Book Fetish

Customized Swag Made With Literary Digital Prints

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Sarah Hannah Gómez

Staff Writer

Formerly a school librarian, Sarah Hannah Gómez is a doctoral candidate at the University of Arizona, studying children's and young adult literature with a minor in social, cultural, and critical theory. Find her on Twitter, Instagram, and Clubhouse @shgmclicious

Guess what? I’m moving! This may not be exciting to you, but I’ve been houseless (I’ve been very deliberate on how to phrase this, because I am not socioeconomically or literally “homeless,” but I have not had my own home, i.e. one that I control, that I pay for, with my name on the lease) for more than a year and a half (#ThanksPandemic), so I am ecstatic to finally feel like an adult again!

My new place is hardly a mansion, and as I’m a renter with a low budget, I can’t exactly go all out with fancy furnishings, new paint, or major overhauls. But I absolutely need to put my mark on my new digs, and that means swag and decor needs to represent my interests and hobbies. My entire personality is basically just books, TV, fitness, and cocktails, but this is Book Riot, not TV/Fitness/Cocktail Riot (please hire me, owners of any of those sites!), so I’m going to tell you how I’m going about making sure my aggressive bookishness comes through on as much as possible.

So here’s the problem, though: lots of novelty swag is, well, novelty, and not everybody needs another T-shirt. Maybe you’re tired of generic end tables or throw pillows from Home Goods. I want bookish things, you say! I want something from an independent designer who shares my interests, not a faceless corporation, you moan. I have a book fetish, you cry! What do I do????

If you live in a small space like I’ll be in, and yet you have a large household’s worth of furniture and possessions like I have, you likely share my parameters: I cannot afford to bring anything else in unless it is functional, space-saving, or wall-mounted. I’m not much of a sticker person, pins are weirdly expensive (probably because shipping is not convenient), and like any reader, I own 32859702589 bookmarks, and all I end up using is receipts and gum wrappers anyway.

Custom furniture may run in the four figures, but custom furnishings and decor are more within reach than you might think. That means you can find new favorite bookish art and place it on whatever your home needs…legally, while supporting the artist. It just takes two steps.

Steps 1 and 2: Find Literary Digital Prints; Put Them on Some Stuff

The internet is a wonderful thing, my friends! That artist you found on Instagram? That picture book illustrator whose work you adore? See if they sell prints!

Uhh, Hannah, “prints” are on paper. How does that help me furnish my home?

Allow me to introduce you to digital prints! This is a genius way for artists to sell their work with minimal overhead and legwork, and it’s great for buyers because they can decide exactly what size and materials work for them. When you buy a digital print, you are buying the right to use it as many times as you want for personal use (not resale). Certainly you can choose to print the art on a traditional poster or cardstock, but you could also get more creative and do some custom homeware.

There are a number of sites that let you “design” products with easy-to-use interfaces and no required minimum order as for wholesalers. Those include CafePress, Zazzle, Spreadshirt, EazyWalls, and Teespring. Take the JPG you acquired from the artist, upload it to the custom site of your choice, and wait for the UPS driver to ring your doorbell.

Need ideas? Here’s a list based on customizable items I’ve seen on those sites, along with some of the prints and artists I have in my digital shopping cart.

Bathroom: bath mat, shower curtain, toothbrush mug, towels, liquid soap dispenser

by PMWatercolor on Etsy

Bedroom: jewelry box, lampshade, clock, duvet cover, pillowcase

From OnBookStreetPrints on Etsy

Living room: throw pillow, area rug, puzzle or playing cards, throw blanket, wall mural, removable wallpaper

by ZainabMughalArts on Etsy

Office: phone/tablet/laptop case, calendar, acrylic blocks (bookends, perhaps?), return address labels, mousepad, flash drive

Free at Library of Congress

Kitchen and dining: apron, tea towels, bottle opener, glasses, dishes, placemats, water bottle, coasters

From roksidesigns on Etsy

Outside: door mat, cornhole set(!), outdoor floor cushion

From WallArtInspiration on Etsy

Car: license plate frame, keychain, car floor mat, bumper sticker, air freshener, parking sign

From FoxandWild on Etsy

Pandemic essentials: hand sanitizer, face masks

From PsychedelicDoilies on Etsy

Enjoy your fully geeked out home, friends!