Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Portfolios On Demand: The Desktop Advantage

It is now possible to look highly professional for a relatively modest investment by creating a portfolio using an on-demand book publishing site. High quality customizable fixed portfolios are available through a number of sources.
© 2013 Don Arday
Even though these services were developed primarily to support photographic professionals, they serve illustrators equally as well, after all a JPG or PDF file is still an image file, whether it was captured with a camera or created by an illustrator. It is important to note that in nearly every case, portfolios printed as books are unalterable, so if after ordering your portfolio book you want to add your latest illustration, it will require ordering a completely new updated book. Still these options of producing a professional portfolio should be thoughtfully considered. The list of resources provided below is by no means complete, and each vendor will best suit the needs of an illustrator in kind. Although there are many publishers out there, the ones below will allow you to print a single portfolio. Also these vendors were selected based on their affinity for professional portfolio publishing.

Disclaimer: This list is provided to serve as a resource for portfolio book providers. Each should be researched to match the user interface, price point, and elements you desire in an on-demand printed portfolio.


The difference with Lulu is you can, not only create a book, but you can also sell it. Lulu’s model in publishing is open publishing, which empowers creators to publish and sell content to readers. Through their open publishing platform, they help creators make works available in multiple formats and markets so audiences and buyers can more easily find relevant content. At Lulu, it’s free to publish, so authors can create everything from hard cover books to eBooks, portfolio books, etc. Artists and authors keep all the rights to their works and retain 80% of the profit when their books sell. Lulu can provide worldwide distribution so that books can reach an audience just about anywhere, including on Amazon.com and the iBookstore™. And Lulu can help with cover design, editing, formatting, marketing or the publishing process in general. You can even get an ISBN (International Standard Book Number), a controlled, 10 or 13 digit identification number that allows publishers, libraries, and book dealers to locate books. Lulu provides a cost calculator to provide an actual quote with the specific printing options you select.


Viovio is dedicated to providing a quality product and extraordinary service. Producing on-demand products of exceptional quality with record speed has always been in the forefront. By combining the quality of their portfolio books with a no-touch manufacturing process, Viovio is able to offer customers the superior portfolio books they demand. Additionally, Viovio has a large selection of book sizes, formats and material choices for the creation of your portfolio book. The PDF, and font handling instructions that are provided to assist you in preparing your book for printing are highly detailed and elaborate for those who want to know all specifications in detail. Their online book creation software allows you to work, on and save, your project 100% free of charge. You only pay when you're ready to buy your book. The Viovio bookmaking service is available on line and through a downloadable iPad app.


Mixbook is a user-friendly way to make  customizable portfolio books, cards, and other print items on the web. With Mixbook, you aren’t limited to static pre-designed templates. Powerfully designed software gives you the freedom to customize your own layout and design. Mixbook is dedicated to bringing you the best experience in creating image products. With Mixbook’s trademark slogan is Make It Yours™. Although they offer a number of predesigned, adorned picture book choices, their “Blank Canvas” or simple portfolio options are preferable for customization. The four format options each offer a limited range of a sizes and materials. You can preview each book style and size to get ideas about how to layout the pages.


Shutterfy’s single-minded focus on helping you enhance, organize and store your digital images allows them to provide the highest quality. They have been trusted choice of professional photographers and artist, and the proud recipient of many industry awards. Advantages include free online photo storage -- Shutterfly has never deleted an image. Free online photo sharing -- reviewers and friends can view images you want to share without having to log in or sign up. They just click on a link in your email and instantly view a slideshow of your work.  Shutterfly’s Express Uploader is a free, easy-to-use software application that quickly uploads your images straight from your desktop. You can also view and edit your pictures before uploading them. Several other book-on-demand vendors either outsource to Shutterfly or use Shutterfly’s engine for the service they offer. Pricing is up front, accessible, and competitive.


MyCanvas is an online photo book tool that provides a variety of backgrounds, font styles and layouts. Completely customize your portfolio book or choose easy to use templates..Book sizes include 8” x 8", 11” x 8.5", or 14” x 11". MyCanvas uses print-on-demand (POD) printing for the book you want. POD printing is just what it sounds like. Your book is not printed until you order it, which allows for changes while customizing a book. Add photos, layouts, and embellishments, edit text and change backgrounds. Choose your cover -- a photo of your choice printed in matte finish, nuba, leather, padded leather, silk spine, full silk, two-tone velvet, or nubuck leather. Choose from a variety of cover styles and premium options, like slip cases. Plus, add pages and ship as fast as you like. Some of the cover options include a slipcase to protect and preserve your book (leather, silk and silk spine). Create up to 250 pages printed in gloss on heavyweight, acid-free, archival paper. Their Premium photo books are individually handcrafted and made-to-order. Matching end sheets are included. Pricing is up front, accessible, and competitive.


Starting with the outside, Picaboo offers the freedom of placing any photo on the front cover, back cover, and spine of a Classic Custom book. Specialty books are available in 6” x 8” and 8.5” x 11” with glossy laminate hard cover or soft cover with premium glossy paper or in 11” x 14” with glossy laminate hard cover and premium glossy paper. Classic books available in multiple sizes and colors feature a linen hard cover or a textured soft cover, a center die-cut window and premium glossy paper. Choose from a variety of professionally designed themes to get started. You can completely customize a selected theme or you can choose to start your book with no theme. With Picaboo, you can redesign an existing layout, or create your own page design from scratch by dragging and dropping your photos and captions anywhere on the page. Picaboo provides the broadest range of high-quality portfolio book styles. Choose from the versatile Classic Die-Cut and Custom Cover collection to meticulously handcrafted leather flush mount book. Prices are listed up front along with styles.


Snapfish offers customized photo books showcasing your illustration talents, with nearly unlimited design options in 15 different book styles. Professionally designed templates allow you reproduce your work in a portfolio book. Snapfish provides you with a variety of sizes to choose from. A simple flip book, a 2” x 3” mini book, or an 8” x 11” photo books is a snap to create with over 55 photo and text layouts, or opt for a deluxe 12” x 12” book with large-scale images. You are in full control with the ability to use captions, titles, and page layouts throughout your portfolio book. Choose a soft cover or hard cover book style with leather, velvet, linen, dust jacket, and custom cover options. All photo books are professionally bound and printed on archival-quality, acid-free paper. Most importantly, every photo book is one-of-a-kind made exactly to your specifications. Pricing is up front and accessible.


From the paper to the printing, quality is at the heart of every AdoramaPix portfolio book. Premium books are hand crafted and inspected by experienced staff to ensure that your portfolio book will look stunning and last a lifetime. A unique binding system allows every page spread to lie flat without any gutter or unsightly seam to separate your pages. This system combines beautiful presentation with incredible durability. The AdoramaPix custom-built design tool makes it drag-and-drop easy for anyone to build beautiful, professional quality books. AdoramaPix 8” x 10” books are hard cover, and are printed on Fujifilm Crystal Archive Album photo paper, so they are not press printed, this makes them very different from all other press books. Pricing is upfront and accessible. Due to the use of photo paper and premium binding materials, pricing is a bit higher than other portfolio on demand publishers.


Blurb offers self-published portfolio books at bookstore quality to artists, designers and photographers. Select from easy-to-use cover layouts in Bookify or BookSmart, or make your own with the Adobe® InDesign® plugin. Choose from a wide selection of papers including an 80# Standard Paper smooth semi-matte finish, or premium heavier papers in matte and lustre finishes. ProLine professional-grade papers made by Mohawk are also an option. Blurb prints on industry-leading HP Indigo digital offset presses for superb image reproduction and color fidelity. For highly refined color control Blurb offers an extensive color management resource center and a GRACoL 2009 ICC color profile for precise printing. Blurb layouts offer creative flexibility to add photos and text. Create stunning two-page full-bleed spreads. Choose from a wide selection of layouts or customize your own hard cover books that feature library binding, while soft cover books have perfect binding that is bound to last. Pricing is clear, upfront, and competitive.

MyPublisher (Shutterfly)

MyPublisher was the inventor and first marketer of high quality, single-copy, custom portfolio books at an affordable price. MyPublisher has evolved as a leading internet retailer of personalized photo applications to enable consumers to creatively customize, share, print, and preserve digital images. Now joined with Shutterfly, MyPublisher offers a range of custom products and free proprietary design applications, including Photo Books, Photo Calendars, Cards and Canvas Prints. MyPublisher prints, manufactures and ships every product it sells with no out-sourcing. MyPublisher is among the largest digital photo printers in the world. Every year it prints and ships over 120 million photos for its customers. MyPublisher believes that controlling its printing and manufacturing enables it to deliver consistently superior quality and service. MyPublisher also offers digital tools to assist users in creating their book projects. MyPublisher books are all landscape format, with several cover material options in four different sizes. Pricing is up front and accessible.


Pikto, uses the latest digital press technology and finest materials to give your portfolio book a professional feel at a fraction of the price. Pitko books come in nine sizes and feature various book cover materials to give you the look of a traditionally printed coffee table art book. According to Pitko, you can create books with exquisite detail and quality of a book of “fine art” at a fraction of the price. Free software is available for download to easily and intuitively put together books from 6x8” in size to 12” x 18”. One-on-one design consultations and video tutorials are also available to help make your Pikto experience as simple possible. The website is easy to navigate and provides an easy interface for pricing and selection of materials. Pricing is up front and accessible.

White House Custom Color (WHCC)

WHCC albums and books offer more unique and affordable options compared to other industry high-end books. For albums each full-page spread is printed on your choice of paper type and then mounted to thick cardstock to lay flat. Customize a creative look that’s unique to each client with various cover options and album sizes. Customized books are a choice for portfolio style presentations. WHCC books are press printed to achieve extreme print quality, craftsmanship. Turnaround time has most books shipping next day. You can customize your portfolio books in nearly endless ways with the choice from four different page papers, over 48 cover materials, and eight book sizes. Fine details may be added to enhance your book with a photographic dust jacket or cover foil stamping. A pricing chart is up front and accessible.


Kolo makes printed portfolio books, boxes, and classic albums. Kolo also makes presentation boxes that coordinate with the photo books and albums. Kolo has a uniquely designed binding for your custom portfolio book. Books come in 5.5” x 8”, 8.5” x 11”, and 11” x 14”, while boxes and albums are offered in other sizes.  With books, the binding is expandable so additional pages con be added. Sophisticated and elegant, books are expandable and can grow with your image collection. Just upload your digital files to myKOLO, select your format and get started. Kolo offers a variety of classic styled portfolio albums. Kolo's EasyLoad is a way to quickly, and elegantly organize your images for presentation. Lolo can also provide you with portfolio boxes using archival board, European book cloth and archival acid-free book binding paper. The boxes have Kolo's trademark window to display an image or label. Pricing is up front and accessible.

Bay Photo

Bay Photo offers hard cover and soft cover portfolio books printed on Indigo printers for the high quality digital press printing that is well suited for high-end proof portfolios books. You can choose from a wide selection of sizes in square, horizontal, and vertical formats. Optional full-wrap, laminated dust jackets are also available. Bay Photo also offers premium 6-color printing for increased depth of color and the smoothest gradients. You have the option of hundreds of customizable page layout templates in Bay ROES, or create your own using any image editing application available in 48 mix-and-match cover materials for customization of your portfolio. Choose from unique lay-flat hinged pages with optional texture or UV coating (hard covers only), or perfect bound standard pages (hard covers and soft covers). The full price list is clear and accessible.

PhotoBook Press

Illustrators, artists and photographers can preserve their best work in fine limited edition portfolio books from PhotoBook Press. Quality printing, paper and binding make these books particularly suited to portfolio presentations. The basic sewn binding book has rich black bonded leather binding with black, white or ecru end leaves. Also offered are luxurious full grain or goat leathers, Japanese silks or image wrap bindings for the exterior of the book. Exquisite Nepalese cloud papers or custom printed papers can be used as end papers. Custom printing is available on soft covers, smooth heavy weight pages, and state-of-the-art press printed images, text and captions. Books are printed on 120# text weight archival papers. Heavy weight but flexible and supple, these pages have an substantial feel. More permanent than photographs, the crisp clear images in these custom portfolio books resist scratching. Slipcases can be ordered to match your portfolio book as well. With all the unique premium custom options available, pricing is a bit higher than some competitors. A pricing calculator is provided up front to help when selecting sizes, materials, and printing options.

Artifact Uprising

In addition to the hard cover portfolio books that are he signature line in Artifact Uprising’s product suite, they also offer two unique products, an Instagram book, and a custom printed wooden portfolio box. These books feature your choice of a full-sized or partial dust jacket over a fabric cover. They are available in three sizes starting at 50, 100 or 150 pages printed on Mohawk Options 100% post consumer recycled in square 8.5” x 8.5”, landscape 11” x 8.25”, or portrait 8.25” x 11” formats. If you share your art through Instagram, Artifact Uprising offers a special product, a textured eggshell matte soft cover book featuring layouts that are designed to accommodate Instagram images. Upload your favorite images and design in just minutes with layouts suited for small square images. The interior pages are printed on Mohawk Options 100% post consumer recycled with the cover stock: Mohawk Superfine Eggshell, White 120#. The custom printed wooden boxes are handcrafted in Colorado using solid deadfall beetle-kill pine reclaimed from forests. Box product specs are 12.5” x 9.5” outer dimensions to fit all Artifact Uprising hard cover and soft cover books with the top of box being customizable. The website interface is extremely user friendly. Pricing is up front accessible and extremely competitive.

Photobook America

Pro Series portfolio books are individually handcrafted using fine materials. These modern premium books use thick, heavyweight premium paper. Below the Pro Series is the more affordable Debossed series. Either way you can customize your book with features from free Photobook Designer software. A wide array of designing options allow images to be wrapped on custom matte-laminated photo covers or choose from a variety of cover materials that come in Leather, Buckram and Cambric in a host of colors. All books are individually handmade. Choose from an exclusive range of papers from a high quality heavier 170 gsm premium silk for a smooth and professional sheen with sharp contrast and great color to an upgrade to a premium papers like the 216 gsm premium silk. The 170 gsm matte textured paper imparts a canvas-like finish for a smudge resistant finish. All images are printed using the latest industry-leading HP Indigo 7600 press. Hard cover and soft cover books comes in a durable PUR perfect binding, giving books a library-quality and feel, with additional reinforced spine. A debossed window option on the cover offers creative flexibility to showcase featured picture and/or caption. Blind debossed text stamping is also available. Pricing is up front and accessible.

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