Should I Sell Prints of My Artwork?

Anybody that knows me, knows that this has been a difficult question for me. A lot of people assume that I haven’t had prints because of the texture on my pieces. True, some piece have a lot of texture, but there are ways to capture that in a print out of the work.

No, it’s not the actual print that I have an issue with. It’s the process of creating it and the value of the piece to the buyer that matters to me. My work has appreciated in value over the last few years and I believe it will keep appreciating well after I’m gone. Now when it comes to prints nowadays, most of the prints you see in the common market are giclee, which if you read on will notice that it is nothing fancy.

So in order to explain why this has been such an issue for me, let me educate you on what a print is.

A lithograph is a print that is also classified as an original work, because the artist must draw directly onto a metal plate or a stone with a crayon or greasy pencil (printers ink is then rolled onto the image, adhering only to the drawn areas). This is a print that is created by the artist and there will be a limited number of prints that can be created by the lithograph. In most cases the lithograph is destroyed once the limited number of prints has been reached. This is why you get limited editions and why they will go up in value with original works, they simply cannot be recreated.

Serigraphs are engravings, linoleum cuts, woodcuts and silkscreen prints.  These are also viewed as originals when created by the artist. They also have a limited life span, thus limited prints are available.

A collotype, on the other hand, is a photo mechanical reproduction of a work of art, such as a poster. Collotypes can be done quite well, but they are a product of advanced printing techniques and are not technically considered art multiples unless you believe there is something magical in the mechanical process of printing.

A “giclee,” which begins as a painting before being photographed, scanned into a computer and then reproduced on paper (or on some other surface) by ink jet printer, is just that, an inkjet printed copy. These kinds of print generally have the least direct involvement of the artist who may or may not decide to sign and number the final results.

In theory, photo-reproductions should cost considerably less than other print media, although that is not always the case. This is what I was having a problem with. I’ve seen some prints sell for a lot of money and honestly there is no limitation to what could be printed from an inkjet printer. I understand that there is a process and cost to getting the photography or scanning of the painting. An artist also has printing cost and additional materials that will go with a print, this is understandable. An artist’s signature is also worth the value of the signature and could increase in value. But I cannot justify charging someone $100 for an 8×10 of a photo or scan of my painting that is printed out on a printer.

Then, one day someone said “I really wish you had prints because I love your work, I just can’t afford it.”

At that moment I realized that I don’t have to charge big money for my prints, that I can be fair and honest. So, I have duplications available online. Right now they are only 8×10 but I will be offering larger sizes in the future. These are all “Giclee” (which means “Ink Jet” Take a look at the Wikipedia article, it’s pretty interesting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gicl%C3%A9e.)

The art print market is an area rife with deception and misinformation. Collectors are sold “limited editions” that are limited only by the number of people who will buy them, and a wide array of price-determining terminology — “signed by the artist,” “numbered by the artist,” “artist’s proof,” “printer’s proof,” “limited edition” — often rather confuses than enlightens would-be buyers. The differences between kinds of prints are often brushed over by dealers anxious to make a sale.

Of course, not all prints are overpriced or dealers or artist all con-men, but it helps to know something about prints: How they were made, to what degree was the artist involved in their production, how many works were printed at one time, was the printing plate destroyed or can it be used again to print up more, who is the printer, have any other print editions been created of this image. These factors, plus the quality of the work and the renown of the artist, determine the real value of a print.

So ask questions if you are making an investment in art and know what you are buying. Oh, and buy my prints, they’re awesome.

 

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