My idea, purpose and audience

My business idea is to design personalised graphic characters of people and print them onto various products. Personalised gifts and products are becoming more popular these days owing to consumers wanting more thoughtful and individual products.

Before coming to university, I used to work in a photo lab where I would print peoples photos onto gifts including canvases, calendars and photo books. These personalised gifts were very popular, especially when they were for special occasions such as birthdays and Christmas. I decided to merge it with my love of graphic and character design to create this business idea. The age range of people buying the gifts was very varied, so, based on my experience working in the photo lab, I think that the age span of my audience would also have quite a wide span, from children to older animation and character fans.

First, the client would upload a photo of themselves or someone else onto my website. Secondly, they would choose a style of character they’d like to be illustrated as. Thirdly, they would be able to select what product(s) they would like the character design to be printed on, type in their shipping address and then pay online for their order. Using the photo they supplied as a reference, I’d create their character using graphic design software such as Illustrator or Procreate. The designs would then be printed onto their chosen product and delivered to their shipping address.

I’ll be offering a large range of character options to my client. These may be drawn in my own personal style which I’m continuing to develop or in an existing style from popular culture such as animated shows (for example: Disney, anime, The Simpsons), and video games (such as Minecraft, Animal Crossing, Pokemon). I feel like these pop culture characters would be good options especially when the client is buying a gift for someone who is a big fan of that certain show. I’d also be able to easily capitalise on current trends depending on whichever show/game is popular at the time for various age groups. Keeping really up to date with popular culture is going to be so important as what is in fashion changes so rapidly. 

I’ve researched what products are being offered on other existing gifting websites. I have also used my own experience of working in the photo lab making gifts to help with my selection of what products I will be offering. Some examples of products I would definitely like to offer include, t-shirts, phone cases, framed prints, coffee cups and tote bags for example. I’m going to keep this product range fairly small to begin with and expand the range when the business grows or if there was a demand for other products.

A piece of inspiration for me when creating the business idea was an article showcasing the work of artist Dino Tomic (see the examples below), The artist did a small project where he illustrated celebrities in the style of cartoon characters. He has now gained 950,000 followers on his Instagram page, which indicates that people really like the idea of turning people into different character styles. His artwork is an excellent example of the style and quality of work that I wish to emulate.

Celebrities as characters in different cartoons by Dino Tomic

In researching more into the creative industries, I discovered that they are ‘one of the worlds fastest growing sectors’ (Creative Economy, n.d.). The design sector is very successful, in the UK alone ‘an estimated £33.5 billion [is] spent annually’ and it ‘is linked to profit: For every £1 invested in design, businesses can expect over £4 increase in net operating profit’ (The Creative Industries, n.d.). These facts and statistics have confirmed to me that the design industry is a great sector to be starting an online business in.

Within the design industry, there is a growing demand for personalised gifts. I read an article explaining how the founder of ‘personalisedgiftshop.co.uk‘ ‘Turned £5.50 into a £7Million personalised gifts business’ (Fitzsimons, 2019). Also, a search on ‘etsy.com‘ of the words ‘personalised’ and ‘customised’ both bring up over three million search results. All this research reinforced how popular personalised gifting options are.

Search results on etsy

However, I am also aware that I am going to need to have unique attributes in order to stand out in this market. I did some further market research and discovered that there aren’t many other companies that are specifically offering my idea of printing personalised character designs onto various products. There are some similar existing gifting companies such as ‘personalisedgiftshop.co.uk‘, who print custom text and names onto products, and Photobox, Snapfish and Boots Photo, who all print photos onto their products instead. As my business will be printing different character graphics onto multiple products, I will be able to stand out from these existing companies. I’ll analyse this more in the next blogpost.

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References:

Creative Economy (n.d.) The creative economy team supports people around the world to shape and share a creative and prosperous future. Available online: https://creativeconomy.britishcouncil.org/about/ [Accessed 18/10/2020].

The Creative Industries (n.d.) The value of the uk design industry. Available online: https://www.thecreativeindustries.co.uk/industries/design/design-facts-and-figures/the-value-of-the-uk-design-industry]. [Accessed 18/10/2020].

Fitzsimons, J (2019) Women reveals how she turned £5.50 into a £7Million personalised gifts business. Available online: https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/woman-reveals-how-turned-550-14270554 [Accessed 18/10/2020].

Demilked (2020) This artist drew celebrities as characters in different cartoons. Available online: https://www.demilked.com/celebrities-in-different-cartoon-styles-dino-tomic/ [Accessed 18/10/2020].

Etsy (2020) Etsy personalised search results. Available online: https://www.etsy.com/uk/search?q=personalised [Accessed 03/11/2020].

Etsy (2020) Etsy customised search results. Available online: https://www.etsy.com/uk/search?q=customised&_qc=customized [Accessed 03/11/2020].

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