344 Design

Skateboards for — customizable sizes

After creating the golden 344 Skateboard for AIGA/LA I kept thinking that I should do more of that sort of thing. When Zazzle made it possible to offer print-on-demand skateboards I leapt at the chance, and created some choice Daily Monsters especially for the task.

In fact, I’ve made a number of Daily Monster drawings available as Zazzle products. Creating your own products is always such a lure, but it’s always problematic. Do you make everything by hand to maintain total control, even if the resulting items look handmade? Or do you plow a lot of money into producing a real edition? And if so, can you afford to pay for a standard of quality that makes you proud?

Either way, your biggest problem will be distribution. For myself, I love creating, I like making, I’m OK promoting, but I have no desire to become my own shipping clerk. I tried it for a while, and it’s no fun. Orders pile up easier than you think, and then you have another reason to feel guilty. On top of all that you have to make sure you’re set up to collect sales tax, which requires a surprising amount of paperwork to set up and maintain.

And let’s not forget payment channels. These days it’s perfectly acceptable to get paid through PayPal or Square. When I first set up I had to arrange for online credit card processing with my bank and my ISP, and that’s a whole other level of fun.

Zazzle presented itself as a good middle way. I can’t exert as much quality control as if I produced the items myself, but everything I’ve seen them make is pretty damn impressive. In exchange, I can offer dozens of different Monsters on dozens of different items. All at a reasonable price. With time as my only investment. And without the need to maintain any inventory, or get into a daily shipping habit. It’s pretty great!

Over the years I’ve had a number of students ask me how they can break into designing for fashion, or how to get exposure for their illustrations. Should they get a loan to produce things? Where should they look for internships? I always tell them to start by creating some products with a print-on-demand service, just to start playing around with the medium, and to see how people react to their work. Why not? It’s too easy to pass up the opportunity. It might become a great creative outlet, it might be a short-lived experiment. If nothing else, it’s an easy way to make some prototypes for your portfolio.

And if you feel like you’re running out of steam, have some coffee from a Daily Monster mug, or take your Daily Monster deck out for a spin. You can pick one up at my Zazzle Shop.


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