Poster.Party is a community for collectors of limited-edition art. It is a party for your walls. It also used to be a fee-free marketplace for artists and resellers. However, I have since retired the marketplace aspect to focus on other projects.

Sharing Collections Digitally

For several years, I have enjoyed collecting screen printed posters. The hobby started when I bought a concert poster and has devolved into a giant collection of concert, film, and art prints. Whenever a new face visits my home, I love to give them a tour of the posters and speak about the artists or subject matter. However, I wanted to share my posters digitally too!

Unfortunately, there was no digital offering to keep track of a poster collection and show it off as if all of the posters were hung on a wall. That's why I started experimenting with CSS Grid to render realistic frames of my posters. Then I realized I could make the walls interchangeable to preview how a poster would look on a different type of wall. From there, scope creep took over and I started to research other pain points in the community. The Poster.Party project was born!

Artist-Friendly Marketplace

Artists explained to me how low profit-margin was for a print due to processing and shipping fees. Selling platform and shipping service fees would partially be paid by the buyer, but the artist usually also had to eat up a big portion of the fees in the price of the print. One other pain artists felt were counterfeits flooding the market for limited-edition runs.

I came up with the idea that an artist could sell on Poster.Party without any fees or subscription costs on their end. I would integrate Stripe (payment processing) and EasyPost (shipping service) into the platform and present those fees to the buyer. This meant if an artists listed a poster for $40, they would receive $40.

There were two other bonuses for selling on Poster.Party:

  • I could combat counterfeits in the resale market. If a collector bought a poster on Poster.Party from an artist and then decided to resell it on the platform later, we could verify that the original purchase had been made.

  • Poster.Party could enforce carbon offsets at every purchase. Each time a poster was purchased, new or used, a tree would be planted by a nonprofit. This meant one poster could lead to the planting of many trees!

Rollback the Scope

This project ended up consuming over a year of my free time designing and developing. I also had to learn a lot about social media marketing to get artists and collectors to the platform. It was a blast watching other collectors share their "walls" of posters and artists list their inventory for sale!

At the end of the day, the business model for the marketplace was too costly. Collectors were excited to buy a cool poster for $40, but shipping could come cost ~$16. The reality is that marketplaces almost always subsidize some of the shipping fee by cutting out profit margin from the product sale. I ended up removing the marketplace aspect of Poster.Party to remove maintenance work.

Did I spend too much time on this project? Yes. Do I regret it? No! I learned a lot about launching a startup. I appreciate all of the experience gained from Poster.Party and have found it all applicable to my career.

James loves to design, code, and talk about weird web apps from ATX. He also writes snippets from the third-person.
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