It’s fascinating how many digital photo printing sites are fighting for a page one google ranking. Why are there so many photo to canvas printing sites? More people have digital cameras and businesses want to make money from this market for ultra-personalized artwork. But, why do folks want to turn their lives into artwork? That’s the question, and the answer’s as obvious as a 25-carat cubic zirconia: “BLING!” Two small New York subcultures captured the media attention in the mid-1970s, Punk and Hip Hop (sorry England, you can’t take credit for birthing the Punk, only proliferating it). Little did we know it at the time, but these two subcultures would battle it out to become the dominant marketing-cultural paradigms of the Western World. Let’s meet our candidates. Both Punk and Hip Hop are “folk” movements, not in a musical sense, but in a grassroots sense. The subcultures gave hope to their participants though artistic expression, simultaneously creating unity while seeking empowerment. The different tools the subcultures employed were not limited to music, but also included how you speak, how you dress, and how you move. Both subcultures used the DIY (do-it-yourself) mantra to unify and increase the member-base, and provided very basic requirements for their members. The DIY mantra then expands to “Just do it,” express yourself first, worry about progressing your talent second. Can’t play your guitar very well? That’s not a requisite to be on stage; use what you’ve got to convey your message (Punk ethos). Can’t sing? You can rap; you just need something to say (Hip Hop ethos). Where the two subcultures greatly differ is in their view of the Establishment. Hip Hop always sought to become part of it, to attain the values, the objects, and the status of the Establishment. Punk sought to destroy those values. Moreover, Punk, rooted in Western-culture, reinforced self-deprecation as a means to stand-out for its participants. This is a very European concept to make fun of yourself. Hip Hop, rooted in African-culture, reinforced self-glorification as a means to stand-out. This is the dominant cultural standard in the Western World today, to stand-out, to say “LOOK AT ME.” This is why today Hip Hop is still Hip Hop, but Punk--with its destroy the establishment and self-deprecation message--morphed or splintered into many different movements: Indie-rock, Post Punk, Emo, Hipster, and the like. Likewise, regardless of how one’s talent pushes the artist to success, the artist must always be leery of his talent and the Establishment, celebrating it. In the end, maybe it’s better to kill yourself and avoid becoming part of the Establishment? As evidenced in the suicides of Ian Curtis of Joy Division and Kurt Cobain of Nirvana. Do you think Jay-Z or Kanye would ever “off” themselves? Hell No. In contrast to Punk’s self-deprecation is Hip Hop’s belief that the individual and the celebration of the individual are paramount. No matter your income bracket or talent level, people should shine like stars, BLING! Hip Hop’s greatest contribution to the world is BLING! You matter most; start acting like it, even if it proceeds your current status. Conceive + Believe = Achieve. So while you might hear a Ramones' song selling cars or a Clash tune hocking soda, the world we live in is not Punkland, but Planet Hip Hop. Today’s world is about self-celebration, not self-deprecation. Advertising revolves around self-celebration. Television revolves around self-celebration and is the chief contributing factor to the proliferation of Reality TV and YouTube. BLING!, where everyday people shine like stars. So, why are there so many digital photo canvas printing sites? BLING!- consumer products revolve around self-celebration, too. BLING! is for any income bracket, from Oprah to Jessi Slaughter. Canvas Photo Printing is a medium, offering a low cost, high-quality solution to turn yourself into a work of art™. You don’t need to commission an artist to celebrate your fabulous life. You can just upload and have it turned into wall decor. We sell an astronomical amount of photos on canvas. We’ve been at this for ten years, and we’re amazed the orders show no signs of slowing down. We’re launching a micro-site, dedicated to handling just photo upload. It will be very easy to use with an incredibly slick design; because things need to be simple, so people can get back to their fabulous lives. Aside from our quality and price being the best for digital photo canvas printing, the user will not be limited to just canvas. Just like gallerydirect.com, the new micro-site will offer alternative media and framing options. BLING! If you really want to celebrate your fabulousness, you might consider printing your digital photo on a mirror! Footnote: Eminem blew up to hyper-stardom because he was the first to mix the self-deprecation of the Punk-tradition into Hip Hop, a little something for everyone.

Pasticcio, Hip Hop and Andy Warhol

Tweet We recently signed a new artist to a limited edition publishing agreement. Her name is Peggy Weiss, and her work is unique among our collection of artists. It’s a new, digital version of pasticcio. In the art world, the … Read More

We recently signed a new artist to a limited edition publishing agreement. Her name is Peggy Weiss, and her work is unique among our collection of artists. It’s a new, digital version of pasticcio. In the art world, the pasticcio (in French, pastiche) is a composition made from a selection of different works. Peggy utilizes snapshots and deconstructs and reassembles them into convincing works of art, applying—as she goes—her own personal touches with the broad range of instruments available to the digital artist today, such as a mac, networked to a scanner and digital tablet, Photoshop, and various other imaging tools. Peggy’s take on the pasticcio is one of the most unique we’ve seen, slightly edgy, at times haunting, and always familiar lyrical renditions of past and narrative future. We don’t see many submissions from artists working in pastiche, so when we found an artist in our own backyard (Austin, TX), making compelling pasticcio, we were thrilled to sign her.

Recycling Copies

Some critics find pasticcio dangerous, viewing it as a force that seeks to negate the traditional/ancient genres of art. Why? Put simply: painters paint; Sculptors sculpt. A traditional artist is not likely to learn/use a host of new digital tools in order to create art, when a paintbrush and canvas suffice. Moreover, the traditionalists are troubled by pasticcio’s use of existing images or source material to create new, original artwork. We think it’s ironic the “fine arts”—anchored in the strictest traditional parameters—are the last to embrace the dominant paradigm of this age: recycling copies of the familiar to create a new original. This is one definition of hyperrealism. Who do we thank for this brave new world? Hip Hop and Andy Warhol.

Hip Hop and Warhol

In the mid-1970s, a DJ first used two turntables to create new music, blending different existing sourced material, recorded on vinyl records. The New York subculture Hip Hop was born. The originality comes in the combination or the blending of original sourced material rather than creating what is completely new. This New York subculture is now the mainstream. Look at popular music today. You’ll hear previously recorded beats, bass-lines and melodic hooks from past familiar songs, recycled to create a new release. First, because the sourced material has merit (meaning it’s good). Second, because the familiarity of the material creates endearment in the audience. Isn’t this what Andy Warhol did? Recycling copies of the familiar to create a new reality. And the kids go wild. . .

Three Ways to Look at Art

Some people may say there is no art working with copies. We disagree. But then again we are the largest fine art limited edition publisher, printmaker and artisan framer in the world. Our specialty is selling copies of original sourced material. What is art anyway? First, I’ve read art, along with science and philosophy, seeks to order (meaning make sense of) chaos. Second, others might say (new) art seeks to destroy the dominant artistic paradigms or conventions of the past. Third, for many of our customers, art is something to purchase because it goes with their sofa. If you are in the latter referenced group (or any combination of the three for that matter), you might consider our new pasticcio artist, Peggy Weiss. She’s current, just edgy enough, and her artwork would look great over your sofa!
We think the digital camera might be one of the most significant inventions of all time, particularly, the gazillion megapixel cameras of today. The digital camera didn't close down photo development sites or put photographers, en masse, out of work. The digital camera's contribution is simple, yet profound: the amount of people capturing time increased exponentially. Recently, our friends at Fotolia taught us a new term, "the happy accident." It's that one image out of dozens or even hundreds, which makes you go, "WOW!" The one that looks like a professional took the picture, the one that says I have to upload it and turn it into hang-able wall decor. The image that makes you say, "I want my photo as canvas wall art, or framed on paper, or recreated as art on metal, acrylic, or even mirror." At Gallery Direct, we've now reproduced thousands of happy accidents for customers. Most of the images are absolutely stunning. If the photo upload user could consistently reproduce images such as the ones we've turned into wall art, we would sign some of these folks to limited edition fine art publishing agreements. Therein marks the difference between professional and amateur photographers. A professional photographer can capture compelling images readily and without fail. An amateur photographer, such as my 13 year old niece, will take about 2500 pictures to find one happy accident!
A close friend of mine once owned an Aston Martin. It was truly a beautiful car. Inside the door sill, on the driver's side, there was a little personalized plaque that said, "Handbuilt in England for Derek A." I thought that was a nice touch. What does Gallery Direct have in common with Aston Martin? We hand-make each image to your specifications right here in Austin, Texas. Another correlation is Gallery Direct, like Aston Martin, is a mark of supreme quality. Where we differ, thankfully, is affordability. Fine Art For Everyone is our mantra, and everyone here takes this message seriously. Another difference, Derek waited five months to take delivery of his Aston Martin. We ship our clients' custom-made artwork in two to four days. Nice.

Us

We're quintessentially the new style of American art company: combining the quality and customization of a luxury brand with the value and price of a normal household purchase. We are the largest limited edition fine art publisher, printmaker and artisan framer in the world. This means we do it all: we find the artists and the artwork; we market and recreate the art ourselves. There is no middleman between the artwork and your walls. Our commitment to "Made in the U.S.A." resonates in the artists we promote, mouldings we offer, the glass, matboards, paper and canvas we buy. The ink for our über-green, latex printer is made in Puerto Rico, which is technically not the U.S.A., but really close! We're proud to be creating fine American-made artwork for 10 years. Enough about us, let's talk about you.

You

Gallery Direct makes a special experience for the guests to our site, providing you with all the tools that a gallery curator and an interior designer would covet. This is a new genre of art: hyper-pluralism meets fine art production. You create world class fine art by harnessing -- literally -- millions of images, specifying the size, the medium, and framing options, sent to us in an instant and custom-made for you on the fly. Every image you select is available as framed wall art on paper, canvas art, fine art on acrylic, metal art and even imagery presented on mirror; or, make artwork from your photos. Turn yourself into a work of art™. You can't do that in China. Actually, I don't know of anywhere you can do this. Not even art.com offers the type of granular customization we do, and Gallery Direct is still the lowest price on the web. Not even the online canvas printing services can compete with us: not on price, not on quality, and not on customization. The only thing we might be missing is little plaques on the artwork, "handbuilt for _________ in Austin, Texas."

Framed wall art & the insiders’ language

Tweet Products with a higher aesthetic such as art, wine or fashion often have an insiders’ language associated with it. Lay people attempt learning the insiders’ a language to be, or seem, more in the know. Take for instance when … Read More

Products with a higher aesthetic such as art, wine or fashion often have an insiders’ language associated with it. Lay people attempt learning the insiders’ a language to be, or seem, more in the know. Take for instance when someone calls in a reservation to a restaurant and says, “it’s for an 8-top.” The person fielding the call might think the guest’s in the biz, or an insider. Or if someone visits a wine shop and asks the salesperson for a “tannic red,” instead of saying a “really dry red.” It might indicate the customer knows what’s up. A fashion forward shopper might know what a grainline is, why a facing is important, when mitering is useful. On the commercial-side of our business, at Gallery Direct, we adhere to a professional (or insiders’) language. These terms have been used for decades (or longer) and are hallowed by usage and consecrated by time. Consider this your brief tour of industry terms for framed wall art. These words don’t exactly translate well to the consumer-side, meaning we’d never use them to describe our framed art because, well, these are sort of silly sounding. Take the industry term substrate. This is the medium, such as paper, canvas, acrylic, wood, and the like. Lithograph is the fancy word art companies give to their cheap posters made from an off-set printing process. Giclée is the term for a high quality image or limited edition print (i.e. the stuff we sell). Moulding, that’s a good one. This is the frame that goes around artwork. Glazing is probably our favorite silly word, which means the clear glass of the picture. Now you know. This concludes your brief tour of industry terms for framed wall art. For the most part, if you use the above terms, you might sound like an insider . . .but you'll probably sound more like a dork.
Today’s article in the Wall Street Journal entitled The New Rules of Remodeling is a fantastic read, not only because it seems to forecast hope for the U.S. economy, but it also highlights the wherewithal of the American homeowner. The housing market delivers blows, and the American homeowner learns, reacts and adjusts. We love reading stuff like this. Many of the economic factors discussed in the article by M.P. McQueen are influencing Gallery Direct’s business, for sure. Our business is up 65% from last year. People are smarter about remodeling, as homeowners realize they need not worry about flipping their houses, but concern themselves with “making their homes more comfortable for a longer-than-expected stay.” We are very grateful to be part of this movement. We also think there is a paradigm shift in home decorating today. The DIY ethos is moving from the blood-sweat-and-tears legwork of doing it yourself to the role playing of designing it yourself: thinking like a designer, not working like a dog. Television viewers, tuning in to HGTV, see just how difficult it is to DIY. Moreover, who wants to spend Saturday afternoons on home improvements, hanging wallpaper on 20+ foot ceilings? It’s no surprise that oversized framed art and large canvas artwork are the number one selling categories for Gallery Direct. We’ve made our entire line customizable, which means every image can be reproduced huge. It seems oversized artwork has replaced wallpaper, beautifying walls everywhere. Homeowners know, in the end, it's not about the process of a job well-done, but the end result of a room well-designed, and this is an addendum to The New Rules of Remodeling.
Home Theaters. Beautiful Wine Closets. Tuscan-influenced landscapes. Professional Kitchens. Resort Quality Bedding. Professional-looking, fully stocked in-home bars. What does this all mean? People are venturing out less and staying at home more. Duh. The problem with staying home is it invites us to face our own mortality. You're growing up, you’re getting old, and you’re becoming sedentary. Think hard. Where are your best memories; where did they take place? Are they inside the walls of your home? I'd venture a guess, "No." We've wondered why a contemporary online art gallery should be swamped with orders upon orders for vintage art, particularly vintage advertisements and travel posters. People are getting more nostalgic, but why? For the exact items depicted in the vintage advertisements they are purchasing, obscure liqueurs they'll never taste, or places they may never have visited? It seems that people are not trying to recreate exact copies of their experiences. We've asked two hundred or so folks, and that's not the case at all. People are taking chances in their artwork choices for the home with vintage images. A cigarette advertisement, when they don't smoke. A travel poster for a country that doesn't exist anymore. The collector is creating a feeling, not a look. Good interior designers know: all "looks" are copies and all "feelings" are evocative. I remember a friend from college. He was a jetsetter. At his lake house, his father had the master bedroom made into an exact copy of his favorite hotel room at the Ritz in Paris. It was GARISH. In this exact copy, it lost its soul. It evoked nothing. He went for the copy and not for the feeling. Mistake #1. Always go for the feeling. Evocate a place, a memory, a time. The beauty of vintage art is it looks like it's from somewhere else, not your home. It brings "somewhere else" in your home. The artwork takes you out of the house, using your imagination. This type of imagination is akin to reading a book (active) as opposed to watching television (passive). When your imagination is active, you don’t have time to think about your own mortality. People are creating an individual expression which mirrors the outside world, but is the expression of a unique personal consciousness and a desire to be somewhere else besides home. I think that's why this category took off as soon as we launched it. The recession is helping too, for the price of a night out you can buy a couple of beautiful vintage prints on paper or canvas, which will last a couple of lifetimes. Nice.

Your Photo On Canvas: Narcissism Unfettered

Tweet One of the most popular offerings at Gallery Direct is our photo upload service: Turn Yourself into a Work of Art.™ As a standard operating procedure, we have to verify each and every file that is uploaded. This is … Read More

One of the most popular offerings at Gallery Direct is our photo upload service: Turn Yourself into a Work of Art.

As a standard operating procedure, we have to verify each and every file that is uploaded. This is necessary to make certain the file size is large enough to reproduce the image to the desired size specified by the user. Occasionally, the file size is really small; therefore, we are unable to reproduce it. Other times, we receive copyrighted material, (naughty, naughty), and we then have to contact the customer to say we cannot create the artwork from protected material. Most times, the uploaded files are the users own photographs. We receive these as large files--around 2MB to 20MB--and the user specifies the picture to be recreated as oversized canvas artwork.

As you might imagine, holidays and seasons influence the pictures we receive. Halloween brings many requests for ghoulish artwork, and this Mother's Day season, we're noticing many poignant pix of mom. It’s nice to see so many thoughtful folks out there.

After reviewing thousands of orders for your photos on canvas, we've noticed most of the images look like pictures you might see on someone's facebook page. Gallery Direct recreates artwork from pictures of people with their pets, people kicking it at parties, on vacation, at little league games. You name it, we've recreated it. It's sort of difficult to describe, but internally, we call it a "facebooky" quality. Think about the culture. Facebook is where users post photos of themselves, creating an idealized vision of their lives--their universe, if you will--online.

Social media is changing the way people think about artwork. It's a grassroots style trend, this type of truculent-narcissistic-hyper-reality, influenced by social media and reality television. If everyday people become stars, why shouldn't everyday people become works of art?

Another source shaping the trend of your photo on canvas or as framed artwork is Reality TV, which makes celebrities of everyday people. This coupled with individual-first mantras fueled by Facebook, Twitter, iPhones, and YouTube is creating a new genre of art. Moreover, consciousness-shaping icons such as Oprah Winfrey herald the concept that the greatest sin is to go unnoticed. This is translating into a home fashion trend.

The demographic recreating artwork from personal photos seems to be split 50% women to 50% men. Moreover, based on the subject matter (i.e. what's on the photos), we're looking at a broad mid-twenties to late forties demographic.

One recent image to grace our facility was this beautiful girl wearing gossamer wings. She recreated herself as a 50x50 image. A week after the delivery, we called her to ask her what she thought of her new piece and where it was hanging, etc. The young voice exclaimed "It's hanging in my apartment. I love looking at it! I love it! Thank you!"

Why not have an idealized image of yourself hanging on your walls to coincide with the idealized way you present yourself to the world via facebook? Social media is changing the way people think about artwork. It's a grassroots style trend, this type of truculent-narcissistic-hyper-reality, influenced by social media and reality television. If everyday people become stars, why shouldn’t everyday people become works of art? It makes perfect sense, and the trend is turning out some really great artwork!

Footnote:

Oversized canvas is our number one category for your photos on canvas. I think it's because people shop around online, we have the best quality and price + the $9.99 flat rate shipping encourages very large pieces. If you are going to take the narcissistic plunge, you might consider reproducing your photos as framed art on paper and even mirror, which is something the other providers cannot boast.

Think about it. When you visit someone's place for the first time, what's the first thing you look for? What's on their walls, of course. It's human nature. Maybe there are family pictures, heirlooms, hand-me-down art or even whack trends of yesteryear. Nagel anyone? Actually I think Nagel's making a comeback. Who knows why we really do this; but it seems you can decipher a little about the person by the items on their walls. Art also has the ability to beautifully distract. The first time I saw an oversized canvas print, filling up an entire wall was at an old girlfriend's apartment; I was like, "Whoa." This was a small place and the print demanded you look at it, kept your eyes focused up and not down at the clutter. When someone asks me, "What is a focal point of a room? How is one created and what does it do?" I tell them the story of this girl's basement apartment. The oversized canvas art was a tweaked-out photo of Brigitte Bardot, presented as a giclee on canvas. It was fun to gaze at and kept my eyes off the floor: the laundry basket (maybe dirty, maybe clean?), stacks of books and magazines and empty cigar boxes with loads of costume jewelry and a rug that maybe was just a really big towel? Why look at the nasty bits, when you can look at the WOW. Oversized artwork is so much fun to look at. Because not everyone has a high-rise urban view with finer architectural elements to enhance the outside such as floor-to-ceiling windows. So if your room needs a little help, go BIG ART!