EPSON Helps Loftipop Grow from Etsy to Amazon

In 2013, Rachael O’Neill and her husband, Ryan, started their Sarasota, Fla., based company Loftipop as an Etsy shop. Today, they conceive, design and print their décor products in a 2,500 sq. ft. warehouse to ship across the country and through Amazon.

“I looked at Etsy and I saw people selling art prints and thought it was cool,” O’Neill says. “I told Ryan we could do it. We both brainstorm ideas and then he runs with them and designs.”

O’Neill did her homework before deciding which printer to choose for the art prints. “When we were researching, we noticed that Epson was the top of the line. Now, we love using their printers for our art prints,” she says. “I don’t think we’d ever switch to anything else. When our StylusPro 7890 finally died, we stayed with Epson and bought a SureColor P6000.”

A printer is often the first big purchase for a small business, and O’Neill feels that Epson has played a part in the success and growth of Loftipop. “The printer helped us launch our business and to this day the art prints are still a big part of our business, and they always will be, even though we’re doing other things,” she says. “We’ve always had great results and no major issues with them.”

The right printer needs the right media to create the perfect art print, so O’Neill uses LexJet Premium Archival Matte for its longevity. It is an acid-free paper and achieves 200-year archivability when partnered with the Epson inks.

In the beginning, O’Neill thought Loftipop would be a fun side project and never expected it to blossom into a full-time business. “We just opened a shop and put a couple of designs up. They started selling and it went from there,” she says. “We thought it would be cool to have a little side business, but we didn’t imagine where it’d go.”

Once they were comfortable with aqueous printing, they brought in a dye-sublimation printer so they could offer home décor and coffee mugs. O’Neill says it works great having both aqueous and dye-sub printers because they have been able to grow their product offering.

“The art prints launched our business,” she says. “We started doing the prints then expanded to other products, everyone has wall art and drinks out of a coffee mug.”

Growing from an Etsy shop to an e-commerce company didn’t happen overnight and it wasn’t easy, but O’Neill says that they are grateful that they could grow it into what it is today and look forward to continued growth. “We did it in a very safe way. We didn’t quit our jobs to start it,” she says. “We still worked full time for a good three years. We worked on it after our regular jobs and on the weekends.”

Right now, it’s just her and Ryan and a third employee. She says it can get a little hectic during the holidays, but they make it work. “There is work that you have to put into growing a business,” O’Neill says. “But for us, we really enjoy, it’s fun for us.”

In November, they will celebrate their 7th anniversary and are adding new designs and offerings all the time, but it’s the prints that started it all. The right designs, the right printer, the right paper all create the products people want and have taken Loftipop from a small Etsy shop to an Amazon Prime reseller.  O’Neill is excited to see what they’ve built. “Now, we’re happy, we love what we do, and we love working for ourselves.”

Prints That Win: Winter Pastel and Dressed to Impress

For Dorr, Mich. photographer – and recent double Sunset Print Award winner –  Kari Douma, photography has always been a part of her life. From darkroom classes in middle school and yearbook photographer in high school to recently completing the judging class to become an affiliated juror, photography is no longer just a part of her life, it’s intertwined in everything she does.

She initially started taking pictures to capture her children in special moments, but soon, family and friends were asking her to photograph them. “Eventually, I had to do a mental check. I wondered if I could really do this and make it a business, or continue as a hobby, where I might eventually have to turn people down,” Douma says of her decision to go pro. “I decided to go the business route and joined professional organizations so that I could learn more about the business.”

The first professional association Douma joined was Professional Photographers of West Michigan. It was the members of that local group who encouraged Douma to start competing. Before jumping straight in, she observed. “The first competition I attended, I just watched and hung on every word spoken. I had a notebook and wrote down everything the judges were saying. Every critique, every compliment. It’s all feedback.”

The notes and observing paid off. As a first-time competitor, she scored somewhere around 77-79, which is considered “above average.” As her experience and talent has grown, so have her scores. Competitions, by definition, are tough, but one of the biggest lessons that Douma has learned is that a score is simply the opinion of five judges on any given day. “It’s fun to create an image and match up to the Twelve Elements of Merit, but you can’t get caught up thinking about what five people are going to think about it.” She realizes the judges are there to help, “they are giving you feedback – good and bad – because they are there to help you grow as a photographer.” For Douma, the PPA – Northeast competition was successful, with wins in Landscape with “Winter Pastel” (pictured above) and Portrait with “Dressed to Impress” (pictured below).

In “Winter Pastel,” Douma was able to capture the beautiful pink sky, just as the sun was rising over an early-season Michigan snowfall. For the print competition, she used LexJet Premium Archival Matte with a torn edge and a traditional mat, which helped extend the texture of the clouds and snow beyond the edges of the image.

Douma’s second winning image, “Dressed to Impress,” was a photo that happened because of her husband’s morning trip to a local McDonald’s. While waiting in line, her husband spotted this gentleman saunter into the restaurant dressed to the nines: fire-engine red 3-piece suit, wing-tipped shoes, hat, pocket square, the works. She said, “he just walked right up to the man and said ‘my wife would love to photograph you.’ So, we set up a session, and the rest is history.”

When it was time to print “Dressed” for competition, Douma chose LexJet Sunset Photo eSatin Paper 300g to add an authentic photographic feel to the black and white image.

For Douma, what started off as a hobby to take beautiful images of her children has led to an opportunity to provide feedback and guidance, enabling photographers to grow. One day, there will be a photographer observing her first competition, and with notebook in hand, she will be hanging on every word Kari Douma says.

Getting the Most from Your Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-4000

Did you know that when you purchase a new Canon PRO-Series printer, you get a full 330 mL ink set? While some brands include a small starter set of inks at time of purchase, Canon includes full-sized cartridges. This means you can print and sell more graphics before purchasing more ink, increasing your return on investment.

LexJet is now giving you another way to increase the profitability of your printer. For the remainder of June, when you purchase a Canon PRO-4000, choose a roll of TRIBUTE Satin Photo Paper 240g or Premium Archival Matte (up to 42-inch). TRIBUTE Satin Photo Paper is an instant-dry photo-realistic paper for high-volume print reproductions like posters, displays, and portraits. Premium Archival Matte offers a smooth, matte finish that is perfect for high-quality fine art prints.

With a new printer, full set of inks, and a full roll of media, the Canon PRO-4000 will be a profitable addition to your business. If you would like more information on how to improve your printer ROI, contact a LexJet printer specialist at 800-453-9538 today.

New Lower Price for Premium Archival Matte

LexJet Premium Archival Matte has long been a favorite among artists and photographers producing everything from exhibition prints to fine art reproductions to high-end framed photos.

And now, we’re announcing a lower price point on the only true archival matte paper in its class. If you’re looking for a matte paper that, unlike other leading brands, won’t yellow and is acid-free and ph-neutral, choose LexJet’s best-selling Premium Archival Matte. It’s the same great product we’ve produced for years, now at a lower price.

We’re so sure you’ll love printing, laminating and displaying it that we’ll give you the same 30-day money-back guarantee that we offer on all of our products.

Call your LexJet specialist at 800-453-9538 to learn more about new pricing for LexJet Premium Archival Matte paper.

Avast Ye Swabs! The Art of Piracy at the Tampa Bay History Center

Forty Thieves by Don Maitz

The Tampa Bay History Center is featuring the original work of fine artist Don Maitz as part of its exhibition, The Art of Piracy: Pirates in Modern Culture. The exhibition began on Jan. 24 and runs through April 26.

No Prey No Pay by Don MaitzMaitz is famed for creating the original artwork for Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum when the adult beverage was first brought to market to be properly swilled.

The exhibit examines the role of art in shaping the popular and iconic images associated with 17th and 18th century pirates in and around the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic seaboard.

Originally from Connecticut, and now based in Sarasota, Fla., Maitz’s interest in pirates and sea rovers goes back well before he moved to the Buccaneer coast. The move simply made his pursuits in pirate art even more appropriate.

Hidden Cove by Don Maitz“A lot of artists and illustrators had moved west and were doing western art. Since I moved to Florida I didn’t think that subject matter really fit. Illustrating what was going on in our coastal waters and treasure hunting, I thought pirates would be interesting subject matter for me to continue. Plus, some of my favorite artists have worked in that genre,” says Maitz.

For this exhibition, Maitz printed some of his most notable pirate art to date using his Epson Stylus Pro 7800 on Sunset Hot Press Rag, LexJet Premium Archival Matte and Hahnemuhle Photo Rag 308 g.

Don Maitz
Don Maitz

Maitz sends his artwork – typically oil paintings and watercolors, though he works in a variety of media, including acrylics – to Eagle Photographics in Tampa to capture his work.

“I get a digital file and go through ImagePrint software to balance the print to the original art. I use Photoshop to manipulate the color and the ImagePrint software to change the image based on the surface of the paper I’m printing to,” he says. I want to use the highest quality paper possible. I like Sunset Hot Press Rag because it has a little less tooth so it doesn’t collect things like dust and oil from your hands. I use Premium Archival Matte for more cost-effective smaller prints.”

Maitz cuts the prints by hand, rather than using the automated cutter inside the printer. He says it’s best to keep the dust produced by cutting as far away from the printer as possible; a clean printer alleviates potential headaches from clogged nozzles and cuts down on maintenance routines.

Maitz has worked with LexJet as print supplier partner since he bought his printer. “What I really like about LexJet is that I place an order and it gets here quickly; that’s a real plus. Also, when I first bought my printer from LexJet, my learning curve was dropped considerably by help from my rep and technical support,” adds Maitz.

Canvas Printing without the Canvas

Sunset Photo Canvas Paper
Fine-art painting by Virginia Phillips (virginiaphillips.com) reproduced by Sharpeye Framing Company on Sunset Photo Canvas Paper 230g.

Print shops, fine-art reproduction companies, photographers and other print providers can now offer their customers canvas prints without the canvas: Sunset Photo Canvas Paper 230g from LexJet.

The new photo paper is LexJet’s popular Premium Archival Matte Paper embossed with a canvas texture, complete with all the benefits of Premium Archival Matte: an instant-dry coating for smudge-free printing and handling; a large color gamut for high-contrast, high-resolution printing; and an acid-free, pH-neutral thick and heavy base for trouble-free printing, mounting and framing.

“This paper saves us a lot of time, cost and labor because it’s basically a two-step process: it comes off the printer, we mount it and it’s done. It gives a canvas look, texture and feel at a lower price point than canvas, and the image quality is great,” says Ryan Wanke, president of Sharpeye Framing Company in Michigan City, Ind.

Sunset Photo Canvas Paper 230g is not an alternative for canvas gallery and museum wraps. Rather, it is an alternative for mounted and framed canvas prints since canvas can be difficult to mount to a board due to its weight and physical properties.

The embossed texture of Sunset Photo Canvas Paper 230g is similar to the 2-over-1 weave of LexJet’s award-winning Sunset Select Matte Canvas, providing a smoother and more consistent canvas texture on a matte finish.

“People love canvas, which is why canvas printing is such a growing market with a lot of opportunity for our customers,” says Jaimie Mask, LexJet’s product manager. “The biggest seller is and will likely always be canvas gallery wraps. However, there is a robust market for mounted and framed canvas prints, and Sunset Photo Canvas Paper makes it easier and more cost-effective to serve this niche.”

Sunset Photo Canvas Paper is now available in 17″, 24″, 36″, 44″ and 50″ widths and 100′ roll lengths from LexJet’s Nationwide Delivery Network. As with all LexJet-branded products, Sunset Photo Canvas Paper comes complete with a 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee and free and unlimited phone support from LexJet’s team of printing experts. To find out more, contact one of those experts at 800-453-9538.