Posts Tagged ‘Canvas Print’

May 30, 2018

Return to Shutterfly

It’s been years, but I suddenly find myself an active Shutterfly user again.

It started with the Christmas cards. After nearly a decade of printing and addressing them myself, our home printer ran out of ink forcing me to look for an online alternative. That alternative turned out to be Shutterfly. It worked out well, and I returned to Shutterfly for last years’ cards as well, but I still had a mental block using them for my other printing needs.

One afternoon while I was nursing Dana and browsing the internet aimlessly I started thinking about Santa plates.
Since the first realization that my second child was going to be a wintertime baby I’ve been wanting to do a special Cookies for Santa plate. My first idea was a wreath made out of handprints, like this. Anticipating the difficulty of getting a few good hand prints, let alone many, and in the right pattern, my plan was to get the prints on paper first and figure out how to transfer them to the plate later. I tried custom stamps, and tracing paper with food safe ceramic paint. No dice. Not only did my ideas not work, but it left me with the awkward problem of figuring out what to do with the wasted plates. They are my kids’ hand and footprints after all. Three years later it suddenly dawned on me – design the plates on the computer and print them.

Shutterfly had the best price again, so I whipped up a quick design and sent it off to the printers. I was super happy with the print quality, though my design left a little something to be desired. I promised myself I’d fix the design and buy a second plate with a coupon that seems to come every couple of weeks.

A short while later an offer for a free puzzle (not including shipping) graced my inbox. I have been hoping to spark a love of puzzles in my kids, and a custom puzzle with their faces seemed like it might do the trick.

The puzzle was great so I decided to order a framed canvas print (an image of one of the girls edited to look like water colors). I really liked the way Shutterfly’s canvas print appeared to be floating in the frame. None of the other places I looked at framed their canvases in the same way.

Three orders in a handful of weeks!

That’s when I started to become less enamored.

The plate resist arrived with scratches and other minor cosmetic defects. I asked customer service for a reprint. They obliged, but not until I proved the presence of the scratches which I always find annoying. The reorder arrived with more noticeable splotches of extraneous color. Both where several steps below the quality of the first test plate. I will probably use the scratched plate since it has the design I like. The kids won’t notice or care about the scratches, and I can edit the scratches out any photos I take. If it annoys me too much I’ll look into having it printed elsewhere.

My experience with the framed canvas print wasn’t much better. The frame cames without any kind of mechanism to hang it. No hooks, no wire of any kind. It wasn’t possible to just send the hooks, so Shutterfly is resent the print. The hook arrived in a plastic baggie staples to the frame. Plus side, I got to choose which frame I hung. Downside, both canvases had some pretty pronounced creases.

To their credit, Shutterfly really does try and fix things.

February 9, 2016



When Nicole was born, I made refrigerator magnets out of her footprints. When Alexis was born, I took her handprints with the hopes of transferring them to a cookie plate for Santa. The end result was passable, but not great so I never posted a picture.

I really don’t like the idea of having something with Nicole’s newborn prints and not something with Alexis’. It messes with my sense of balance. I thought about making another refrigerator magnet with Alexis’ hand print but wasn’t overly excited with the idea. Since the move our refrigerator has been bare, and I kind of like it that way.

When this idea to incorporate both kids’ prints popped into my head I knew I just had to do it. It’s a image, created from scans of both prints, and then printed to scale on canvas. I just love, love, love how it turned out! The canvas does an excellent job of discussing the fact that those hand and footprints weren’t stamped directly onto it.

Nicole’s newborn foot prints taken in July 2012, with the other letters (poorly) cloned out.

Alexis’ newborn hand prints taken in December 2014.

For this canvas print I used MPix. I’ve always thought of them as “pricier”, but with the 25% off sale they were having at the beginning of the month, they were only slightly more expensive then the competitors. Totally worth it as the quality appears to be better. The canvas itself appears to be of higher quality, and it has silicon feet on the back to prevent scuffing on the wall. I can’t be more definitive on the print quality, other then to say I have no complaints. There’s no skin ton in this print, and that’s where I was disappointed with Shutterfly, and then again with Cafepress in the past.


The canvas print measures 14 x 11. I used Segoe Script for the L & e, and Katheleen font for the girls names.

Now I just need to figure out where to hang it.

January 22, 2014

Luckless with Canvas Prints

I am luckless with canvas prints.

family photo as a canvas print

Back in early November I ordered a voucher for a large canvas print. I decided to go with the 24 x 32 sized canvas since that most closely matched (at least sized wise) our framed wedding photo, whose spot the canvas print would be taking. My goal was to have it, and the accent pieces hung, so our home could feel more lived-in while hosting our families for Christmas.

After some photo ninjaing due to the fact that the resolution of the photo I selected was a hair too small for the 24 x 32, I traded in the voucher on December 1st and ordered the Canvas print. It should have been plenty of time to have the canvas print mounted above the fireplace for Christmas morning.

On December 17th I received a print, a suspiciously small package arrived. A 16 x 20 sized package, which, sure enough, held a 16 x 20 sized canvas print. Domingo was on travel, so I couldn’t deal with it until after Nicki was in bed, which of course was after customer service had gone home for the night. I went to bed frustrated. Frustrated at Cafepress for the slip-up and frustrated at myself for not saving the receipt. Because I had purchased a voucher I could prove that I paid for a large, but I had no evidence that I had actually ordered a large other than the issue with the resolution. I wasn’t sure they would take my word for it.

I called Cafepress the next morning. Since the voucher code showed the price I paid they would order a new print. Phew.

When the 20th rolled around I still hadn’t heard anything about the print. I received a promotional email from them stating that today, the 20th, was the last day to order an item and have garanteed arrival for Christmas. In a panic I called up Customer service to see if there was anyway they could rush the reprint. Alas, there was nothing that they could do, canvas prints take too long to have printed. I was crushed, but I understood.

Three days latter, on the 23rd, I got an email from Customer support. They would not even process my reorder until I sent them a 3 x 5 swatch of the 16 x 20 print. They needed to be sure I wouldn’t benefit from their mistake by having two canvas prints. I was livid. I was not going to have the print I wanted in time for Christmas in part because they were intentionally delaying it. The swatch went out with the mail the very next day, but it wasn’t until January 7th that they began to process my reprint.

When the right size print arrived, well into the new year, I was still left a bit underwhelmed.

Scuff Marks Along the Edges

Despite being suspended inside the box, a 1 inch section along the edge of both the left and the right side of the canvas print had somehow been rubbed to the point of missing ink. It wouldn’t have been noticeable had I ordered a light color background, but white against brown stood out like a sore thumb.

This is where I’m grateful to have had the 16 x 20 print. I really didn’t want to go through the hassle of dealing with customer service and wait another month for a canvas print. Since the 16 x 20 was already destroyed, I thought I would see if I could ‘fix’ the white spots. I used a scissors to scar the canvas, and then drew in on them with Nicki’s crayons. They had about the same amount of ‘sheen’ as the ink, even though the color was slightly off. It made what would have been an eye sore much less noticeable.

After coloring in the white spots with one of Nicki’s brown crayons

Red Skin Tone

Here’s where having the 16 x 20 hurt me. The 16 x 20 print job was gorgeous. The 32 x 24? Overly red. If I didn’t have the 16 x 20 to compare, the redness would not have been so noticeable.

The red tone is more noticeable when the eyeball light, an Incandescent bulb that produces a yellow light, is on. If it continues to bother me, maybe I’ll see about replacing the yellow light for a natural light. For now, we don’t have a step latter tall enough.

A New Sarah

What makes me so ragey about these experiences is that I’m being forced to jump through hoops to ensure I’m not cheating them. I get that some customers probably do try and scam these companies, but they’re needs to be a better way to handle them then to treat every customer as a would-be-cheat. This delayed my canvas print by two additional weeks.

Old Sarah wouldn’t have stood for these things. Old Sarah didn’t. New Sarah is tired. New Sarah has to get up early in the morning to go to work. New Sarah wants to spend what little energy she has left at the end of the day on baking and bed time stories.

Part of the reason I’m more willing to let this slide is because I know this canvas print won’t be the one up for all perpetuity. I’d prefer the big living room photo should include all family members and our family is bound to grow at some point. When we’re done having kids and all the kids are fairly recognizable (i.e. not still babies) we’ll get a nicer quality print. In the mean time I shall continue to make do with discount prints.

This is a bit of a long story. The TL;DR version is that I purchased that canvas print two months ago, but due to a series of print errors, I only just recently received it. For the first month I was in customer service hell. I finally got some one who was able to fix the problem by reaching out on twitter. Now I’m a happy customer once again.

On September 3rd I purchased a large canvas print of Nicki for her nursery. I loved the idea of having one of my photos blown up, and thought it would be very new-age-y and art-y to have. The canvas print that arrived, however, was all wrong. my baby was a reddish orange of an oompa lompa after a temper tantrum.

What I think went wrong

Print shops like shutterfly apply automatic color correcting before each print. They call the color correction software vividpix. Most of the time this software will enhance the photo, making it more vibrant. Even though I had already color correct my images, I’ve printed from them before (my wedding guestbook and Nicki’s birth announcements) and never had an issue with Shutterfly’s color correcting. The preview looked fine, so I didn’t give it a second thought.

The photo I was having printed of Nicki, however, was particularly light. She’s shoot against a white background with a white stuffed animal. My guess is to the computer, the over abundance of white made the image seem washed out. To ‘correct’ it, the software went overboard, upping the saturation to a comical level.

My Customer Service Nightmare Begins

I immediately called Shutterfly customer support upon opening the canvas print. The automated system told me the wait time was 30 minutes, and that they could hold my place in line and call back when an agent was available. I choose that option.

After an hour with no call back I started to really stew. I decided to call customer support again and stay on the line. If I got a callback while on hold I could hang up to answer. At least this way I was sure I was in the queue. This time the predicted wait time was 52 minutes.

Another hour passed.

As I waited I poked around the shutterfly website. They had the option for ‘live help’ which apparently wasn’t ‘live’, but an email form even though it was still before the 5 pm closing time. I filled it out anyway.

Another hour passed.

Finally someone answered. At this point I had been on hold in one form or another for three hours. I was beyond frustrated. I explained the problem to the support person and he said he needed to put me on hold to ‘check something’. When he came back his response was “it looks fine to me.” (Note to any customer oriented people who may read this some day: If the customer is irate after a large order, the appropriate response is not “it looks fine to me”. This is going on my nursery wall, not anyone else’s. I’m the one that needs to be happy with it, not anyone else.)

The customer support agent gave me two options: return it for a refund, or snap a picture with my cell phone so he could verify the colors were off and they could try to reprint it. Since I still wanted a canvas print for the nursery, I chose the second option. Only I could tell he didn’t know what he was talking about. A cell phone image would not necessarily be true to life colors. I didn’t want him deciding the print job was fine and dismissing my complaint again. To make the problem as obvious as possible, I printed the image to put next to the canvas print when I snapped my picture.

I called back. This time the wait was reported as 103 minutes.

102 I-so-wish-I-was-making-this-up minutes later, the system hung up on me. The office was closed for the day.

I was livid.

When I woke up the next morning I had a response to the form I had filled out. Shutterfly was reprinting the canvas print with Vividpix turned off. The next Friday I received another Oompa Loompa photo.

Since I was busy with Nicki all day, I hadn’t opened the package until the office was closed for the day. The next morning I wake up as soon as the customer service department opens up. Yes, I woke up before the baby just to contact customer support. This time ‘live help’ was working and opened up a chat window. The rep told me that “all appropriate color correction was done.” I asked what that means, since no color correcting was supposed to be applied. “Yes, that’s what I meant.” There was nothing she could do, I’d have to call customer support back on Monday.

I really didn’t want to spend another 5 hours on hold. I don’t want to waste another day on the phone. I couldn’t, I was still on maternity leave and had to watch Nicki while my husband is at work. I told myself I can live with the print. I have my friends tell me I can live with the print. But I just couldn’t. By the end of the week I still couldn’t bring myself to hang the canvas print on the wall.

I decide to try the email form one more time since that’s we’re I had the most luck last time. The customer support agent who responded was able to tell that vividpix was not turned off correctly. He suggestion I upload the image again and to turn off vividpix myself. He would apply free credits to my account so I could reprint it.

Since I don’t want to repeat this exercise yet again, and since the customer support agents didn’t seem to have a good idea what was wrong, I decide to send the image to the two most graphics experts I know, my sister and her husband. They theorized that the problem may be the color display. Basically, my computer and their printer may be processing colors differently. They showed me my photograph under different color displays on their computer and, sure enough, one looks particularly red. I do a little googeling and find that Shutterfly print in sRGB.

I contacted customer support to see if they can print the image in a different color display. Its a long shot, but would save me from recallabrating it. Short answer: no. The agent suggests I use the preview option to verify the image is correct after I upload it, promising it will print “exactly the same.” Except I did, and it didn’t. In fact, not only did my photo look beautiful in the preview view, it looked wonderful on the receipt shutterfly printed and included with both oompa loompa canvas prints. The only option left, per her recommendation, was to change my color display to sRGB and color correct yet again. That’s when I discover my monitor is already set to sRGB. The color display wasn’t the problem.

It gave me an idea. Even though my monitor was in sRGB, I could still tweek the colors. There’s a range of acceptable skin tones. I split the color channel in my graphics program. Splitting the color channel shows me the proportions of red, green and blue. Sure enough, the red channel looks a bit blown out.

Here’s were we’re really expanding outside my comfortable zone and skill level. My goal was to adjust the skin tone so that it’s on the pale yellow end of the acceptability range. That way whether it prints as is, or on the redder side, I will still be happy with it. Only, I’ve never done this before, and the current version looks beautiful to me. Since it wasn’t printing red at home, I would have no way of knowing when I tweeked it enough, or too much. I was effectively flying blind.

Since I was modifying the image, it would be my fault if the image printed too pale. I couldn’t get mad at Shutterfly if this reprint was still not up-to-snuff. Thus I decided this is would be my last attempt.

I finish the redesign and login in to shutterfly to order the reprint. Only I have no promised credits. I email shutterfly again to ask for the promised credits. Their response? I would need to mail the canvas print back to them so they could verify the color problem. On my dime. Totally Unacceptable. I just went through the exercise to fix the reprint myself. A month has passed since I first placed the order. I was not going to spend more of my money and time. I was previously willing to walk away, but this response had my livid once again. I was the paying customer, and I once again wanted (demanded?) satisfaction.

At this point it had been 3 phone calls, 5 hours on hold, 3 emails, and 2 chats. I took to twitter and complained. Loudly.

A Resolution

After a couple days of angry tweets I finally get a response. Through a series of direct messages the customer service agent offered to reprint the canvas print again. Her plan was to ship it to herself and verify the quality of the print. Once she was satisfied the problem was resolved, she would send it to me.

Another month and three reprints later, she had a reprint she felt comfortable sending me. Shutterfly didn’t use my modified image and I never found out what was wrong. But that doesn’t really matter now, does it? I finally have a canvas print I’m happy with.

Would I use Shutterfly again?

Yes and no.

To their credit Shutterfly was willing to reprint the canvas print four times. I doubt there are very many places that would have gone to that level of effort. Shutterfly didn’t give up, and I really appreciate that. I achieved my goal of having a canvas print I could be proud of in her nursery. I am once again a happy customer.

On the other hand, the first month was hell. Each time I’d call back a different agent would direct me to do something else and I got the impression more than once that the customer sales agent didn’t believe there was a problem with the print, and thought I was trying to defraud the company. I wasted an awful lot of time and energy on this project, and spent too much money to be treated that way.

So yes, I will use Shutterfly again. Just not in the near future.