Sunday, September 2, 2007

Originals, or Prints---The Great Question

Hello Everyone,

Here we go again, a letter needs to be written, I might as well get it done.

I just read an editorial style article at the EmptyEasel site criticizing limited edition prints, saying their artist/publishers were being "a bit snooty and egotistical" and concluding "there's a prestige there". (Dare I continue?) Sure, why not.

I think the major downfall in the article theory happens right up front with the statement "First of all, why do limited prints even exist? ...the original idea was to make art buyers feel that they had put their money into some sort of investment..."

Ahem: any art buyer who is serious about investment buys ORIGINALS!

Let me be the first (or at least, the next) person to inform the writer of the "prints" article that a print is NOT ART, it is a COPY of art, a reproduction, or if you really want to get nasty, it's a fake!

I love when artists who sell prints use the story that they are making art affordable to the masses. Just before I started writing this I did a quick search under "daily painters". Yup, right there on my computer screen, up pop some pretty cool paintings, REAL paintings, ORIGINAL oils on canvas board paintings, ORIGINAL acrylic paintings on canvas, ORIGINAL pastels on paper, REAL drawings made by the real artist's hand (as in contrast to printed out in quantities by a machine) We all know how much of the artist's emotion comes through the print from that machine, eh?, but that's another story. So back to my quick search---I think we need a drum roll here---I found paintings starting at $29.95. I found one at $39.95, and I didn't spend all that much time searching. I found lots of original art at the 100 dollar mark.

When was the last time you went to a summer art festival? You know the kind with the white tents set up in a park, just about everywhere all summer long? There are paintings there too, original paintings, and some of those artists more advanced in their careers do charge more for those originals. BUT as I was exhibiting my paintings this July at Krasl Art Fair On The Bluff, I had the privilege to be right across the sidewalk from a younger artist, just starting out on her career. She had stunning abstracts done in oil, on canvas. She had several paintings at $80.

So "making art affordable to the masses" is not a valid reason for prints of any sort. Let's be brutally honest here, prints, limited or otherwise of any artist living in this day and time, are made so the artist can SELL MORE. It's about money, not the patron's money, it's about the artist's money.

With that said, I am fully cognizant that an artist has to make a living too. But let's ponder this thought: how many paintings (I'm talking real ones here) would we sell if there were suddenly no more reproductions?

The aforementioned author of the "prints" article concluded her thoughts with the statement "I want to keep my images affordable and available for as long as people want to buy them. And there's nothing wrong with that"

Maybe there is something wrong with that. There are lots of paintings, real art, out there waiting to be purchased, and they come with all sizes of price tags. There are tons of people out there waiting to purchase art and their checkbooks/debit cards come in all sizes too. Maybe we need to work a little harder at marketing our original art.

Enough said. Have a great day!


1 comment:

Ben Rowe said...

Interesting Post Cooper,

I would argue that prints are an easy way for the masses to buy a peiece of art from an artist that they admire. There's no way I could afford an original piece by someone like Mark Ryden, so if I wanted a piece of his art, a print is the only real option.

But I do agree that there is something more special about an original piece of work.