Color Ranges and Sales Spikes

This week I uploaded a new designer’s tool to Spoonflower. I’ve been wanting to create a deck of color cards similar to Color Aid Paper but with a broader range of colors (750 vs. the 314 in Color Aid’s Full Set). It would be a collection that I could print at Spoonflower and that would take the guesswork out of color selection and the disparity between screen color and IRL color. Something that could be shuffled, dealt, grouped, matched, auditioned, and coordinated to create a bunch of different, yummy, go-to color palettes.

In the process of designing the cards, though, I had to contend with the “gamut” issue: what parts of the color family were reproducible in ink and what were not. As I systematically carved away all of the unusable colors, like greys and uber darks that look the same no matter what color family they’re in, I was alarmed by how much of some color families fell into the “out of gamut” range. The cool side of the color wheel in particular (green, blue, purple) seems to shrink dramatically when you have to consider its printability.

left: All the beautiful yellows that the Adobe Color Picker has to offer in the Hue 48 zone. vs. right: Only the allegedly printable ones.
Gamut-240
left: All of the beautiful blues that Adobe’s Color Picker has to offer in the Hue 240 zone vs. right: Wait…where did all the beautiful blues go??

It made me curious. I tend to question restrictions and good advice, and like my husband and his buddy when they come across a “Road Closed” sign on their motorcycle adventures and say, “Let’s see how closed it is,” as they proceed past the sign into the verboten area, I thought, “Let’s see how ‘out of gamut’ these really are.” So, I took a detour from the color cards and made a color sampler instead, using thirty entire color families. Out-of-gamut colors and all. I designed it to fit on a swatch of Spoonflower’s Prepasted Removable Smooth Wallpaper to get the most intense color they can print. The order was placed on Wednesday, so we’ll get to see what we’re dealing with in a couple of weeks.

All the Gamut Color Family Sampler for Wallpaper

 

In other news: sales!

It’s the end-of-the-year financial report wrap-up, and I actually have something to report. The design that got into the Spoonflower Challenge Winner’s Circle in October — the Khokhloma Tea Towel — has sold 9 whole times! One was bought by Spoonflower for the complimentary towel that was included in the prize package. Most of the sales were during sales, but my commission stayed the same whether it was on sale or not. Bless all the folks who shop at Spoonflower!

Breakdown for the year:

  • 1st quarter: $1.30 for 1 Ambrosia Bites tea towel
  • 2nd quarter: $2.60 for 2 Ambrosia Bites tea towels
  • 3rd quarter: zippo
  • 4th quarter: $12.60 for 9 Khokhloma tea towels

Total: $16.50 – That’s four pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream!

With this happy turn of events, a question that had been rattling around in my head was answered. Does winning matter? I know it isn’t true for other designers, but in terms of sales, in my tiny corner of the design world, the answer is yes. Yes, it does. The only things that I’ve ever sold at Spoonflower were challenge entries that made it into the Top 10.

The challenge for the new year? To sell something that hasn’t run the gauntlet of the Spoonflower Design Challenge. And…go!