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Unique Mother's Day Gift - No More Flowers and Chocolate
With Motherís Day approaching fast, itís time to begin thinking about how best to express how much Mommy Dearest means to us. If youíre like most, Motherís Day has become a routine that consists of a greeting card, a bouquet of flowers, and a phone call to say "I love you". And though mom surely loves the sentiment, perhaps 2005 should be a year when you put a bit more creativity into your gift idea.
How about giving the gift of art? Several businesses across the country create one-of-a-kind, stylish, and sentimental works of art from customersí photographs, often for a price less than what youíd pay for a mass-produced department store print.
Here are just a few examples:
The process couldnít be simpler. You place an order from the companyís website. Typically you can choose from various styles of artwork and even provide special instructions just as you would if you were buying expensive commissioned artwork. Then you send the company your photograph(s). You can upload or email a digital photo, or you can send printed photos by mail. Within a matter of days, a custom work of art will be created from your photograph. Some sites allow you to view a proof of your artwork online so you can request changes. Once you are satisfied, the artwork will be shipped to you.
Prices and quality vary, so be sure to compare once you know what you would like. Some of the companies below (ezPortrait and myDaVinci) offer artwork that is created completely by hand (typically by using low-cost yet qualified artists who live in other countries), while the others utilize primarily digital technology.
Although all of the companies below offer artwork done in an "oil painting" style, many offer far more variety. Check out the unique contemporary styles like "Modern Outline" and "Ghost" that Pictoart offers. Photowow offers a couple fun "Comic" options. These more abstract and whimsical styles provide an artistic alternative to the standard impressionistic oil painting and may look more at home in modern dťcors.
Some customers like to play a role in selecting colors and composition for the final artwork. All of the services below will be happy to take into account any special requests, so you can be sure the finished work of art will complement momís sofa fabric. In addition, with the exception of Canvas on Demand, all the services provide a digital proofing process that allows customers to preview the artwork and request changes before the final artwork is shipped.
Prices will depend on whether the art is created on paper or stretched canvas, which style is chosen, and how large the final work is. It seemed that all of the services reviewed use professional quality materials, including acid-free paper and archival-quality giclťe printing processes.
Be sure you fully understand the guarantee and return policy before placing an order. Being able to view a digital proof before your order is shipped provides quite a bit of peace of mind that what Mom gets will be something she loves. However, itís good to know that you can get a refund if you arenít completely satisfied once the art arrives at your door. While both Canvas on Demand and Pictoart provide full 30-day money back guarantees (minus S&H), myDaVinci will only provide store credit. Photowow states that it will provide a full refund if you return your item within 10 days of receipt, but another page on their site also indicates that the "design" portion of their fee is not refundable. Both ezPortrait and Photosyrup had unclear or nonexistent policies regarding customer options for refunds once the proof is approved and the product is shipped. If youíre worried, be sure to ask before placing an order.
Here is a summary of six popular services that create artwork from photos (listed in alphabetical order):
Canvas on Demand www.canvasondemand.com
This year, rather than sending mom a bouquet of flowers, how about sending her a beautiful painting of flowers from her garden! So round up a few great photos and give the gift of art. Not only will it make her wall look good, itíll make you look good too.
* For effective comparison, a baseline product was chosen that all six services offer: A 24"x36" unframed work of a single subject done in an "oil painting" style and created on stretched canvas. USPS Priority shipping (or equivalent) was chosen.
** Ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 = poor, 3 = fair, 5 = excellent.
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