Any parent of a toddler who goes to school knows this problem well:
The absolutely endless influx of artwork that enters your house on a daily basis.
Yes, it’s cute! It’s adorable! It’s a piece of history!
It’s also incredibly annoying when the pile starts to take over entire rooms in your house.
I’ve written before about some different storage solutions for this particular problem, but there was one, in particular, I really wanted to try first hand:
The Artkive box — It’s a box you fill up with your kid’s art and send off in the mail. A few weeks later, you’ll get a professionally bound book filled with photos of the art. Much easier to store!
I recently gave this service a try, and overall Artkive was a fun and easy process to go through. The book you get at the end is gorgeous and extremely high-quality, though the service is pretty pricey and won’t be the end-all-be-all for getting rid of your piles of artwork.
Still, an Artkive book is an absolutely amazing keepsake or gift that parents should definitely consider.
Let’s take a closer look at how Artkive works in my hands-on, 100% honest Artkive box review.
(Or follow my Artikive promo code link right now for $20 off your box.)
What is an Artkive box and how does it work?
You might have heard of Artkive back in the company’s earlier days.
It started off as an app you could install on your phone. Through the app, you could photograph all of your child’s artwork with your own camera.
Inside the app, you could manage and share all of the photos, and choose certain ones to print inside of a book.
These days, Artkive works a little different, and it’s become more of a white-glove experience.
Essentially, once you sign up:
- Artkive sends you a large box
- Fill the box with anywhere from 25-200 pieces of your child’s artwork
- Send the box back with the included shipping label
- Artkive’s photographers professionally photograph each and every piece, uploading them to a digital dashboard
- Manage the layout of your book online and, when you’re ready, have it printed
- Receive a beautifully bound keepsake in the mail
- (You can pay extra shipping to have the original artwork returned to you)
The whole thing is pretty simple.
I recently went through the whole process, beginning to end, after being inspired by a growing mountain of my daughter’s artwork had started swallowing up my home office.
(I received my Artkive book for free in exchange for an honest review.)
To start off, you’ll get this big cardboard box in the mail about 7-10 days after you sign up and pay the initial $39 fee.
Inside the box, you’ll find an empty plastic bag (for placing the artwork in) and an envelope.
The outer part of the envelope has the basic Artkive instructions. It walks you through:
- How to pack up your artwork
- How to send the box back
- What to do next
Inside, there’s also a form to fill out. The form lets you customize your Artkive book by including:
- Your child’s name
- Their age
- How the art is sorted or ordered
- And what the title of your book should be
We laid out all of our artwork on the floor.
Together with my wife and daughter, we went through piece by piece. This was actually really fun and a great way to relive old memories!
(Our daughter was OUTRAGEOUSLY excited about all of this, by the way. So involve the kids, for sure!)
We separated the art into:
- Keep & save forever
- Give away to grandparents
- Throw away (sorry not sorry!)
- And stuff we wanted to put in the book
Everything we put aside for the book, we put in separate piles by school year and clipped them together (with a label).
We wanted the book to be in at least a rough chronological order.
After sorting, clipping, and labeling (plus filling out the form), we stuffed everything into the plastic bag that came with our package.
From there, we sealed up the box, slapped on the new label, and shipped it back off to the folks at Artkive.
A few days later, I got an email that Artkive had received my package. Hooray!
(It was nice to get confirmation — certainly wouldn’t want this stuff getting lost forever in the mail system).
About 2 weeks after that, I got a notification that our art had been photographed and it was time to proceed.
You’ll have to pay your final balance here depending on how much art you sent in (more on pricing below), and then Artkive will finish editing and uploading your photos to the dashboard.
That part only took a few days!
Then everything was ready for me to view in the online portal.
From here, you can see how all the images turned out, upload new images (I added a photo of my daughter for the cover, after a helpful email prompt from Artkive recommended it), and you can manipulate or edit the images as you see fit.
You can also preview your book and change how the pages are laid out if you’d like.
From there, once you’ve approved everything, the book heads on to printing.
Expect it to take about 3-5 days to ship out from the facility.
The Finished Book
The whole process above took about 6 weeks or so from start to finish.
(Part of that was on me. I didn’t approve my book or pay the final shipping costs to receive my artwork back right away.)
And then, one day, WHALA:
The quality of the book is INCREDIBLY high, with thick, durable, photo-quality pages and a rock-solid hardcover.
I’ll also note that the book came well-packed in a secure box. It arrived safe and sound without any cuts or scrapes.
The photos inside the book were exceptional and were far better than I could have done at home with my iPhone.
I could also tell that human beings had been involved in this process — Photos were oriented and centered on the page properly.
(And a REALLY nice touch, pieces of art that weren’t square or rectangle were placed on colorful backgrounds to make them pop more. See the little dog painting above!)
Overall, the finished product is a truly amazing keepsake. I’m so excited to have it on our shelf and be able to easily pull it out for our daughter to see one day when she’s older.
(It might also make a great gift for a grandparent down the road).
Artkive Mosaic Prints
Once you’ve sent your art to Artkive and had it digitized, you can have them print additional books.
You can even have them print gorgeous, giant mosaic prints featuring your child’s art!
These are incredible gifts for grandparents and other family members, and of exceptional quality, though again, they aren’t cheap.
As of this writing, the mosaic prints cost $169.
They come framed and ready to hang, and wow, talk about an amazing wall decoration keepsake.
I ordered some for Christmas this year, and I’ll update this space with photos after I fully unbox them!
How much does Artkive cost?
Alright, it all sounds great, now what is it going to cost you?
The flat rate to receive your Artkive box is $39.
Once you pay that, you’ll receive your box and the prepaid label to send in all the artwork.
From there, you can stuff the box with anywhere from 25-200 pieces of art. The more art you send, the more your final book will cost.
For the bare minimum 25-piece book, you’ll owe an additional $75.
For a 200-piece book, your second payment will be just over $300!
You can send however many pieces you’d like within that range, however, and you don’t need to settle on a round number or specific package.
What I loved about Artkive (Pros)
So I obviously love this concept, which is why I reached out to Artkive to give the service a try.
I’m not kidding when I say the artwork pile in my house was starting to cause me anxiety. I really was looking for solutions!
Overall, after trying Artkive, here’s what I really liked:
The photography and the book itself are absolutely amazing.
This isn’t some print-it-yourself book you’d get from any old photo service. The art is photographed and edited by professionals, and the final book reflects it.
It’s really a one-of-a-kind keepsake.
The Communications & Customer Service
Artkive really does a good job of updating you throughout the process.
They let you know when your box is on its way, what to do when you get it, when they receive it back, and when it’s time to preview your book.
It’s a long process, in the end, but you’ll never be confused about what’s happening with your Artkive book.
The Fun & Experience
I honestly loved sitting down with my family and going through the last 4 years of artwork.
Even though we ended up getting rid of some of it, it was a blast reliving all of our favorite pieces our daughter has ever brought home.
Without Artkive, it would all still be gathering dust somewhere!
What I didn’t love (Cons)
The service, as much as I enjoyed the final product, isn’t 100% perfect.
This has to be the main drawback of Artkive. For many families, the cost will simply be too prohibitive, which is a shame.
I’m not saying Artkive isn’t worth it — it is!. And I’m not saying the book and photos aren’t top-notch quality — they are!
But even the smallest offering they have will cost you over $100, and that’s for only documenting 25 pieces of art.
A bigger book will run you a small fortune.
It Takes A While
The whole process, start to finish, took about 6 weeks or so.
There’s a lot that goes into it, from sorting your art, to sending it in, to previewing the book.
The process is very clearly and intelligently organized, but if you’re expecting to get this book quickly for a holiday or something, you’ll want to plan a little farther ahead.
Overall, Artkive was fun and easy, and the finished product was something I’ll cherish for a long, long time.
It’s not going to be a great solution for cutting down on artwork clutter, only because of the cost. To Artkive your kid’s whole collection would cost you several hundred dollars and wouldn’t be all that practical.
But as a gift and keepsake of some of your favorite art pieces ever? If you can afford to spring for one as a really special gift for a family member or to wrap up your kid’s preschool artwork, I’d highly recommend Artkive!
Hope this helps, everyone.