November 3, 2010, 5:01 PM helps shoppers create custom art from personal photos

And it’s launched a Facebook competition to promote the new service.

Lead Photo has launched a tool that helps shoppers transform their photos into wall art for their homes. It’s also created a Facebook contest to publicize the new service. is No. 100 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

The service, called photos {to} art, enables shoppers to turn their everyday photographs into large-scale, ready-to-hang canvas or custom-framed photographic prints.

To use the feature via the retailer’s e-commerce site, shoppers upload the photos they want to use and the tool inspects the image to ensure the resolution meets criteria for enlargement. If it passes the test, a shopper chooses if she wants her photo printed on canvas or photo paper, and then chooses a size, matting and frame.  

Shoppers can choose wall art sizes ranging from 8 inches by 10 inches to 42 inches by 56 inches.  Consumers can select from a wide variety of moldings and acid-free mats for pictures printed on photo paper. Photos on canvas are stretched onto 1.5 inch wooden support bars, wrapped with hand-painted black edges and covered with an anti-UV acrylic finish to protect the image from dust, moisture and fading, says. says it plans to soon offer the option to mount photographs onto acrylic or wood.

"Personal photographs can really help transform a house into a home,” says Andrew Wait, chief marketing officer of Inc.  "A great photograph starts with the image, but how it's printed, personalized and finished makes all the difference."

In conjunction with the new custom art service, has launched an America's Next Master Photographer contest on Facebook for photographers.

Through Nov. 12, Facebook fans can submit photo entries via's Facebook fan page. Finalists will be determined by an panel on Nov. 18, and voting will be open to Facebook fans until Nov. 29. will select finalists and 15 winners chosen by popular vote on Dec. 9 will receive their choice of a framed or canvas print of their submitted photos.

This isn’t the first time the retailer has leveraged Facebook for marketing programs. In April, the retailer tapped into the public’s tastes with a contest to identify new artists. Entrants posted their work on’s Facebook page and visitors voted to select one winner while a panel of design experts selected another. has been busy in recent months, not only launching new products but also entering new markets. In September, unveiled localized web sites in three countries: in Argentina, in the Czech Republic and in Turkey. Each of the sites is in the country’s native language and customers can buy items in the local currency. E-mail confirmations and communications from the international sites are also provided in the local language, says. says it posted record profits on sales of more than $140 million last year. A privately held company, doesn’t report comprehensive financial numbers. But it noted that it passed the 10 million customer milestone in December.

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