RedBubble Quality Review

RedBubble began as an Australian version of Cafepress, who early on realized that they wanted to cater more towards artists and designers than the competition did. That focus remains today, though they’ve expanded their scope to serve an international audience.


Uploading your work is an easy process. RedBubble gives you an PNG template to download, which shows the entire printing area of the shirt. All you have to do is place your artwork inside that box at the size and location you’d like it to print.

I sent two files for printing at RedBubble, one solid-colored illustration of a dinosaur skull and one full color photograph of leaves. Here’s what those files looked like on RedBubble’s site when ordering:

They were both ordered on Monday night, and in my mailbox the following Saturday:

They use compact, branded bags, but the coolest part is the message you see when you open it:

The decorated type spells out this quote:

Some people see things as they are and say “why?” I like to dream of things that never were and say “why not?”

Definitely a sentiment that resonates with people who make art, so it adds to the fun of opening your package.

Here’s what arrived:

As you can see, RedBubble tees have the original apparel tags intact, but an over-sized RedBubble tag clothes-pinned to it. It’s a nice hand-crafted touch, and I like that they haven’t removed and replaced the original tags.

RedBubble did a solid job on printing the dinosaur illustration- I love the large print size. It’s a little lower than I’d have preferred, but otherwise well placed. One interesting thing about this print is that RedBubble seems to only use a white underbase on their light ink colors- my black ink appears to be printed directly on the shirt without that extra layer. It’s a good way to avoid having a white outline around the artwork, though I’m curious to see how well it will hold up to repeated washings.

Since RedBubble bills itself as a site for artists and sells photography prints, I was surprised at how poorly this photo collage printed. Compared to the original artwork (seen in the upper left corner) the image is dark and desaturated, barely resembling leaves at all.

I felt this was far removed enough from the sent file and requested a reprint. RedBubble has a help system where you post a complaint in a private forum-like setting, and then their service team directly responds to your issue. I had a response within hours, and though the employee stated that in all cases, colors will print darker than they appear online (hopefully not to the degree mine did!), they would be more than happy to try it again and send a new copy. Here’s what I received:

Unfortunately, it’s even darker and muddier than the first version. It’s important to note that while the shirt is flawed, RedBubble’s help team is definitely not- I was told before I even received the tee that they’d be happy to refund the cost if I was unhappy with the replacement. Excellent service!

SUMMARY
RedBubble has a great community and does a quick and good quality print on illustrative designs. That said, their photographic printing abilities are substantially weaker, so use caution… but know that there’s a safety net of some great customer service available if it doesn’t work out.

Shirt options:
American Apparel short sleeve (21 color options) starting at $19.95
American Apparel long sleeve (8 color options) starting at $21.85
American Apparel V-Neck (8 color options) starting at $19.95

Other product options:
Greeting cards, matted prints, laminated prints, mounted prints, canvas prints, framed prints, posters, and calendars.

Customization:
“BubbleSites” are free and create a gallery-like storefront for individual artists. Example: http://rubyred.redbubble.com

Community:
RedBubble is home to a very active group of users, who organize themselves into Groups in order to help each other promote work and to compete in Challenges. Users can also Watch each other, Favorite work, and leave comments.

More RedBubble images
Thanks to Olechka for these photos! (Click any photo for a larger view)

Previously

Learn Something Every Day tackles DTG tees
Learn Something Every Day tackles DTG tees

Learn Something Every Day is a project from Young, a UK design studio. Each day they post a new and