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bahgoesthesheep

RedBubble [Review]

by Andy on January 20, 2009

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A few months ago I was contacted by Print-On-Demand/Store-front/Design Community site RedBubble to check out their service, unfortunately with me going to France it took me a while to actually make an order, and then there was a backlog of other reviews to do, and then the Christmas break, and then I left my homework on the school bus… which my dog then ate.

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RedBubble have got a lot of great artists using their services, so you can find a lot of great tees and pieces of art (they do prints) just by using the browse function, or by looking at the best selling products for that week/month/all time, in fact one of the reasons why it took me so long to make an order was because I was struggling to pick which artists I should treat myself to (I don’t usually pick out the samples that come to HYAHQ). When I eventually did make my choices, Danger! by J3concepts, and Brain Tumor by bahgoesthesheep (to really test out their printing technique), I managed to make an error in my order.

With the Brain Tumor tee instead of being set to mens t-shirts by default as most of the other tees I looked at were, the artist had set women’s t-shirt options to be the default and I managed to miss it all the way through the ordering process. Is this a failing on my part, or do they really need to make the default options changeable by artists? Personally I don’t think it’s particularly necessary, but that’s probably because I don’t want to feel stupid. Mere minutes after I’d made the order and noticed the error I fired an e-mail off to customer support about it, but by the time they replied a few hours later my order was already being processed, which I guess shows how quickly they want to get orders out and remove the stigma that it can take a long time for an order to hit your door when you buy from a print-on-demand company. The customer service rep, Rhana, was absolutely excellent, and said that I should just give the girls tee to a friend and they’d send out the mens version to me free of charge. That kind of service is pretty incredible, and I feel it’s important to point out that there was no way Rhana could know that I was going to be reviewing their service as I didn’t disclose that until after the issue was resolved, and I used my Gmail e-mail address rather than my HYA one to ensure I was treated the same as someone who doesn’t review t-shirts. Oh, and I didn’t make the error on purpose so that I could test customer service, though it did work out rather well in terms of creating a more complete review, didn’t it?

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Of course, when it comes to print-on-demand, the issue that most people are worried about is the quality of the product. Yes, it’s nice that you can upload a design and buy it (and other people can too), or support other artists that are using the platfrom, but if the tees suck then you might as well not bother. Happily, the tees do not suck, I don’t think you’d be able to guess that they came from a POD company, and they really show off the merits of direct-to-garment printing. I’ll let RedBubble explain the DTG process.

Direct to garment printing is a style of printing where designs are printed directly onto the t-shirts. The direct to garment printer is an industrial version of traditonal ink jet printing technology (think of the ink jet printer you have at home). This allows a wide range of colours to be laid down very quickly. One of the things we really like about this printing technology is that the t-shirts retain their soft feel – they don’t have that plastic feel that some printing processes can leave.

The t-shirts themselves are from AA stock, which is so ubiquitous in the industry that it’s getting pretty silly me even telling you about them. Basically, they’re good shirts and you don’t have to worry about kids in Asia being chained to sewing machines to make them since they’re produced in downtown LA, the only thing you really need to worry about is the guy in charge of AA being a bit creepy, but we can hardly blame RedBubble for that.

Each tee comes with a fabric tag (held on by a cute little clothes peg) with the name of the product and artist stuck on it, which again helps to personalise a service which I think some people build up as being very much unpersonal.

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This experience with RedBubble has left me impressed, I’d happily use them again, and at ~£15 for a t-shirt they’re not too bad cost-wise either, though obviously the eventual price is dependent upon what the artist wants to earn from each sale.

Lots more images can be found in the gallery.

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