In January 2012, I decided to try a little “pay it forward” experiment: I offered a free print to the first five friends who commented on a Facebook thread. Ideally, it would be a win-win for all concerned: they’d get a one-of-a-kind piece of wall decor and I’d get experience making good prints. I set a deadline of December 31, 2012, and I almost made it…but not quite, as we will see below.
A devout Lutheran friend asked for something “Confessionally Lutheran, if possible” on 8.5″x11″, and picked this:
A friend born in Champaign, an organist who played and practiced in Smith Memorial Hall, wanted this on 13″x19″:
An old college buddy and fellow EE student liked this:
A friend in New Mexico, a brilliant computer scientist who has found improvements for some of the most basic algorithms in numerical linear algebra, liked this:
A friend in California said “I like surprises” and asked for 13″x19″. He programs computer games, which is as close to building castles in the air as we mortals can get, so this seemed appropriate:
And here’s where I got stuck; I have not yet made a print I like of this picture. The correct solution would have been to make a print of a different image, one with which I was satisfied, but being a stubborn fellow, I decided I’d make my friend a satisfactory print of this image, even if it took longer than Dec 31. I still haven’t made that satisfactory print, and I don’t see myself making it anytime soon. Thankfully, the dilemma was resolved when my friend requested a version of this for his computer wallpaper:
He’ll now be getting one for his physical wallpaper too. 😉
What have I learned? Several important things, actually:
- If I want to start selling such prints, I’m going to have to think deeply through my supply chain and workflow to make it both economical and efficient.
- Paper and ink have nowhere near the capacity to handle subtle dark details that sensors and monitors do.
- There is great satisfaction in seeing a finished print and knowing that someone besides me wants it.
- Shipping is cheap, until one needs to guard against certain kinds of damage. Then it gets expensive.
So now that I’m (almost) done, I think I can say that it remains as good an idea as it was at the start, and has been a most worthwhile endeavor.