Jun 11, 2007

Why Limited Editions?

My frustration at not being able to find prints I want from certain artists had made me question the whole idea behind Limited Edition prints. Why do we want those? I believe the original idea was to make art buyers feel that they had put their money into some sort of investment that would appreciate in value. But who likes art? Only people who look for financial investments? I think if you're interested in financial gains there are much better ways to invest money.

So who really likes art? Pretty much everyone. Art appeals to all human beings on some level. Have you ever entered a home that didn't have at least one picture on the wall? Unlikely. Sure, most of these people are not art connoisseurs or serious collectors. But should someone have to be in order to enjoy art? I'm not even sure collectors actually enjoy art. I had one buyer tell me that he collected so much art he had to keep much of it stored in boxes, including one of mine. He told me an original of mine he'd bought a while back was being safely kept packaged and stored under his bed. What?! Who's enjoying my art there? The dust mites?!

I've thought a lot about whether or not I want to get my art published as limited edition prints and I am pretty sure the answer is no. Yeah, I know, most artists would love to. Seeing their work as Limited Editions makes them feel like they've reached some level of success. There's some prestige about having your work in limited editions. And many people think that open editions and posters "cheapen" your art and reduce your ranking as a respected artist in the art world.

But that's what the "professional" art critics (and, sadly, many artists) think. But I don't paint for art critics. I want to share my art with everyday people, as many people as want to enjoy my art. The idea of Limited Edition (LE) is a bit snooty and egotistical, in my opinion. LEs are often beyond the affordability of everyday people. Especially when an artist becomes well-known their LE prints can cost more than their originals once did! LEs tell many people of ordinary means that they are not worthy of owning the art. Should I tell the dog groomer down the street that she is not worthy of owning my art because she is not a bank CEO? (And, considering anyone and everyone can get LE giclées made online these days I really don't think there's anything special about LEs anymore, anyway.)

One publisher I was with sold litterally tens of thousands of prints of one of my images. If that image had been a LE of only 1,000 how many people would not have that image now? Obviously more than 1,000 people wanted it. Why should I tell them they can't have it? No, I don't think LE prints are for me. I want to keep my images affordable and available for as long as people want to buy them. And what's wrong with that?

1 comment:

Carla Casanova said...

Hi, Crista!

Thanks for this piece. I first read it in emptyeasel.com. I am setting up a business that will sell giclee prints of artworks created by my friends. But I've been having trouble deciding whether the prints should be limited edition or open edition. I consulted with a gallery owner and she said prints should be limited, so my artists will be motivated to make more paintings. However, it doesn't really tie in with my vision for the business, which is to make art--specifically art created by young Filipino artists--accessible and affordable to as many people as possible. After reading your article, I know what to do.

Thanks again!

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