Photo Books to Avoid

Artisan_1cropIn the category of photo books to avoid, I would include Artisan State’s photo books. According to Artisan State,  The Photographer’s Photo Book is flush mounted, affordable, and lay flat. It is available with various cover options, has library quality binding, and is made with real photo paper.Artisan2_crop

Unfortunately, “Every page is mounted on rigid PVC sheets [sic].” PVC decomposes over time and is a poor choice of materials when it comes to long-term preservation. It is also environmentally unfriendly. See Effect of PVC on Imaging Materials for more details on this material.

Artisan State does do one thing that I really like: ” Every page receives protective coating to protect against unforseen stains and spills [sic].” Now if they would only get rid of the PVC…

p.s. Artisan State should also run a spelling and grammar check on its web site.

Note added 9/18/2014: It looks like Artisan State has discontinued their use of PVC (see Green Substrate Vs PVC); however, the customer service and other quality concerns remain.

Note added 4/25/2016: Artisan State is now Zno.


About Mark Mizen

I have over twenty years professional experience in all aspects of photography and digital imaging. I am Chair of the ISO WG5 TG2 committee responsible for physical properties and durability of imaging material and am currently with HID Global working on systems for security printing for IDs, licenses, and credit cards. Previously, I was Director of Digital Development at Creative Memories from 2009 to 2012 and was responsible for the Creative Memories digital products and services. I also established and directed the Creative Memories Technology Center, which evaluated new products prior to product introduction, assisted with production difficulties, and provided technical information to support product sales.
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29 Responses to Photo Books to Avoid

  1. Cathy says:

    Thanks for the info!

  2. Laura Townsend says:

    Hey, Mark…know anything about Utah Print Solutions? Apparently, Panstoria is beginning to print through them in September…so likely a source for us CM people. Would love to know if you know anything about their quality.

  3. Mark Mizen says:

    Sorry, but I do not have any information about products from Utah Print Solutions.

  4. Pingback: More Photo Books to Avoid | All About Images Blog

  5. Pingback: Panstoria Photo Book Review | All About Images Blog

  6. Molly Johns says:

    Can you recommend several companies that offer photo books that would get your stamp of approval? I recently read your critique of Panstoria & learned a lot. It seems they got relatively good reviews. Is there anyone out there who’s better? Perhaps in a range of cost options, if possible. Thanks in advance.

  7. Mark Mizen says:

    I am sorry but I do not have information on other photo book manufacturers. The information that I do have is posted to All About Images blog.

  8. Samantha says:

    Thanks for letting us know.. Was almost about to buy one!

  9. Doug says:

    I got the same issue with Artisan State and wonder if they are cheating to get my $400.
    After receiving the sample 8×8 albums and the test prints, I was so happy with the manufacturer’s sample album quality just like everyone else and went ahead to place the orders for 2 more albums 11×14 and 12×12 on Sep 17 with priority 5-7 days but 3 weeks passed already, the status is still in production. I broke my promise with my client and looks real bad. Regardless how many emails I sent, they don’t borther replying me just keep silent and their phone never has any one answer. Update: Someone named Joe finally replied after I sent many emails saying that he never received my email (?!) and promissing will ship albums soon. In general, very very terrible customer service.No way to get a hold of them. So much frustration. I will never order anything from them again. I am losing money. Stay away Artisan State. Don’t be cheated by their sample albums. Find somewhere else so you can be worried-free. They have built up business this far how can they ruin their business like that or is this a scam? Let’s Facebook people know about this fact.

    • Mike Lao says:

      Same experience with me! i missed my wifes wedding day present because of them. No communication that there was a “delay” until i messaged them. they replied 6 days later to an email.

  10. Jenny says:

    Be warned: PROFESSIONALS STAY AWAY FROM ARTISAN!! If you are into cheap and quick, but poor quality, then go with them.

    Their print quality is okay, but their craft skills are very very poor! Talking about precision on bleeds and margins that are so different from my screen proof preview to the real product.

    Very poor customer service! Doesn’t matter if they put all the nice words on their website.

    I’m a non-US client. At first, I bought their Little Black Book just to test, my order came pretty quick and somewhat satisfy me with their overall quality (again not great build/craft, poor precision, but okay print).

    Then decided to have a 2nd order for a larger hardcover album with a presentation box. They came pretty quick, about 2 weeks. My nightmare was about to begin… the presentation box looked nothing like their picture on the website (good job on fooling clients away). The box I received has a very very…poor quality and clumsy craft! Both inner sides are not fully covered! Very much, looks like an unfinished product! Cloth strap doesn’t hold the lid open, like what they put/said on website. Hand stitching?? No way! The box looks like a lower-end-mass-produced product from a China factory.

    I’m so disappointed, I emailed them about this issue, but never heard back from them. All I get is an automated email reply.

    So they are promising a ‘budget’ but stylish albums, to me that translates as: “If you have problems with our products, do not bother to call us back…because we have been paid so cheaply that we cannot afford to attend to your problems!”

    ‘Nuff said! Stay away from them!

  11. Dong says:

    I lost my customer because of their horrible customer service. Of course, I lost my business then Artisan State does not have business from me. My mistake when I picked them for an important event. So furstrated, waste of time to follow up with them. Note: this business does not even have a physical address. They have a phone but never pick up to answer and an email but no reply most of the time so you have no way to get a hold of them. A business with out a verified physical address is quite risky that I missed it when checking out their website. Make sure you pay with credit card, not debit so you can get money back.

  12. Mike Lao says:

    Artisan State

    You guys are extremely un professional. If you guys want to be a “big company” you guys need to work on customer service. 6 Days to reply to email, no attempt on communication about delays, ignored customer concern. At this point i don’t recommend them to anyone. Extremely disappointed with this company. Take note people.

  13. Miranda says:

    I personally tried them out, and I was very impressed with their LBB. The print quality was excellent – a touch high on the reds but I’m extremely picky – everyone else thought I was insane lol. I had the book in 7 days. I decided to order proper sample albums that I designed and they are on their way to me. I had two major issues during the upload process (I design using Pshop and InDesign using their templates) and they emailed me back within 24 hours, once within the hour. I found them to be helpful and apologetic. I am hoping now that my albums get here in time and are the quality of my LBB, otherwise I will be going back to my other printer.

  14. Brandon says:

    Artisan State has the worst customer service ever! I called them 10 times a day for 7 straight days. I left a voice message every time I called (about 10 a day). I also sent out emails to them 5-6 times a day. Never one reply from customer service.

    After 15 days of my books and product not being shipped I had my bank issue a dispute on the charges. This finally got the company to wake up and ship the items to me but there were major quality issues. Books were over-saturated in printing. The text on the spine on some books was centered in my design but when it arrived it was way off center and the cover was wrapped wrong. (If I can attach video and pictures I would).

    The company does not list their physical address on their website or anywhere online. NEVER DO BUSINESS WITH A COMPANY THAT DOES THAT HAVE A PHYSICAL ADDRESS. It appears they are a china based company with a facade that US photographers and designers founded the company and run. Don’t let that fool you. It is all run out of China. The Chinese culture is known for not holding up to committed dates and not caring about good customer service.

    I did some research and found some of their company email address outside of the one listed on the website. When you have problems contacting the company be persistent and send emails to all these addresses. (Noticed that my DHL Tracking info for my first order came from this email address) When the company would not reply to me I decided to try mail2, mail 3, mail 4 and so on. Emails successfully went through to mail1 – mail4.

    My last order will be just that. I ordered a total of $2,200 for clients to give as Christmas gifts. The charge to my card was from Hong Kong. My bank gave me the number that the company lists with the transaction. It was an international 852 area code number. I tried calling and it was a non existent number.

    Tried filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. They have no record of this company existing in the U.S.

    Beware of this company!

  15. J says:

    Very disappointed with this company! Their customer service is terrible. I am not a professional photographer, however I came across Artisan State online while searching for companies I could use to have a professional looking photo album of PROFESSIONAL images made from a photographer. I had major issues with my photo book sample, the skin tones turned out literally orange in the book, and that is NOT how they were in the original professional images. I had to email them three times and place calls before even getting a reply and they kept dodging my concerns and dissatisfaction with the book. They do nothing to help you or correct the issue at hand and quite frankly, they are rude. I had the same support individual, “Joe” as someone else stated above, and this person was extremely rude and unhelpful. I will never waste my time or money with this company again. I can’t imagine being a professional photographer and utilizing this company for clients. I am simply a paying customer with professional photos that I wanted to put into a nice album. I wanted something a little more special and of higher quality. I would have used them again due to their prices being reasonable (considering I’m not making wedding albums for customers) and the overall look of the books is nice, but it’s not worth the discounted prices to have to deal with the problems and headaches, and the horrible customer service that goes along with their lacking quality. I wish I’d have read all the bad reviews of this company before investing. Lesson learned!

  16. I’m a professional photographer and would echo the thoughts on terrible customer service. A glitch in their website caused me to order 2 books instead of one as a prototype. I contacted them, not so much to refund one book, but to refund part of the shipping since they mailed both books together but still charged me full shipping on both books. I received an email back that was both unhelpful and rather mean. I’ll never use them again.

  17. Pingback: Like Doesn’t Mean Like | All About Images Blog

  18. CJ says:

    Hi, I’m not a photographer, but I’m looking for advice on a good place from which to order a wedding album. I have the JPEGs from our photographer and I’d like to design an album and order it from a place that will give us a high-quality album. I was looking into Artisan State, but after reading this thread, I’m a bit scared to go with them. Has anyone had more positive experiences with them recently? If not, any other recommendations?

    • use Shutterfly. The books are good, easy to design and there are great deals on them.

    • GB says:

      I just recieved my Artisan State album today and I must say I’m very impressed! If I was to be picky, on a couple of the centre pages I can see a slight pink line but when I looked at it when I took the album home from work I couldn’t see it so not sure if it was anything to do with the lighting? I’ll have a proper look in the morning to see if I can see it in natural light. Overall my experience has been more than great! I created the album using theirsimple software which you can save and amend at any time. I ordered it on 27th Sept at night time and it was ready the night after to be shipped! The album was shipped from China and arrived this morning in the UK. I’m shocked with how fast it has came as the estimated time was between 8th – 13th! I did read a lot of good and bad reviews about this company but decided to go ahead as the prices are so much cheaper than others and I had seen a lot of examples of there books online. It was well worth the purchase for more than half the price. I ordered the 10×11 genuine leather book, thick pages and presentation book to finish it off. Good luck hope this helps.

  19. If you want to see examples of absolutely stunning books and albums you have to check out
    Their albums are of the upmost quality. I have never seen anything to rival them. If you are a professional when nothing else will do, then Queensberry are for you.

    NB: I am in no way affiliated with Queensberry aside from being a really happy customer!

  20. Hello House, I recently used Artisan State for a photo book and my experience was totally opposite from the above feedback.

    I ordered 2, 8 x 11, thin pages, flush mount books on 19 August and they were delivered to me in Nigeria on 24 August. To be honest, I couldn’t believe it. In my mind i kept telling my self – ” I hope these guys haven’t ruined my books”. THEY DID NOT.

    The books were FANTASTIC, shipped on time, delivered to me on time and now my client has not stopped saying wow.

    Maybe they have improved their services, maybe I was lucky, but I certainly cannot recommend them enough.

    PS: One issue though, the free trial “little black book” they gave the first time users have not arrived, even though i ordered it a week before the client books. I have no idea what the issue is regarding that.

  21. Ally says:

    All the ” who not to use”. Can anyone make a recommendation for who to use for a novice user trying to make high quality photo books? TY

  22. Atiq Mir says:

    We have used Artisan State fairly regularly. Our clients love their books, however, the lack of spell checker in their software has cost us $300 worth of books to be discarded. One time we caught the bad spelling 2 hours after placing the order but they refused to cancel the order because you can only cancel an order within an hour. Needless to say, we are looking for another publisher.

  23. heidisoto says:

    I called last week to informed them the order of my book was not correct. after talking to Evelyn which was very rude on he phone. Finally, they did a reorder for the same book. They never gave a time frame for this album, emailed them many times and finally pick up the phone to see what was going on. Evelyn again was very rude and hang up the phone when I was talking to her because she decide not help me. I’m very disappointing on their quality of customer services!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I will not be recommending this company to anyone else…. and I hope Evelyn gets fire

  24. Rhonda says:

    I haven’t used Artisan, but I have used to find all sorts of photo albums and scrapbooks for clients and they focus on archival quality products.

  25. Angie says:

    Zno is a TERRIBLE company with absolutely ZERO customer service and their photo books are GARBAGE!! They are refusing to give me a refund on a book that they completely screwed up. I would NOT recommend this company to ANYONE!

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