Wall portraits remain the most visible and dramatic way to decorate a home with special memories. Metal, canvas, acrylic and paper are all popular printing materials for displaying photographic images. Professional photo labs typically offer these, along with fine art options like ecologically friendly rag or bamboo prints. There is also a burgeoning market printable media that goes beyond traditional wall display for photo décor.
Companies serving the home décor and gift markets are now capable of personalizing everything from ceramic plates to window dressings. Moreover, lamp shades, shower curtains and throw rugs are also popular photo personalized items. Here are a few of the popular new trends we found in photographic décor.
Photo Wall Art
Photo collages and wall clusters are all the rage in home decorating magazines. Flip through Country Living and Better Homes and Gardens and you’ll see comfy looking bedrooms and living rooms, their walls decorated in print collages, clusters of framed prints and mixed media displays.
While professionally printed canvas wraps and framed prints are beautiful, they can be prohibitively expensive for consumers who want to display a large number of prints on a limited budget. In response, a growing number of online labs are offering affordable wall art for consumers.
An Israeli company based in Tel Aviv, Mixtiles introduced its printing service two years ago. The company originally offered three 8×8-inch prints for $49, with additional prints at $9 each. However, it has since changed its pricing to $11 for each print, no minimum required. Consumers are encouraged to invest in multiple prints to create trendy photo collages. Moreover, its one-size-fits-all printing app is a huge success, with more than 4,000 five-star reviews.
David Katz, founder and CEO of Mixtiles, built his thriving business venture by selling prints mounted on lightweight, foam-board backing. The 8×8-inch size is small enough that it doesn’t require large image files to produce sharp images. Customers can choose from five traditional framing options: Bold is a black frame; Clean is a white frame; Classic is a black frame with a white mat; Ever is a white frame with a white mat; and Edge is no frame, with black or white edges. In addition, the prints come with adhesive tabs on the back; this enables customers to hang them without nails as well as repositioned them over and over again.
Mixtile’s Facebook page, which has almost a million followers, features hundreds of photo layout ideas—many submitted by their customers. JoAnn Smyth, a contributor at Medium.com wrote: “Mixtiles is like a real-life version of your Instagram feed. The tiles turn your photos into stylish squares that mount directly to your wall via a sticky mounting strip that leaves no damage behind!”
When customers are ready to replace their images with new prints, they can request a free shipping label and return them to the company for recycling.
Another company generating interest in the home printing market is Fracture. The Gainesville, Florida, company is 10 years old. Founded by University of Florida graduates Alex Theodore and Abhi Lokesh, the company started out as a partnership in 2009. It gradually built itself into a thriving business with approximately 40 employees. Images are printed directly on shatterproof glass and shipped to customers fully assembled and ready to hang.
While Fracture’s reviews are quite positive, the unique printing process requires well-lit images to stand out from behind the glass. The photo should strike “just the right balance between light and dark,” advises the company at fractureme.com. Fracture doesn’t edit or alter images before printing; however, it notes that its online preview displays images exactly the way they’ll look when printed on the glass.
Furthermore, Fracture offers a limited size selection, with small, medium and large prints for each of three printing formats: square, portrait and landscape. Prices range from $17 to $135. What’s more, prints are all made by hand in a carbon-neutral factory and delivered in environmentally friendly packaging.
Pro photographers and retailers can join the Fracture Pro Program to earn a 15% discount on print orders. For information, send an e-mail to email@example.com.
MetalPrints.com is an online printing company that specializes in one-of-a-kind wall displays for consumer and professional clients. The coastal California supplier provides metal prints on high-quality ChromaLuxe aluminum. It markets them as a durable, scratch-resistant and archival alternative to paper prints.
“While photo papers have fantastic image stability, Xenon light stability testing results show the image stability of metal prints is [two] to [four] times the image stability of traditional silver-based photo papers,” says the company. Moreover, because of their waterproof properties, metal prints can also be displayed outdoors. However, the company recommends its Performance EXT metal for images displayed in direct sunlight.
In addition, one of the benefits of MetalPrints.com is the variety of printing options it offers. Print sizes range from 4×5 to 48×96 inches. Clients can choose from the default surface, with a white base, which makes images look like conventional photographic prints. Or they can choose a clear metallic surface that allows the metal base to show through in white and light areas—creating a unique silvery look. Prints are available in 15 different shapes, including curved surfaces, as well as multiple framing options.
Previously known as AdoramaPix, Printique.com is a popular photo printing website run by the New York City-based photo lab, Adorama. Printique provides an intuitive ordering process. Called Wall Design Wizard, it’s specifically designed for customers to create their own wall collage layouts. The interactive program includes six different rooms: living room, dining room, bedroom, hallway, office and other (staircase). Further, each room has a realistic 3D rendering of furniture, potted plants and other common accent items. Users can also upload a picture of their own room to create a photo layout preview.
The Wall Design Wizard also allows customers to choose from 65 different wall colors and textures to recreate their own interiors as closely as possible. They can then browse the 100+ possible print arrangements, choosing a combination of print sizes from 8×8 to 40×60 inches. Once they pick a layout, they can upload their own images to see how they’ll look in that arrangement. Consumers can also preview other possible layouts.
The Printique blog, Insights from Printique, at printique.com/blog, features a treasure trove of tips for creating beautiful wall art. It offers articles on photographing texture, fall colors, National Parks as well as unique portrait ideas. Blog author Libby even compiled a list of 31 reasons clients should decorate their walls with photographs. She includes such logical arguments as “photos don’t belong sitting on your phone” and “because bare walls are so last year.”
Personalized Photo Décor for the Home
Decorative wall prints—whether small or large, framed or not—are inarguably the most popular display option for photographs. However, they are not the only way to express creativity in the home. Personalized photo products are increasingly popular and are of higher quality than ever before. Photo enthusiasts can order just about any decorative item they desire from their favorite photographs—many just beginning to emerge in the home printing market.
Located in King, North Carolina, Limitless Walls is a third-generation printing business that produces wallpaper and murals with made-to-order themed and personalized designs. The company is operated by two brothers, Shawn and Mike Speeney. They offer a selection of more than 12 million curated images, designs and textures for printing on four different substrates: standard adhesive-backed 14mil fabric; nonadhesive 13.4mil paper; nonadhesive 20-ounce vinyl; and premium 17mil adhesive-backed canvas.
Furthermore, the 40-year-old company makes its own printing substrates and adhesive. The adhesive is formulated to not damage walls or existing paint; consumers can remove murals and reapply them in different locations. The two most popular substrates for personalized murals are the lightly textured adhesive-backed fabric and the thicker adhesive-backed canvas. Murals range in size from 7.3×4.8 feet to 12×8 feet. Customers can also order a protective top coating for $2 per square foot.
The LimitlessWalls.com website blog, Creative Insights, features tips on how to incorporate murals into the home or office to achieve relaxing, dramatic or whimsical room designs. It also includes mural application and removal instructions. In addition, photographic recommendations to achieve optimum reproduction are also offered. For information, visit the website or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A personalized home textile and decorative goods company located in Pierre, South Dakota, VisionBedding.com was founded in 2005 by Justin Poile. The company offers hundreds of coordinated room decorations for bedrooms, living rooms and bathrooms. They comprise blankets, shower curtains, rugs, pillows, wall art and tapestries.
It also sells fabric backdrops for professional photographers to use in themed photo shoots. Backdrops range in size from 60×84 to 48×240 inches (for custom orders). The machine-washable fabric is printed on the front of the backdrop and white on the back, with pole loops sewn into it to hang on a stand.
Printed textiles for the home are VisionBedding’s core business. Customers can choose coordinated products from the company’s themed room designs or create products using their own images.
Materials vary depending on the product; for example, they can choose micro-fleece or micro-suede comforters with an optional white cotton bottom. The website also offers three templates for personalized photo products: a single photo printed over the entire product; a four-image grid; and a multicolor block collage. What’s more, photographers with image-editing capabilities can create their own template pattern and submit it as a single photo.
In addition, the VisionBedding blog offers a variety of creative decorating ideas—from zombie themes to shabby chic bedrooms. It also provides suggestions on how to dress up a small living space. Visit the website at visionbedding.com and select the Use My Photos themes to create personalized photo products.
Printing trends for photographic décor continue to evolve, spurred on by consumer demand. Today, one thing is for sure, there is no limit to the creative possibilities you can offer customers to display their precious memories.