Thoughts on Instacanv.as

July 19th, 2012

Instacanv.as: the concept is basically in the name – make canvas prints from your own Instagram photos or set up a gallery to sell them to the public. Without getting into the very dull debate about whether Instagram is ruining “real” photography  (give me a break), is there enough of a demand for this kind of service? I don’t know, but I’ve had a few people request prints and I’m too much of a control freak to ever sell anything without knowing what the quality is like irl, so I ordered one to check it out.

I was most sceptical about the quality of a print they could get out of an instagram-sized (612×612) image. On their site they say they’ve “developed proprietary image resizing technology” but it looks like a pretty basic upsize with a bit of noise reduction on it to me. The effect is not at all unpleasant, for something you’re putting on the wall it looks pretty great up close. The photo I got was from from an iphone 4s, I guess the quality might depend on the original photo. Maybe they should just let users upload their full-res images though?

It took a couple of weeks to get here (from the US to UK) and I didn’t have to pay any import duties/taxes. When I ordered back in June the European shipping was $14, but is now a bargain $5. The 12″x12″ canvas cost $39.95, which compares to £29.99 for the cheapest Photobox canvas of the same size and I think the quality is much nicer. The canvas is thick and the whole thing feels really sturdy and solid. I wish there was an option to continue the image all the way to the edges, but that’s maybe my own personal crazy.

Regarding the artist selling aspect, I’m pretty doubtful that it would make any money for anyone other than Instacanv.as (or unless you’re an Instagram superstar maybe). Photographers make 20% per canvas, which is ok-ish considering they’re doing all the work for you. However, you have to make over $100 before they actually pay out which seems nonsensical (it’s paypal, can’t they automate it?) and shady as hell. If the photographer makes $7.99 on a $39.95 print (using the smallest canvas as an example), they have to sell 13 before payment is made. This means that if you only sell 12 ever, Instacanv.as have made $479.40 without having to pay ~The Artist~ anything. I’m calling shenanigans. (Instacanv.as have pointed out that they will also pay out quarterly even if you don’t get to $100, see comments for details)
I also think they should offer dramatically reduced prices on a sample canvas for photographers to check out the quality for themselves before offering them to others. It’s only fair.

On a side note, their entire Artist interface is like crazy town early days pre-alpha, I’m kind of amazed that they’ve been around for a few months without even launching basic statistics.

On the whole, nice canvases, not sure about the rest quite yet. I’m not particularly attached to my Instagram photos, so I can overlook the lack of control in a way that I never would with my “proper” prints (which is why I don’t use things like society6) so I thought I’d give it a go, but I’m not holding my breath to see any commission from it. My gallery is here, let’s see what happens?

Cat included for size comparison.

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34 Comments

  1. mini says:

    oh my goodness, the cat is adorable :3

    and it would make a good print, haha

    reply

  2. Kim says:

    I’m enjoying the cat/size comparison photo!

    I think their payment method to artists is quite unfair, although probably done deliberately I guess to make money from other people’s snaps.

    reply

  3. Trude says:

    LOL love the size comparison! :) Thanks for the review. It would really bug me that it’s not full wrap-around! Might as well go with my own printers that I use for everything else. Interesting concept for those like you that are really harnessing Instagram and doing amazing artistic things.

    reply

  4. Lanna says:

    If instacanvas sold cats they’d make more money.

    reply

    Bun says,

    July 20th, 2012 @ 1:09 am

    LOL!!

    reply

  5. mat says:

    it does sound quite appealing until you break it down in price/amount of sales. interesting idea and i’ve seen another company doing this too but you can’t use filter. same concept though. i like the fact you took the risk to do this though, that’s commitment to your trade even if it isn’t “pure”

    reply

  6. Kim says:

    Awesome write-up, Kris. I JUST read about these canvases this morning on my feed reader! Always love your honest and unbiased opinion — and of course, I appreciate the use of Matilda for size reference. :)

    reply

  7. Ben says:

    Hi Kristina,

    Ben from Instacanv.as here. We are so glad you love the prints! Just wanted to correct you on the payouts. Any commission you make on the site is yours. We are definitely not taking your artwork for nothing :)

    We wait until after $100 to reduce paypal fees, but if you don’t reach $100 quickly we still make payouts quarterly.

    Hope that helps clear things up!

    Feel free to reach out anytime, ben@instacanv.as is where you can find me.

    Hope you’re having a great week!

    –Ben

    reply

    kris atomic says,

    July 20th, 2012 @ 12:37 am

    Hi Ben,

    Thanks for clarifying! I’ll edit the post.

    It doesn’t actually say that in your FAQ though, so perhaps you could amend it?

    That does make a big difference, so I’m glad that is the case.
    I look forward to seeing how the service/site develops in the future!

    Kris

    reply

    Ben says,

    July 20th, 2012 @ 12:49 am

    Yes, we will make that MUCH more clear :)

    Thanks for being honest about everything. We are constantly working to improve and I assure you there is a lot more coming soon!

    reply

    kris atomic says,

    July 20th, 2012 @ 12:45 am

    oops, this is the link I meant – http://help.instacanv.as/customer/portal/articles/495854-do-i-make-money-on-my-photos-

    reply

  8. 3lin says:

    The picture is really pretty. I love how you match it with the cute cat. hehe
    3lin

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  9. Bun says:

    Wow- great review. I was curious about how this all worked exactly…

    reply

  10. ashley says:

    matilda’s coat is so epic!

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  11. Great review of an interesting service. I might try it sometime. The photo you chose looks so beautiful. But GAAAHHH!!! THAT CAT IS SO ADORABLE <3<3<3

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  12. Gracie says:

    The cat has made my day and it is only 9.03

    reply

  13. Sara G says:

    i love your write up/reviews. And how cute is Matlida.

    reply

  14. laura says:

    best size comparison ever.

    reply

  15. [...] can order and sell your Instagram photos as canvases now with Instacanv.as (thanks to Krisatomic for the review)! I know I’m ridiculously behind schedule, but I’m saving up for an [...]

  16. Steph says:

    After viewing your gallery, I would think you’d have no problem selling those 13 you need to reach $100. Beautiful shots; really. The colours are superb.

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  17. Joost says:

    So did anyone actually sell anything on Instacanvas allready?

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    kris atomic says,

    October 28th, 2012 @ 9:16 pm

    I haven’t sold anything, though I can’t say I’ve put any effort in to promoting it or anything. x

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  18. Nicky says:

    Thanks Kris for your useful review. I know it’s tricky area, but my other issue regarding instacanvas is about copyright – it seems as if they get all rights on the image once you post it?

    Anyway, I am left with the same question as Joost: did anyone actually sell anything on Instacanvas already? Did you sell, for example?

    Thanks for sharing feedback,
    Nicoletta

    @nicky_dt on Instagram

    reply

    kris atomic says,

    October 28th, 2012 @ 9:15 pm

    Hi Nicky, sorry for the late reply!

    Regarding copyright, the pertinent section of their Terms says:
    “…you are: (i) granting Company and its affiliates, a worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, sub-licensable, transferable, non-exclusive, non-revocable license to use the User Content in connection with the operation of Company, and its affiliates, including without limitation, a right to use, host, copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, reproduce, edit, translate, create derivative works of and reformat the User Content…”
    which isn’t too bad really (in the grand scheme of copyright online), it doesn’t appear to be an outright rights grab. Having said that, I’m not particularly attached to my instagram photos, so it’s not that much of a concern for me. I can’t say I’d do the same with my “proper” photos though, you know?

    I haven’t sold anything!

    kris x

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    Chris says,

    November 1st, 2012 @ 3:36 am

    Hi Kris, this does seem to me that you are giving up all rights to your photos when you sign on at instagram? I was really enjoying instagram and had more than 50 shots up with my instacanvas gallery too. Then another user accused me of stealing (which was not true!) I got scared since I didn’t watermark any of the shots for printing purposes. So, I deleted all my shots any only put up a few with copyright mark, and took down my store since I don’t want to watermark to print if someone really did want to purchase. This might have been a spamer since it showed up again when I put the the watermark ones, but it really freaked me out! Not sure if I want to use instagram now. I’ve never had this happen on Facebook :) …your thoughts on this? Thank you so much for posting this…it makes me want to use instagram again. Oh, I also read this post that kinda freaked me out too: http://iambaker.net/the-ugly-truth-about-instagram/ I really don’t think any of my photos would get to this level, but would feel really bummed if someone stole from me in this way!
    Chris

    reply

    kris atomic says,

    November 1st, 2012 @ 1:55 pm

    A few issues here:

    The terms and conditions above (and the general discussion) is about Instacanvas, not Instagram, separate companies with different policies.

    Marking your images with copyright symbols doesn’t make them any more copyrighted than they already were, they are your property on creation. Why were you freaked out when someone accused you of stealing them?! If they’re yours, they’re yours, it’s not like watermarking them would prove it either way!

    I hate watermarks and would never use them myself (because they look ugly), though I understand why other people do. I also take issue with the idea that you “should” put watermarks on your images to protect them. It’s not the responsibility of the creator to prevent their images from being stolen, especially at the detriment of the image quality. Anyway, watermarks aren’t hard to remove, so it’s a complete waste of time as far as I’m concerned. I will not make every image on my site/blog look like a hot mess on the off chance that it stops people from stealing them.

    On the whole, I use instagram for fun pics I take with my phone. As I say in the post, I’m not particularly attached to my instagram photos, so although obviously it would be wrong and I’d be pissed off if someone stole them (which has happened actually, someone took my totally generic photo of a stir fry and reposted it as if it were their own! SO WEIRD) I kind of have to pick my battles, or I would spend my life defending my copyright and never have time to make anything in the first place. I’ve had companies steal my illustrations and print them on cards, t-shirts, bags. My photos have been printed in magazines and used by brands without permission. If I started suing every idiot who posted my instagram photo without credit, that would be a pretty miserable life.

    I think I got a bit sidetracked and not been very helpful really! Sorry!
    Kris

    reply

    Chris says,

    November 1st, 2012 @ 3:40 am

    Please explain why you feel this copyright is “not too bad in the scheme of things?”
    Thanks for your reply,
    Chris

    reply

    kris atomic says,

    November 1st, 2012 @ 1:30 pm

    Hey Chris,

    I said it’s not too bad because to me it reads like they take rights from you “in connection with the operation of (the) Company”, so for example to display your images on their home page, in the galleries or even to print them out for you. I could be wrong of course (I’m not a lawyer!) but it does not seem as sinister as some of the other T&Cs I’ve read, just a standard lawyer-y wording to cover their arse.
    It’s up to you to make the right choice for you though, if you’re not comfortable with the Terms, definitely don’t use the service!

    reply

  19. Colleen says:

    Pretty print. Awesome cat.

    reply

  20. Patrick Ryan says:

    Hi Kris

    I was delighted to read your review of the Instacanvas prints. They are a great company and have a super business in my opinion. I also know very well how good their prints are because I made yours!

    Over the summer of 2012, my company The Canvas Works was handling all their European orders and I had the pleasure of personally printing your image and getting it away to you. All our prints are made on Epson 9800 machines and crucially we only use tulip wood for our stretcher bars – not cheaper pine. That’s why they feel so robust and solid. We’ve been doing it for a long time and would be one of the leading online retailers in Ireland making these prints.

    In recent times, we’ve branched out into producing our own range of vintage style travel posters – http://thecanvasworks.ie/search.asp?CatID=1&SubCatID=53

    Anyway, I am glad you liked your print and can happily recommend Instacanvas to all your readers – it’s a very well run business and one which I believe will continue to innovate and grow through 2013.

    Best Regards
    Patrick Ryan
    The Canvas Works.

    reply

  21. yumna says:

    Any luck on selling prints yet? I’m considering signing up but 20% is way too low IMO. I’m also looking for a way to give a “fuck-you” to instagram’s new TOS, if they can sell my photos without permission or share, then I should start selling them too!

    Was looking at http://printstagr.am/, which offers cheap cute prints, but nothing canvas size, but still fair pricing (considering we’d have to handle shipping, but could still manage our own sale prices and profits)

    HMMMM!

    reply

  22. anna macko says:

    Did you end up selling anything? Can you post a 1 year update?

    reply

    kris atomic says,

    November 3rd, 2013 @ 4:35 pm

    I actually just got a transfer of like $8 from them a couple of weeks ago, so I guess I sold something! That’s the first time though, so I’m not really blow away ;)

    reply

  23. Niklas says:

    Hi,

    I have an Instacanvas Gallery too (instacanv.as/niklas_gre) and it’s open now for 3 weeks.
    I didn’t sell anything but I have 108 visits at all.

    Did you sell something now?

    reply

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