Thoughts on Instacanv.as
19 July 12
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 (612x612) 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.