Black Mercury

Studio chatter

"The Uber of Art"?

Ever since we helped ("The Uber of Roadside Assistance") with branding and UX last Fall, it seems like the on-demand marketplace has continued to surge to new heights. Yes, the froth around on-demand certainly seems to be approaching bubble-like heights (Kosmo anyone?). While we've read all about how the economics are different now, it's hard not to think that some of this services are going to land uber-hard once the inevitable shakeout comes. 

We've also noticed that even things like artwork are getting wrapped in on-demand marketing language, even though these services aren't really on-demand, but artsy quick delivery print services. We were an early fan of Fracture, a service that allowed you to upload an image (usually a photo), which they would print, full-bleed and full-color, to a sheet of glass. In many respects it's not much different from a host of other custom photo print services out there, except for the unique and (we discovered during a late night beer-fueled studio redecorating session) fragile media. 

But recently it seems like some of these mail-order art services are taking it to the next level. For example, there's Whale, which bills itself as "Large Prints for Empty Walls". At first glance, it looks like just a printer that sells a handful of large format color posters with simple, rainbow-y designs. But looking further, you notice a link under each poster that says "Modify Design". Selecting this option brings up a palette of sorts, that allows you to customize some of the basic color and shape parameters of the design, while still maintaining the basic composition. While it's a bit limited, what we like about it is that you actually create the "art" using the site's simple interface, and essentially hit "BUY" once you like what you see. And then there's the relatively cheap price: $90 for a ginormous 47 x 67 inch print. That's a biggen. 

The "poster builder" UI. 

And then there's Mapiful  If you can get past the cuteawkward name, the product and service is pretty compelling. Essentially, it's a service for creating artfully presented, uncluttered, monochrome maps suitable for framing. Type in your location (pretty much anywhere in the world, it seems), and the web site's UI instantly presents you with a preview of how the map will look hanging from a wall, replete with soft drop shadow. Nice. Then you can customize the various map labels (Header, divider text, and tagline), or select one of several visual themes and poser sizes, while getting an instant interactive preview. What keeps the maps artful is that they're monochrome and they don't have any labels for street names, counties, or anything else, so they're really for entertainment purposes only. If you're wondering, they pull the data from the creative commons OpenStreetMaps database, which is typically very accurate. The big map, which measures roughly 20 x 27 inches, goes for $55 with free shipping. 

Mapiful map creation UI 

We're going to try Whale and Mapiful and see how they work out. If you've tried them, let us know what you think of them. 

Mercury MuseComment