Earlier today Mondo put on sale the first wave from their Avengers series. Captain America and The Hulk posters by Phantom City Creative and Ken Taylor were on sale for less than 5 minutes. I sat at my computer and refreshed Mondo for about an hour and a half. So when you read this know that I am completely bitter and pissed off, because I inevitability I did not snag a poster. I might be slightly bummed out at the moment but I think there are some disappointing flaws with the way Mondo works and is a disservice to artists.
For those who aren't familiar, Mondo commissions posters from artists and usually has screenings of the films where they give away a print with admission price. In recent years Mondo has become incredibly popular with their series of Star Wars posters, amongst others.
Mondo is an incredible group who really helped to encourage poster art with more than just a few floating heads and title. That service should not be overlooked. As well as employing phenomenal artists.
When Mondo sells a poster they give usually a few days warning on when the poster will be on sale. What they don't say is when they will be on sale. It is always said to be on sale at "a random time." They also have a very limited quantity of around 300.
Artificially creating the scarcity of posters is not done on accident. Mondo is trying to create value to these works of art which is a great idea but in practice ends up not being fair to many consumers.
Many like myself sat around for hours today, refreshing the Mondo page in hopes to snag a Captain America or Hulk poster. Not all of them weren't planning to frame the beautiful art to be hung on their wall and be admired. Many of these posters end up on eBay for those lucky enough (or using more nefarious means) to get a poster. That is, if they are able to order one at all. In my efforts today I had the Captain America poster in my cart and checking out before the official Mondo tweet went out announcing the sale. I was in, I thought foolishly. After waiting for the page to load through the shipping calculation screen, I was knocked back and told that the posters were out of stock.
There doesn't appear to be any outward desire to fix this horrible ordering process from Mondo. Placing an item in your cart does not secure your spot. And the massive load on their servers ensures you won't have the same experience as other users putting you at a disadvantage just based on geography. But that's all just part of the game right?
Getting back to the eBay trolls. There are already about 25 listings for Captain America posters and likely many more when they actually ship in a few weeks. The going rate on these eBay listings is about quadruple the $45 asking price. How much of those extra earnings does the artist see? None. I'm mostly just selfish and want an Avengers poster but I'd also like to help out these very talented artists, and not eBay squatters.
It would be impossible for Mondo to stop posters from ending up on eBay. Apple can't stop the dozens of Chinese immigrants from lining up for the new iPad only to send it back to China on a mark up. But there are bigger problems going on in the world right? Most definitely, but this is one that's happening to me right now and it's bringing my whole world down! Slight hyperbole there but here are my suggestions to fix this problem.
The easiest of these fixes would be to just get the server problems in line. I heard many complain on twitter that the servers are slow and that now getting a poster is a "gamble." The ordering process still sucks but it might level the playing field. Updating that ordering system couldn't hurt either. Like some ticketing sites, adding an item to the cart will start a timer, giving you a limited window to make your purchase before your reserve is forfeited to the next in line.
Mondo could employ a similar model as TeeFury.com and offer as many posters in a predetermined window, hopefully longer than 4 minutes. That would break their vision for infusing value into these works of art right? Absolutely. But how about offering a limited amount of numbered prints on premium stock and then non-numbered prints for chumps like me who just want something for their wall.
I'm of course pretty miffed that I was screwed out my order. And likely I'd be praising Mondo from here to next Tuesday if my order did go through but I do think some of the issues I've raised should be addressed. If not for my own selfish needs but to benefit the artist and even Mondo so they can keep doing amazing work. Either way I call of a competitor to Mondo to at least give them enough competition to care.