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Why I Can't Delete My Art Off of TeeSpring, but I Wish I Could

I wanted to love TeeSpring, I really did. The art placement dashboard was easy to use and the products described seemed really high quality. They are also one of the few Print-on-Demand sites that offer two-factor authentication, which made me very happy. So I loaded up some art and got started.

Within two weeks, I knew this was not going to work out. Here's why.

1. Use our amazing marketing tools - after you prove you don't need our amazing marketing tools.

You can't use their marketing tools, or be visible in their marketplace, until you prove you don't need their marketing tools or their marketplace. You have to drive your own sales for some unspecified number before your "Trust Score" is high enough to even appear in the site's search results. Also, they want you to "optimize your listings for search" but you can't use tags. ??? Wait, what now?

Like a lot of Print-on-Demand sites (TeeFury, Threadless etc.), TeeSpring lets you have an Artist Storefront, but doesn't immediately place your products in their main marketplace. Some of that is to create a deliberate bottleneck so that artwork gets a chance to be reviewed. I get it. It's annoying, but I get it. Having no checks in place would make it easy for me to scrape a bunch of art off of DeviantArt, Twitter  or just Google Image Search, load it on to products and just hit go. A review process is becoming more and more common.

The difference is transparency. Other sites give you tools like artist voting opportunities etc., to get your art through the initial approval process. They're very clear about what they're looking for and give a lot of specific help on finding success. TeeSpring's approach is much more opaque. In fact after several sales, my products and my store were still not appearing in search. Christmas is coming and I can't afford to be invisible, even after jumping through their hoops.

2. My t-shirts came out awful - when they came at all. 
While stickers and coffee mugs seemed to come out ok, the t-shirts were a mess for customers. One customer got completely the wrong shirt. Another, the print quality is horrible compared to the same shirt he had gotten off of TeePublic. Images weren't centered (though they were centered on the dashboard.) The images were the size (and color) of a 20 year old playing card. This was the same 10,000px-8,000px 300dpi image that turns out gorgeous throw blankets and scarves on RedBubble and TeePublic. The other two customers got t-shirts that were ok art-wise, but the shirts themselves seemed to be discolored/dirty.
Customer picture of artwork on 55"x55" scarf from RedBubble

How artwork looked on the TeeSpring t-shirt dashboard.


How the t-shirt from TeeSpring actually turned out. What the ??
That led me to immediately try to take down my listings so I wouldn't have any more disappointed customers. Which leads me to number 3 ...

3. You can't ever delete your art.

I can't delete my art from the site:   What the actual fuck? Granted, I should have gone through the terms with a fine tooth comb, but I didn't. This should send up alarm bells for any artist. This is not ok for a Print-on-Demand business (or really any business.)

4. Over 200 customer complaints on the Better Business Bureau. I really should have done my due diligence and looked here first. That's on me. Complaints about all of the things I described above, plus dodgy billing practices, people not getting paid their margins etc.  

Conclusion: I've archived and delisted my artwork, but I'm keeping the account so I can at least have some recourse in the future. At this point, I'd recommend avoiding this site until they can make some serious changes to their business model.


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