By Marcella Hayes Muhammad / Visual Artist-Designer
2017 I received an unusual invitation from a company that saw my artwork online. They invite artists to use their original designs and place these designs onto a variety of garments and home decor items. It is a Print on Demand Company. The variety of products are modern tops, 100% Modal scarves, and sleeveless tops, tote bags, T-shirts, leggings, pillows, coffee mugs and more. I already knew about T-shirts, but the rest was new to me. After researching more about Print on Demand, I discovered that I could do this!
Up until now, I was focused on gallery and Museum exhibitions to sell my Original artwork. It seemed to be the only outlet for visual artists. Doing the art circuit of fairs and outdoor exhibits was just too taxing. Paying crazy money for a space. Setting up and breaking down, sitting for hours in all kinds of weather or malls for days to man my venue and too often, not making my money back in sales was just too much.
So this Print on Demand was something new to me. I discovered that I already had the ability to edit my art and designs into digital format to fit the required parameters for reproduction onto each of these products with ease. How did this happen? I always tell my children that things happen for a reason and embrace the growth. This is a prime example.
In 2005 my sister, Dianne Quarles, and I went to New York to meet with representatives from Burlington Mills (the largest towel, bedding, and fabric by the bolt company) to discuss original designs for fabric. We made our presentation and were very encouraged by the representatives that were very interested in investing in our colorful designs. This could mean big success for Maruva DQ, Inc. But the economy was taking a drastic turn and after a few months, we were informed that Burlington Mills was to be purchased by another entity. New personnel were put into place, and the company moved to Brazil. That was the end of that opportunity. Then the bottom dropped out of the industry and licensing to individual artists was not lucrative enough for large manufacturing companies, in particular the African American niche market. My designs were focused on bright colors and the positive African Adinkra featuring love, unity, strength, and spirituality. Only the large corporations like Disney and Hollywood were being licensed with a focus on well established characters .
I say all that because, in getting prepared for Burlington and with the help of my sister, I had learned how to interpret my original designs into fabric prints for wearable art. I had many designs categorized, digitally formatted and ready to present. Today, there are several Print on Demand companies (and growing) that reach out to visual artists for their designs. The artist places their design onto provided templates. There is a base price already set for each product and the artist can sets their price. Artist either get 10 % of sales or their markup. The company will print the item, prepare it for shipping, ship to the customer and send the money directly to the artists PayPal account. It won’t bring in thousands of dollars but I don’t have to sew, warehouse merchandise or manage shipping. It is, however, up to the artist to market and boost sales on their collections. Now my customers are able to enjoy my unique, original and colorful designs at affordable prices under the name of MaruvaWare.
So go to the link above, sign up, enjoy and shop my collection for your holiday gifts. Tell your friends and family about these products and do what we do best… start that grapevine buzzing!