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The Little Black Book by Artisan State Review

Sydney Wedding Photographer | Sydney Family Portrait Photographer

Recently I decided to take the plunge and actually click on a Facebook ad. It just kept on popping up on my phone, and every time I looked at my news feed there it was, an ad for a $20 photo album. Initially, like most people you would be skeptical about the quality of something this cheap, but you know what, it was only $20 to lose if it turned out to be an absolute disaster! Like they say, if you continue to do what you do, then you will continue to get what you already have…. Makes sense?

The company is called Artisan State, and they are a US based company who claim to make quality photo albums affordable. They are sick and tired of cheap quality photobooks that are out there in the marketplace. I agree, there is a lot of really poor quality books which is targeted to the consumer market, and does not really cut it for professionals like us who are a lot more discerning when it comes to paper and print quality.

First Impressions – 8/10

First Impressions of the website is that it is indeed a quality product, with nice bright images and a few different types of albums. I decided to try the Little Black Book, but they have ones which are a lot thicker and more traditional. I decdided to go with a 6×8 album, which is one size bigger than the entry level 5×7 album. It cost me US$35, ($30 for the album, $5 for shipping). They are very insistent on the quality of their paper stock, which there are two types. One is the Fuji E-Lustre, which is similar to that of a high quality photo stock I use to print my enlargements. The other is a metallic film which they use to print metallic prints. I decided on the lustre print just so I can compare it to my other albums I already have. The website is very easy to use and creating an account was a piece of cake.

Making the Album – 9/10

Making the album was very easy with their software built into the website. All you have to do is upload your images (depending on your upload speeds, it could take you all day), select your album type, how many pages and away you go. From there, you can choose the type of layout you like, from very simple one image per page layouts, to very elaborate and contemporary layouts. It all depends on what you are after and if you want a classic or modern look. You can lay the images across the entire page, which is called a flushmount style in photographic terms, which give your images a real professional look. I really liked how you can select how many images you want on the page, how many portrait or landscape images you want, and the software has pre-designed layouts which you can simply drag and drop them into place. Simple. It even tells you what images you have used so you don’t double up accidently.

Ordering and Shipping – 10/10

I could not fault the efficiency of the ordering process, it is extremely quick and easy to do, and it gives you a good indication of when your delivery will arrive. You can choose between standard delivery, or express. I found the express option to be really quick, and I can’t even fathom how quick express be. Let me give you an example. I placed my order on the 10th of March. Two days later, the order was processed and complete, and was ready to ship by the 13th March. On the 15th of March at 7.30am, DHL knocked on my door and told me the package was here. I was not expecting it until the next week, but it arrived from the time of order to delivery a total of 5 days. I have never seen production of albums so quickly. I imagine there would be a whole factory of Chinese people making my albums very quickly. It is hard to believe they can knock something out so quickly and ship it after 2 days of production.

Packaging – 8/10

The albums arrived in a courier bag , and inside was a black cardboard box which looked a little old on the outside, but when you open it up it is packed nicely with foam on the side to protect it from impact. Each album is wrapped individually in plastic. Adequete but not over the top like i’ve seen other companies do.

Album Quality – 8/10

I was really excited to open up the plastic and see what the quality you get for $35. The black cover was well made with a textured matt finish. You can see the texture in the image below

It is quite firm, but it will need to be treated with care as it’s not completely solid like a larger book. It is very minimal but that’s how they intended it to be.

Opening the book you can see that the paper has a cardboard core in the centre, which does not bend very easily. This is where the Artisan State albums differentiate themselves from the rest. It is not a single page rather it has some body and stiffness to it.

It even sits on the table without assistance.

Opening up the book you can see that the images are printed right to the edge, and the quality is excellent. The paper they use is photo quality, and you can see the texture of the photo paper.

The binding is also of good quality.

It even sits flat on the table when you flip the book on its spine.

Flipping through the pages, you can see that quality is surprisingly good. The print quality is up there to professional standards, but I don’t feel that it is as good as the best wedding albums used by professional photographers.

Overall Impression – 8/10

It seems like the claims are true, and Artisan State has achieved something that is of remarkable quality at a price that is unbelievable. For $35, you cannot get an album of the quality that you can see here. I often think how they can produce an album that quickly, and at the quality that they do at the price they charge. They must buy the paper by the bus load, and pay their workers in Zimbabwe Dollars instead of Chinese Yuan, but I really don’t care how they do it, I just care that they provide the consumer with a excellent alternative to what is already out there. I found that the current offering of consumer targetted albums were not of good quality and did not satisfy the needs of the professional photographer. I guess the question is, would I use Artisan State to replace my Queensberry albums for my weddding clients, despite its quality and price? No, I would’nt as I feel the quality is great, but it’s not up to standard to a professional wedding album maker. It may be suitable for a small parent album, but for the main album that a couple would be proud of for the rest of their lives, it just simply isn’t even an option.

I feel that the Artisan State albums would be great to showcase your favourite travel images, or a family portrait session. It showcases your images on photo paper with a bit of substance between the pages. It would do the job fantastically at a price we can all afford. I’ll take two please!