extensively and he is the author of many photography-related books, including “Nature Photography Photo Workshop” and “Lightroom 4: Streamlining Your Digital Photography Process.”

To start the series for Clear Channel Outdoors, Coalson used high-resolution digital cameras including Hasselblad H4D and Canon EOS 5D Mark II systems to photograph billboards and other advertising structures at locations in Los Angeles, California and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Over four days of shooting in the two cities, he produced nearly 1500 photographs. Throughout the shoot, clients could see online proofs of all of the work in progress.

CCOA team leaders then selected which billboards and advertising structures they wanted to include in each of the finished artworks. The chosen images were then paired with photographic backgrounds featuring iconic landmarks selected from CCOA’s key markets across the U.S.

Using digital compositing capabilities in Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Lightroom, Coalson seamlessly merged the billboard structures with the background plates. To complete each composite, he added actual advertising imagery from CCOA’s client archives onto the face of billboard.

The digital images were printed by The Studio, a fine art printmaking agency in Phoenix, and installed in custom aluminum frame structures supplied by FM Solutions, the interior design firm that handled the build-out of the CCOA offices.

The images hang in locations throughout two floors of the CCOA office space and integrate well with the décor. Like CCOA’s billboards, the finished art has visual “stopping power.”


Nat Coalson Fine Art + Design Website

Books by Nat Coalson

Yonder Creates DNA Portraits in Neon

Each person’s DNA is entirely unique and holds the basic code about who we are as individuals. Yonder biology is a San Diego-based art/science collaborative that can convert your DNA into a distinctive portrait for wall display. Using DNA gathered from a simple cheek swab, Yonder’s scientists interpret the DNA code in the Yonder biology lab. Then, the group’s artists use the interpretation to create wall art that people can point to and say, “That’s me!”

“We understand the beauty in this genetic code and want to provide an artistic window for people to share their individuality with others,” says a Yonder spokesperson.

You can choose t have your DNA displayed on photo paper, canvas, acrylic, or aluminum. Or, with Yonder’s new Niteo collection, you can create art that glows, with the use of neon, LED, or EL wire.

Yonder provides a dedicated consultant for each project. And you will receive a ‘DNA Art Guide’ that describes the scientific meaning behind your artwork.

This story represents yet another exmaple of how creative entrepreneurs are building businesses to meet the growing demand for custom wall art with personal meaning.


Yonder Biology: The DNA Art Company


Personalized Decor Prints Last Longer Than Valentine’s Flowers



Personalized Décor Prints Last Longer Than Valentine Flowers

If you convert images into photo merchandise or wall art, the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day can be a good time to promote your creations as gifts.

Several press releases issued earlier this year suggested that wall-size prints can make great gifts for Valentine’s Day.  Not only will a wall print last longer than flowers, but it can also provide a year-round visual reminder of memorable moments in a relationship.

Enterprising companies promoted the ability the create custom wall art from Instagram photos, kiss prints, and lovemaking sessions.

DNA 11 Turns Kisses into Eye Candy

With a DNA 11 Kiss Print, you can immortalize your smooch on canvas. Or, you can give your Valentine a Kiss Print Gift Kit and create a “kiss print” as a couple.

Creating a kiss print is fun, four-step process.

  • Order the Kiss collection kit.
  • Apply the provided Revolution Organics lipstick.
  • Kiss the sheets in the kiss-collection pad until you get the lip-print look you want.
  • Send your lip print to DNA 11 for enlargement and printing on canvas.

When you order the lip print, you can choose the size and color combination that best fits with the rest of your décor.  The art can be sent in a ready-to-hang form or as a rolled print in a tube.

DNA 11 can also create a contemporary, ultra-personalized portrait from your DNA or fingerprints.


DNA 11

CanvasPop Suggests Printing Memorable Instagram Images

CanvasPop, which made news with the launch of its Instagram canvas prints service, is promoting custom photo art as a more meaningful, visually expressive alternative to a traditional off-the-shelf Valentine’s card.

“The best thing about photos is that they’re so personal and have the ability to hold such meaning. That’s why it’s the perfect sentimental Valentine’s Day gift.” said Spencer Callaghan, director of marketing at CanvasPop.

“Whether this is your first or fiftieth Valentine’s Day with that significant other, the key to giving a memorable Valentine’s Day gift is creativity—the thought that went into it,” he adds.

In an online press release, CanvasPop suggests creative ways that customers can convert their pictures into gift-worthy wall art:

  • A picture of where you first met with an added vintage filter.
  • A family photo enlivened with a pop-art filter.
  • A wedding photo printed on canvas with an accent color isolated.
  • A close-up photo of an item with perosnal meaning (ring, flower, etc.).
  • A photo of a memorable trip.

CanvasPop provides custom canvas-printing services to photographers, digital artsts, interior designers, and consumers. The company prides itself on being able to print any image (including Facebook, iPhone and Instagram pictures) at virtually any size regardless of the original resolution of the image.


CanvasPop Instagram Prints

Commemorate the Art of Lovemaking

With the “Love is Art” kit, you and your partner can turn a lovemaking session into a memorable piece of expressionist art on canvas.  After your “painting” is complete, you can stretch and frame the canvas for display in your home.

The $60 kit includes:

  • a 54 x 41-inch specially treated, non-allergenic white cotton canvas
  • an 80 x 90-inch plastic sheet to protect surfaces from paint splashes
  • a 4-oz. bottle of specially formulated black, non-toxic washable paint
  • two pairs of disposable paper slippers
  • a custom body scrubber

The kit was created by abstract artist Jeremy Brown, who has been making paintings during intimacy for over a decade. After being complimented on a personal work of art in his own home, Brown was inspired to create artists’ kits for others. He spent six months researching and developing appropriate materials to ensure a safe project.


Love is Art Kit