I love Society6, simple as that! Unlike my other reviews (which can be seen in the following places: Part 1: Foundfolios, Part 2: Illustrationmundo, Part 3: Hire an Illustrator), Society6 isn't a portfolio promotion site -- it's a site where you post your art and it's sold as a digital print, stretched on a canvas, printed on a t-shirt, printed on a hoodie, as an iphone case, on a greeting card, or as a laptop skin. The best part? Society6 does all the printing, billing, and shipping for you!
The other best part of Society6 is the respect they have for artists' copyright. Here's a basic overview of their selling practices. You control your rights, you get to set your prices. Before I sign up for any of these types of services I make sure to read their Terms of Service. Some are not quite so respectful so if you are interested in selling your work online I urge you to wade through all the legalese!
I've ordered a digital print, a t-shirt, and an iphone case from them and I'm pleased with the quality of all the items.
Here are some pics I took with my chintzy iphone3 camera -- of my lovely Society6 iphone3 case! Here is how it looks on my Society6 shop page. And don't worry, they sell an iphone4 version as well for the more technologically with-it people out there :P. I've been using this case for more than a year with no issues. I don't remove it that often so I don't know if that skinny bit of plastic on the side will break if bothered too much, but it certainly hasn't broken with day-to-day use. The only slightly odd thing is how dirty the inside of the case looks; that's how it looked the first day I got it! But of course, it's not a big deal when the case is on my phone. It's a shiny plastic shell which can be slippery. That took a little getting used to!
And here's the t-shirt I ordered. Here's how it looks on my shop page. Society6 uses American Apparel t-shirts, which are very high quality and made in the USA. I've used American Apparel shirts a bunch of times when I make my own silkscreen t-shirts and I've always been pleased with the results. The colours on the shirt I ordered are bright and the lines are decent. Certainly not as crisp as a digital print on paper but I suppose there's only so much that can be done on fabric using the particular printing technique they use on their clothing items. The inks here are kind of translucent so if you order a lemon yellow shirt the yellowness will show through the art. It makes for a slightly faded vintage look. I'd order from them again!
Here's a pic of the digital print I ordered. No complaints here! The colours are bright, the lines are crisp, and the tones are lovely. I put the mat and frame on myself, although Society6 does sell them already framed and ready to hang as well. The frames they use are made from " solid wood claimed from socially and environmentally responsible forests" and they use shatterproof acrylic instead of glass AND an acid-free dust cover on the back! I love their attention to detail and devotion to quality.
Another cool thing about Society6 is that it occasionally organizes artist collaborations with participating partners such as EA, MTV, and Vans. These collabs can involve gallery showings, limited edition zines, and more. After you become a member it's easy to apply to be in a collab, but a very small number of people are chosen. I have yet to get in, but I hope to some day!
Like Illustrationmundo, Society6 also functions as an artist community where you can follow your favourite artists and promote specific pieces you love with the click of a button. However, Society6 is not the place you want to post work you've just published in a book or magazine unless your relationship with your client is such that they would allow you to sell products using the image they've just commissioned! Society6 isn't a portfolio promotion site at all -- it's something completely different and terrific.
I maintained an Etsy store for a little while but I eventually decided I didn't want to deal with the hassle of hauling my original art from place to place (I split my time between Toronto and Calgary) or with shipping stuff direct to a customer and worrying if it didn't get there. Society6 takes that all out of my hands and I love that.
Society6 doesn't drive traffic to my site or blog but that's not what it's for. I've been with them for a year and a few months and I've sold eight things. That's not going to pay the bills but every bit helps and I get a major rush every time someone does buy something with one of my images on it! That thrill is worth more than the money. And because Society6 is a free site (they take a cut of your sales) that money is 100% profit. Very hard to argue with that.
They make it super easy to promote your shop page on your site or blog with a handy-dandy widget (you can see it in the right-hand margin of this blog) that will cycle through your artwork and stick it on the various types of merchandise. Slick!
In conclusion, out of all the sites I've reviewed so far this is the one I'd more heartily recommend. It's the one site that provides services I'm simply not equipped to offer myself! I don't really need a separate portfolio promo site or a destination to post my latest illustration news; that's what my portfolio site and blog are for. Still, it's always a good idea to get stick your work in as many places as you can because there's no telling where people's eyes are.