When it comes to organizing your child’s artwork, one of my favorite solutions is to turn the best pieces into a photobook.
(Though you’ll still probably have a ton of them that need to go in boxes or portfolios somewhere. Or, sadly, even into the garbage… You can’t keep them all!)
I’ve used Artkive in the past with great success (here’s my Artkive review). You just mail in as many pieces of art as you want, and a few weeks later you’ll receive an absolutely gorgeous hardcover book with high-quality photos of each of the pieces. (You’ll get the art back, too, if you want.)
But you can also DIY this process by using a service like Shutterfly.
So when it comes to Artkive vs Shutterfly, which is better for making photo books of your kid’s artwork?
Artkive is easy, convenient, and super high-quality. The resulting book is fantastic. But it doesn’t come cheap. Shutterfly is far less expensive if you have more time than money and are willing to do the photography and design work yourself; plus, you’ll have more wiggle room for customization.
But let’s dive in a little deeper.
Artkive vs Shutterfly – Customization
Is it important for you to have a lot of control over how your photo book looks and feels?
Do you have an eye for design and enjoy playing around with themes and colors?
If so, you might prefer the DIY route of using Shutterfly’s photo book editor.
My wife usually uses Shutterfly to make photo books of our family vacations, and they turn out AMAZING.
There are so many great themes, design elements, and layout options to choose from.
If you know what you’re doing, you can create absolutely stunning books that people will swear you bought from a professional designer.
But the key sentence there is “if you know what you’re doing.”
If you’re not a great designer (like me), the options will just overwhelm you and you’ll spend way too much time creating a jumbled, hodge-podge of ideas when you should have just gone with something simpler.
Artkive doesn’t do much when it comes to fancy layouts, but what it does give you is a simple, super clean design.
The art photos pop, and they have a small caption if you’d like, but that’s pretty much it.
You’ll have a lot more options on Shutterfly, but Artkive will be easier to manage if you’re not a visually-inclined person.
Artkive vs Shutterfly – Price
Creating a high-quality photo book isn’t going to be cheap no matter how you slice it.
But there is a big price difference between these two services (and you’ll see why shortly).
A basic photo book from Shutterfly will start at around $48, while Artkive books start at around $114.
Here’s the quick math:
To buy a comparable 8.5×11 hardcover Shutterfly book (just like you get with Artkive), the starting price for 20 pages is 39.99
Each additional page is about $1.59
A 25-page book from Shutterfly would cost about $48, to start, plus taxes, shipping, etc.
(Though they often have sales and discounts available. Check current Shutterfly prices here.)
The smallest Artkive book you can create will hold up to 25 pieces and will cost you $39 for the box and a second payment of $75 for a grand total of $114.
(Additional pages cost between $1-3 depending on how many you’re adding.)
Artkive vs Shutterfly – Convenience
This is where Artkive earns that big price discrepancy.
If you go with Shutterfly, you’ll have to painstakingly photograph, upload, edit, crop, etc. all of your own photos of your child’s artwork.
That can be a pretty time-consuming process, and it likely won’t turn out nearly as well as it would if a pro did it.
(Artkive has a studio set-up just for this purpose, and they know how to make your artwork really pop.)
Factor in a few hours of your time to get this done properly, not to mention the time you’ll spend designing your Shutterfly book.
Artkive books may start out costing at least twice what you’d pay on Shutterfly, but once you send off your artwork in the mail you’re just about done!
You’ll do a quick preview of a proof copy of your book online — shuffle pages around, add captions, choose a cover. But that’s all you really need to do.
Shutterfly will save you at least $50-60 over Artkive, but will likely be an incredibly time-consuming project.
Artkive vs Shutterfly – Quality
The quality of both photo books is fantastic, that I can personally attest to.
But there is also the human element to consider, and it goes both ways.
Here’s what I mean.
With Shutterfly, you’re 100% responsible for the resulting book. You upload each photo, choose the layout, manually add each caption, and press Finished when you’re done.
If there’s a mistake in the book, or if the design sucks, it’s on you!
(Trust me, we have printed expensive Shutterfly books before that had typos in them. It’s not a great feeling.)
With Artkive, you’ll get a little more hand-holding and proofing. It really feels like there’s a human on the other end who’s making sure all the photos look good and are lined up correctly, and that they have everything they need from you before they finalize and print your book.
I can’t say with 100% certainty Artkive would never print a book with a mistake, but it’s far less likely with their white-glove level of service.
If it’s important to you to get this book RIGHT (and for the price, it should be), and you’re afraid you might screw it up, spring for Artkive.
I’ve used both of these services for different things over the years, and I’ve loved the resulting book in all cases.
I think Shutterfly’s photobook creator is really fantastic when working with vacation, family, or event photos.
But for kid’s artwork, I would go with a more expensive but convenient service like Artkive to do the heavy lifting for me.
I just think you’ll have trouble photographing the artwork well on your own if you’re not an experienced photographer. And even if you can get it right, it will probably take a lot of time.
I know Artkive is a little pricey, but I personally found it to be worth every penny.