Unique Mother’s Day Gift – No More Flowers and Chocolate

With Mother’s Day approaching fast, it’s time to begin thinking about how best to express how much Mommy Dearest means to us. If you’re like most, Mother’s Day has become a routine that consists of a greeting card, a bouquet of flowers, and a phone call to say “I love you”. And though mom surely loves the sentiment, perhaps 2005 should be a year when you put a bit more creativity into your gift idea.

How about giving the gift of art? Several businesses across the country create one-of-a-kind, stylish, and sentimental works of art from customers’ photographs, often for a price less than what you’d pay for a mass-produced department store print.

Here are just a few examples:

  • What mom wouldn’t want pictures of her kids? Have a baby picture or a photo of siblings playing made into an oil painting;
  • Have a picture of mom from when she was younger made into a stunning watercolor portrait;
  • Have a pastel or charcoal sketch made form a photo of the family on vacation;
  • Have an ink drawing made of mom’s house and garden;
  • Feeling bold? Have a close-up shot of mom’s face made into an Andy Warhol style pop art.

The process couldn’t be simpler. You place an order from the company’s website. Typically you can choose from various styles of artwork and even provide special instructions just as you would if you were buying expensive commissioned artwork. Then you send the company your photograph(s). You can upload or email a digital photo, or you can send printed photos by mail. Within a matter of days, a custom work of art will be created from your photograph. Some sites allow you to view a proof of your artwork online so you can request changes. Once you are satisfied, the artwork will be shipped to you.

Prices and quality vary, so be sure to compare once you know what you would like. Some of the companies below (ezPortrait and myDaVinci) offer artwork that is created completely by hand (typically by using low-cost yet qualified artists who live in other countries), while the others utilize primarily digital technology.

Although all of the companies below offer artwork done in an “oil painting” style, many offer far more variety. Check out the unique contemporary styles like “Modern Outline” and “Ghost” that Pictoart offers. Photowow offers a couple fun “Comic” options. These more abstract and whimsical styles provide an artistic alternative to the standard impressionistic oil painting and may look more at home in modern décors.

Some customers like to play a role in selecting colors and composition for the final artwork. All of the services below will be happy to take into account any special requests, so you can be sure the finished work of art will complement mom’s sofa fabric. In addition, with the exception of Canvas on Demand, all the services provide a digital proofing process that allows customers to preview the artwork and request changes before the final artwork is shipped.

Prices will depend on whether the art is created on paper or stretched canvas, which style is chosen, and how large the final work is. It seemed that all of the services reviewed use professional quality materials, including acid-free paper and archival-quality giclée printing processes.

Be sure you fully understand the guarantee and return policy before placing an order. Being able to view a digital proof before your order is shipped provides quite a bit of peace of mind that what Mom gets will be something she loves. However, it’s good to know that you can get a refund if you aren’t completely satisfied once the art arrives at your door. While both Canvas on Demand and Pictoart provide full 30-day money back guarantees (minus S&H), myDaVinci will only provide store credit. Photowow states that it will provide a full refund if you return your item within 10 days of receipt, but another page on their site also indicates that the “design” portion of their fee is not refundable. Both ezPortrait and Photosyrup had unclear or nonexistent policies regarding customer options for refunds once the proof is approved and the product is shipped. If you’re worried, be sure to ask before placing an order.

Here is a summary of six popular services that create artwork from photos (listed in alphabetical order):

Canvas on Demand  http://www.canvasondemand.com

Products: Framed and unframed stretched canvas; 8"x10" up to 24"x36"

Styles of Artwork: Oil Painting

Turnaround Time: 4-5 days to completion

Online Proof: No

Guarantee: 30 day 100% refund (minus S&H)

Prices: $60 to $200; additional fees for adding brush stokes and retouching; $15-25 for S&H

Baseline Price*: $193 + $25 S&H

Comments: Limited product choices, straightforward ordering process (some order form and shopping cart errors encountered)

Overall Rating**: 3 out of 5

ezPortrait   http://www.ezportrait.com

Products: Unframed stretched canvas and art paper; 12"x16" up to 24"x36"

Styles of Artwork: Oil Painting & Pastel/Charcoal

Turnaround Time: 12-14 days to proof completion

Online Proof: A digital photo is emailed to customer for approval

Guarantee: Refund if customer is not happy with online proof

Prices: $200 to $400 for portraits with one person; additional fees for additional people; free standard shipping; $30 priority shipping

Baseline Price: $400 + $30 S&H

Comments: These works are done completely by hand, simple ordering process, specializes in portraits

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

myDaVinci   http://www.mydavinci.com

Products: Framed and unframed stretched canvas and artist paper; 8"x10" up to 36"x48"

Styles of Artwork: Over 20 styles including: Oil Painting, Watercolor, Pencil, Pop, Caricatures, Etching

Turnaround Time: 14-21 days (depending on style chosen)

Online Proof: Yes, but may cost extra for some products

Guarantee: 30 day 100% refund for store credit only

Prices: $50 to $600 for portraits with one person; additional fees for additional people; free standard shipping on some products

Baseline Price: $500 + $18 S&H

Comments: Many works are done completely by hand, many styles to choose from, ordering process and prices vary by artwork style making it more difficult to determine price or compare options

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

Photosyrup   [http://www.photosyrup.com]

Products: Unframed stretched canvas and artist paper; 12"x12" up to 24"x36"

Styles of Artwork: Pop, Oil Painting, Collage

Turnaround Time: 5-10 days to proof completion

Online Proof: A digital photo is emailed to customer for approval

Guarantee: No policy provided

Prices: $120 to $215 for portraits with one person; additional fees for additional people

Baseline Price: $200 + $9 S&H (standard shipping)

Comments: Must create account before placing an order, no clear refund policy, shipping fees not listed until order fully entered

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5

Photowow   http://www.photowow.com

Products: Framed and unframed stretched canvas and artist paper; 11"x14" up to 48"x60"; additional products like mugs, pillows, shirts, etc.

Styles of Artwork: Over 20 styles including: Pop, Collage, Oil Painting, Comic, Watercolor

Turnaround Time: 7 days to proof completion

Online Proof: A digital proof is viewable on their website for customer approval Guarantee: 10 day 100% refund; however, order cancellation fees may apply

Prices: $140 to $550; additional fees for additional people for some styles; fees for design, print, and canvas stretching

Baseline Price: $389 + $34 S&H

Comments: Many styles to choose from, straightforward ordering process, fees for additional options cause prices to increase quickly

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Pictoart   http://www.pictoart.com

Products: Framed and unframed stretched canvas and artist paper; 4"x6" up to 30"x60"

Styles of Artwork: 14 styles including Pop, Oil, Watercolor, Etching, Cutout, Ghost, Sketch

Turnaround Time: 3 days to proof completion

Online Proof: A digital proof is viewable on their website for customer approval

Guarantee: 30 day 100% refund (minus S&H)

Prices: $50 to $370; no additional fees for multiple people or different styles; $8 to $40 for S&H

Baseline Price: $369 + $39 S&H

Comments: Many styles to choose from, straightforward ordering process; clear pricing for all products and shipping

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

This year, rather than sending mom a bouquet of flowers, how about sending her a beautiful painting of flowers from her garden! So round up a few great photos and give the gift of art. Not only will it make her wall look good, it’ll make you look good too.

* For effective comparison, a baseline product was chosen that all six services offer: A 24″x36″ unframed work of a single subject done in an “oil painting” style and created on stretched canvas. USPS Priority shipping (or equivalent) was chosen.

** Ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 = poor, 3 = fair, 5 = excellent.

Cherish Your Memories Forever by Creating Personalized Canvas Prints

Canvas art prints have become the must-have home accessory for this century. Most homes have at least one print. These prints take many forms including abstract, modern art, landscapes and animals. However more and more people are using their own photos to create personalized works of art.

The digital camera has revolutionized the way we take photos. The ability to take hundreds of photographs without film has many benefits. Unfortunately there is a major drawback with the digital camera – we very rarely print our photos. The fate of most photos taken with a digital camera will be to end up on a computer hard drive, a memory card or worst still being deleted to make room for more photos that will never be looked at. Gone are the days when we would return from a wedding or a vacation and show off our photos to friends and family. We have become a nation obsessed with immediate gratification of images, looked at once then forgotten.

Why not preserve your digital photos by transforming them into beautiful canvas art prints. These prints, if manufactured correctly can last a lifetime. The major benefit of canvas prints is that because they are generated from digital images they can be enlarged to practically any size.

With modern technology canvas prints are becoming very economical as more and more photo to canvas printing companies compete for your business. Most company websites will have a preview facility that lets you preview your canvas before you buy.

We love taking photos and we love happy memories, so why not cherish these happy times forever with a canvas print.

Giclee Fine Art Prints – An Affordable Alternative

It is often said that life is not complete without beauty. And where is beauty more evident than in art? Thus, from the wealthiest to the modest, one would more often than not invest in at least one piece of art. However, there are growing numbers of individuals who would like to build their own art collection but are hindered by the cost of an original piece.

With the rise of fine art prints, collecting works of art is no longer limited to the wealthy alone. Fine art commonly refers to artistic expression that is geared towards aesthetic appeal rather than utility or commercial gain. Fine art is created using a number of different mediums and disciplines including pencils, pastels, oil paints, acrylic paints, watercolors, silkscreen, woodblock and even digital art to name a few. Subject matter is also as varied as the mediums and includes images from realism to abstract.

Fine art prints are traditionally printed reproductions of original artwork. However, many would attest that the print is itself an original work of art. To create a fine art print, in the traditional sense, the artist forms an image through woodcut or etching. Ink is then applied to the surface of the woodcut or etching. Then the inked surface is transferred to paper making an impression or print. Prints are usually signed and numbered by the artist and would form part of a limited edition. Thus, through this process, the artwork becomes available to a greater number of individuals to be appreciated and enjoyed.

Within the realm of fine art prints, as a result of improved digital imaging technology, Giclee (jee-clay) reproduction has emerged as the premier process for reproducing original works into the print medium. This process has given new life to fine art reproductions and extended the reach of artists to a larger audience. The process derives its name from the French verb “gicler” that means ‘to spray or to squirt’ and gives us a hint as to how the process works. In Giclee, the source of the reproduction is a digital image that results in the most accurate and detailed source image from which the reproduction is made. The digital image is then reproduced on high-quality ink-jet printers using archival inks and papers producing an exhibition quality Giclee fine art print with a life expectancy that spans generations.

What makes the Giclee process so special is that the image is amazingly accurate when compared to the original. This includes all the tonalities and hues of the colors as well as the texture of the source medium including the weave of a canvas or the texture of watercolor paper. Moreover, no visible dot screen pattern can be seen. The printing process is more like weaving the images into the medium. Through this process, the artist is able to prepare an image digitally and print limited copies over time compared to printing larger runs which in turn requires a printing press.

The beauty of fine art prints is that they enable artistically inclined middle class individuals to collect art pieces themselves. Thus, this kind of hobby is no longer limited to the elite or the wealthy. Giclee fine art prints offer a significant savings to the high priced original art works they are created from. With their exceptional quality a Giclee reproduction is nearly indistinguishable from their source work and represent an exceptional alternative to original works for adorning homes and offices. They not only enhance the architectural or interior design of a room, but create a special ambiance as well. A Giclee fine art print will also serve as a great gift for loved ones for any occasion and is sure to be appreciated.