How Printhouse built a reliable online printing and shipping service for artists

Printhouse is a service that helps artists sell their art. On the platform, artists can upload their artworks, and then Printhouse handles the rest: printing and shipping to customers worldwide.

Printhouse is a print-on-demand and drop-shipping service for artists, photographers, and digital illustrators. In fact, they function as a back-office for artists, taking the administrative burden off their shoulders.

To sell their art, users upload digital copies of it to Printhouse and connect the ecommerce platforms they use (like Shopify or Gumroad). After that, Printhouse takes care of the printing, white labeling, worldwide shipping, and any problems related to refunds. As of today, Printhouse has over 600 paying customers.

Jorge Vargas, CEO of Printhouse
Jorge Vargas, CEO of Printhouse
Our business is built around getting rid of the headaches of artists, photographers, and painters. We're giving them more time. Rather than spend three, four, or five hours a day just taking care of orders, they can spend that time doing what they do: painting and taking photos.

As a printing service for artists, Printhouse needed a file uploading solution that would take into account the specifics of their business. The key thing is, Printhouse deals with high-resolution high-quality artworks. To get quality prints, an image should have a high DPI, the number of dots per inch that a printer will use. The higher the DPI is, the more it adds to the file size.

Most file uploading solutions on the market are designed to reduce file size during uploading to save space, but that’s unacceptable for a printing service. So, the challenge was to find a file uploader that would accept large files fast without affecting the quality.

The second challenge was to provide a high security level to ensure that the original files wouldn’t get lost, stolen, or vandalized.

Building such a functional and reliable solution in-house would’ve taken too much time and human resources, so the team decided to opt for a third-party solution and bring their product to market faster.

Jorge Vargas, CEO of Printhouse
Jorge Vargas, CEO of Printhouse
Pretty much anyone new to software development might say, 'Oh, I can build something that uploads files in a couple of hours.' But we have already been through all the pains of building it for another big project. When we started this project, we were like, 'No, that's a complex problem. Let's hire someone that knows how to solve it.'

Printhouse was looking for solution that would help them to succeed in four crucial tasks:

The team needed an all-in-one file upload infrastructure to accept files from users, keep them safe in a reliable storage, and easily share them with a third-party printing service. They wanted to completely automate the file-handling process.

To produce quality prints, an image needs to have 150 DPI. That’s why the Printhouse team was looking for a file uploading solution that could handle large files fast and wouldn’t affect the quality of the images.

Printhouse needed a reliable partner that would guarantee stability, availability, and proper performance. Also, they required secure storage so not a single file would slip through the cracks.

To retain customers, the platform needed to provide the best possible experience, and be fast and easy to use. The third-party uploading service needed to contribute to the platform’s CX quality, not harm it.

Uploadcare met all their requirements and proposed flexible pricing terms, so Printhouse integrated the solution. This streamlined their file handling pipeline from start to finish.

File uploader for Printhouse

After a quick integration, Printhouse got a ready-made file uploader. They customized the appearance of the widget to fit their simple website design. Also, they adjusted the functionality to make it as easy to use as possible: they enabled drag & drop, chose only the most necessary upload source and removed the rest, and allowed uploading multiple files in one go.

Jorge Vargas, CEO of Printhouse
Jorge Vargas, CEO of Printhouse
We could have coded our own upload widget, but the fact that your product was already out there and working and we knew you would not give us any problems was the main reason why we went with you guys.

Since they were working with a third-party printing company, the Printhouse team needed a way to share uploaded files with them quickly and easily. With Uploadcare, every file uploaded by a user automatically gets a CDN URL, so file sharing doesn’t involve any additional steps like downloading or uploading to other services. All they need to do is to copy and paste the link.

Jorge Vargas, CEO of Printhouse
Jorge Vargas, CEO of Printhouse
We like Uploadcare because it's easy to upload files, and the API is quite user friendly from a development standpoint. We use a third party to print the files, and with Uploadcare URLs, it's easy for them to get the files and print them. It's easy all the way.

Printhouse doesn't have to worry about finding reliable storage as well as maintaining it over time. Once uploaded, all files are stored securely in cloud storage provided by Uploadcare. It works out of the box and doesn’t require any configurations—Uploadcare automatically scales the infrastructure as the customer base and the number of uploads grows.

Jorge Vargas, CEO of Printhouse
Jorge Vargas, CEO of Printhouse
The main advantage is that Uploadcare handles all the storage and everything that's involved in that infrastructure, we don't have to deal with that. All we have to do is use the widget and the links with the files.

Uploadcare covered all the aspects of the file handling process, allowing Printhouses’s in-house engineers to focus on the other crucial features of the product. The value that Uploadcare brought to the business appeared to be higher than its cost.

Jorge Vargas, CEO of Printhouse
Jorge Vargas, CEO of Printhouse
Uploadcare just takes a lot of the headaches of the day-to-day of running the product away from us. We don't have to deal with problems with files that get lost or problems with lack of space. We know how complex the problem is, and Uploadcare solves it for us at a decent price.

Uploadcare doesn’t affect the characteristics of photos during uploading, and there’s no drop in DPI, unless you enable automated shrinking in the settings. Even if you implement some manipulations with uploaded photos, you can always restore the originals. This allows Printhouse to deliver an excellent quality of printing, and there’s no chance for the original artworks to be ruined or lost.

Maria Santana, Head Brand Manager at Printhouse
Maria Santana, Head Brand Manager at Printhouse
The advantage that Uploadcare gives us is that it doesn't change the resolution of the image or the size of the image, which is the most important part of printing it right.

Uploadcare File Uploader allows artists from anywhere in the world to upload large files in high resolution without facing any performance issues. According to Uploadcare’s clients’ statistics, a 1 MB photo is uploaded in 0.005 milliseconds on average. That means it never wastes the user's time or bandwidth.

Bearing in mind that users usually need to process multiple orders at once, this saves them a noticeable amount of time and improves their experience on the platform.

The Printhouse team strives to completely automate the processes on their platform. Uploadcare contributed to this goal by providing a stable file uploading service covered by an SLA and 99.99% uptime.

As of today, 90% of orders go through the system in a 100% automatic way with no humans involved. The remaining 10% are usually related to issues like missing shipping addresses or other data.

Juan Rios, Customer Service Manager at Printhouse
Since we work worldwide, some of our customers come to our platform during times when we're not around. It is extremely important that they can upload their files without any problem. We luckily have not had any big issues with your platform that we couldn't fix quickly. That aspect is really important and I think you guys have nailed that.

By integrating Uploadcare, the Printhouse team got an uploading service that has already covered data encryption, access control, backups, compliance, and more to ensure that the users’ original files are 100% safe.

Uploadcare is an end-to-end cloud platform that provides a next-gen infrastructure for file handling. It can cover any part of the media pipeline or all of them at once:

  • One of the world’s fastest File Uploaders
  • Automated secure Smart Storage
  • AI-driven Image Transformations Engine
  • Proprietary designed Visual Intelligence Algorithms
  • Adaptive Delivery solution