Devin Walker welcomed us into his home, nestled at the end of a curving drive in a small housing community in Lawrence, Kansas. Outside the house looked like many others on the street. Inside, his home burst with color, personality, loads of original art, two pianos and countless guitars.
On his journey to being an entrepreneur, Devin joined the military and immediately knew that it wasn’t the life for him. He didn’t want to be told what to do, what to wear, what to look like. After the military, Devin ventured into the dotcom world, worked for a record label, designed Websites, but fundamentally knew that while he was gathering skills and knowledge, this manner of work didn’t make sense to him. He was tired of helping make other people rich. He resigned from his job, enjoyed a few months playing golf and then launched PrintPop.com.
Devin Walker, CEO of Printpop, in his home office standing in front of two of his own paintings.
Printpop is an online company that allows unknown, undiscovered and emerging artists to upload their original artwork and share it with the world. The company prints, packages and ships digital reproductions of the artwork, allowing artists to keep their originals and access a larger audience for selling limited edition copies.
Devin conceived PrintPop in 2001, after a friend asked him to send her a picture of one of his paintings. He emailed her an image, but wondered if he could send her a large print reproduction. He looked through the Web, but found no sites that would allow him to upload his original artwork and make a quality digital reproduction. He began to take notes and approached some venture capitalists. After a few meetings, he took a look at his personal finances and took a leap of faith to do it on his own.
Coming from the very high cost of living in San Francisco, Trent and I were amazed with the large and affordable housing we saw as we crossed the Midwest. Devin sees his geographic location as a key factor in the success of PrintPop. The city of Lawrence fosters its artist community, and the local government supports small businesses. Devin’s own cost of living and doing business is much less than on the coasts.
PrintPop is now thriving and growing. Active artists on PrintPop hail from 43 US states, 7 Canadian provinces, as well as Egypt, South Africa, Russia, China and across Europe. In the last twelve months, PrintPop has seen 400% growth, much of that Devin credits to social media marketing.
PrintPop keeps it fresh and innovative:
- This year PrintPop will be rolling out a completely revamped site. Stay tuned!
- Art Star: A contest recognizing the top-selling artists. The winner will receive a solo gallery show hosted by PrintPop including entertainment and local PR.
- PrintPop makes its presence known by sending an artist look-alikes (think Frieda Khalo or Andy Warhol) to local art events.
- PrintPop has expanded to GiftPop.com
Devin Walker, CEO of Printpop, enjoying trading Hawaiian boyhood stories with Trent.
Next to Devin’s desk is a bookcase looming with tomes of business books, including The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur and Sex Money Kiss by Gene Simmons, a performing artist with an amazing American dream story. According to Devin, the Gene Simmon’s book is a must read. To quote the CEO of PrintPop, “All business books are essentially the same story: how to succeed. If you don’t speed, you’re never getting a ticket. If you work hard, you’ll be rewarded.”
Devin is confident this economic environment won’t break him. He sees himself as responsible for artists’ passions. He has built a community of artists that count on him. Printpop is based on getting artists recognition and compensation for their work.
In the end, Devin is one happy guy. He gets paid to do what he loves, for the coolest people on the planet – artists. Devin Walker is proof that you can be successful doing what you love and giving back to a community you care about.
An Intimate Portrait of the American Entrepreneur Project is sponsored in part by the automated marketing gurus at Infusionsoft
and is championed by the spirited zeal of The Toilet Paper Entreprenuer and TPEs across the universe.