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Behind the Bubble: Digging into Products with Barry Newstead

Welcome to Behind the Bubble, a new feature on the RB Blog in which we pull back the curtain on the inner workings of Redbubble to find out more about the folks who make this massive art marketplace go.

In Behind the Bubble, we’ll be chatting with members of the product, content, marketing, customer service, and other teams to learn the ins-and-outs of this wondrous world and how each team plays an important role in bringing you the best experience, the best art, and the most inspiration possible.

With our newest installment, we caught up with New Business GM Barry Newstead who leads the team behind the launch of our newest products like duvet covers, throw pillows, tote bags, and more. 

If you have any questions ask away in the comment sections below and Barry will be responding.


Can you tell us about your background and how you came to Redbubble?

The short story…all roads lead to Redbubble, don’t they? The slightly less short story is that I have spent a good part of my life focused on work that helps people achieve their full human potential. When I turned 30, I started working with innovative not-for-profits to rethink ways to tackle important social problems, like access to education, racial discrimination, homelessness and mental illness. Trivial challenges like those.

After tackling the institutions like school systems and failing to change them, I shifted focus to the Internet. Rather than wait for systems to change, I figured it would be better to give people the tools via the web to change their own circumstances. I worked with some amazing innovators including Wikipedia, one of the world’s greatest resources for education. If you want to learn something, Wikipedia is a great place to start and it is accessible to a lot of people — billions. I joined the executive team there and focused on growing Wikipedia globally and on mobile. We did some really cool work, like create Wikipedia Zero, a mobile web service that we partnered with mobile companies to offer for free in Asia and Africa.

After moving to Australia in 2012, I met Martin (RB CEO) via a friend. Martin and I immediately connected on the ability for Redbubble to support artists to reach their full potential. I loved the mission and my experience fit well with what Martin needed on the team, so I joined in November 2013. My hope is that Redbubble will help many more artists earn the funds that allow them to spend more time doing what they love and the world values.

"The Journey South" by thepapercrane

So much has been happening with Redbubble, especially when it comes to new products, can you tell us about some of the highlights?

I have the pleasure of leading our small, but mighty product team as well as our global market development team, which is even smaller today.

The product team has been very busy, as I hope people have noticed. We got to work in January with a goal of creating a regular series of new products for Redbubble artists of different types to design for. We’ve launched nine new products since July: metal prints, art prints, tank tops (or singlets), scoop neck tees, racerback tanks, sweatshirts (or jumpers as they are known in Oz), throw pillows (cushions)tote bags, and duvet covers. If you are a Redbubble artist, I hope at least some of these products will get you excited.

The highlight products for me are art prints and throw pillows. Why? The art print is a really high quality product that fits the great work on Redbubble. At the same time, it is very affordable. I like ability to offer quality art on a quality product at a price that makes it accessible for anyone. I’d like to see us build our wall art business around great products at affordable prices…and you might have noticed that we’ve been adjusting our prices for some wall art to help achieve this goal.

Throw pillows are awesome. They extend the amazing art into a new area: home decor. Again, they make art accessible to more people in new ways. I was the first person to buy a pillow, but turned out my partner was a close second. She felt they would be a great addition to our living room too. We now fight over whose pillows get priority.

How do you and your team go about choosing products?

We keep it pretty simple: Is there a way to make a quality product on demand? Does that product respect the art? Will people buy the product? Will it be affordable for customers to buy, while maintaining a margin for artists and Redbubble? And importantly, would we buy this product ourselves? We need five “yeses” to go for it.

Is there a big vision for the Redbubble product team?

I can’t answer “no,” can I? Our big vision? A world that brings art into the every day. People wearing art, living with art, gifting art. Artists sustaining independent careers. Small businesses using new technologies to make-on-demand.

What makes Redbubble special?

For me, each time someone buys something on Redbubble, it is a special moment. A work of art is created. A person’s life is enriched by art. A small business makes and sells a product. And an artist has one more little reason to keep creating art. We had over a million of those moments in the past 12 months.

If you could give one piece of advice to a Redbubble artist, what would it be?

I’m no expert on creating art, but I do know a few things about the world of business. My one piece of advice for artists who want to succeed on Redbubble is that success will most likely come from your own effort. It is unlikely that simply uploading a work of art and waiting will bring you success. There is a chance that you’ll get lucky, but the best way to succeed is to find ways to get your work seen. These days, this starts on social media. Find people who are interested in the same things you are, follow them, and share your work with them. It might not be an overnight sensation, but will improve the odds of success.

A bonus piece of advice: Read the Redbubble Blog. Eddie and the blogging team have much better advice than I do.

What is your most recent RB purchase and why?

I just bought “The Journey South” by thepapercrane. Why? It is a lovely design, but there are so many lovely designs on Redbubble. It is really unique, but there are many unique designs on Redbubble. I can only say that I bought it because it spoke to me in a certain way that made me feel a connection to the art and the artists…and it’s always nice to know that I’m supporting an independent artist.

What is art to you?

I don’t think it is possible to answer this question without saying something banal. Prefer to leave you with my answer to #7…and another example of art on Redbubble that I’ve just bought, “Tribal” by Rose1122.

"Tribal" by Rose1122

Have a question for Barry? Ask away in the comments below.

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