Prints or originals?

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Dear Artist,

This morning Pam Haddock of Sylva, NC, wrote, “Our art association is in a quandary. One of the requirements of our well-attended and successful group shows is that all work has to be original, with no reproductions. We make an exception for photographers. Now some of our painting members want to keep and enjoy their own originals and are busy making giclees. They want to show and sell them. Some club members don’t want this. I can’t see what the fuss is about — it seems they’re reproductions just like photos. What do you think about having prints among our originals?”

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“Odell’s Barn”
watercolour 14.5 x 11 inches
by Pamela Haddock

Thanks, Pam. With the low cost and easy availability of giclees, this question is rankling a lot of art clubs these days. While preciousness of original art is a factor, there are many reasons for duplication, not the least of which is the potential extension of financial return. Further, some artists are getting the idea that their art is worth more if it is reproduced. I’ve noticed that this concept works for some artists and not for others. I’ve also talked to disappointed potential buyers who were sad to report an overabundance of prints. “Do these artists love painting, or do they just want to capitalize on it?” they ask. Somehow, there’s still something pure about an original.

While some clubs continue to disallow reproductions, some others are in the throes of a print epidemic. There’s a happy middle ground that tests the waters for both: Exhibit prints and originals in two distinct areas of the venue — and have them clearly marked and advertised as such. Print seekers will move to the print section, while the purists will go to the originals. If the show is nicely balanced, with no great shortage of either, club members can observe the current tides.

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“Sequoia Lake”
watercolour 20 x 15 inches
by Pamela Haddock

Another solution is for a club to make print access available to all members. An ensuing show can be all reproductions. This can actually stimulate some interest in a community that may be weary of art-club events. Further, it permits artists to access and print from better originals that may already be sold and out in the community. While it’s understood that artists continue to own the copyrights to their work, unless they have sold the rights separately, owners are often, but not always, pleased by the compliment.

Best regards,

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“Balsam Mountain Preserve”
watercolour 29.5 x 19.5 inches
by Pamela Haddock

Robert

PS: “They’re building walls faster than we can make original art to go on it. Reproductions are the answer.” (Kiff Holland)

Esoterica: The ongoing problem with ubiquitous reproductions is what to do with genuine prints. Some folks do engravings, serigraphs, stone-lithos and other handmade, limited-edition works of art. I, for one, don’t like to see traditional print-art being marginalized, and mechanical reproduction has gone a long way in doing just that. This is one of the reasons dedicated printmakers tend to avoid clubs. Putting up a sign that says “Genuine prints — this way” won’t cut it either, unless you feel a donnybrook is needed for club publicity.

 


Digital artwork as one-off prints?
by David Hallowell, Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine
 

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“Sunrise Sail”
digital art on canvas
by David Hallowell

What if a print IS an original? This sticky associated problem stares me squarely in the face now. Owing to my lifestyle, travels and my fascination with technology, I have begun to do almost all my paintings on a computer! I work in several programs, including some fascinating Fractal programs, but primarily in Adobe Photoshop. Some of the images I have created are all hand work! A cordless mouse is my brush! Other pieces depend heavily upon technology. I often have my works printed as Giclee prints on canvas, of course, and recently have been working on a series of what will become Giclee-on-canvas paintings that I plan to sell as one-off originals! I really mean I will not make more than one! I believe this will make the original more valuable. I would greatly appreciate advice from you and your community about how to regulate this so it can be authenticated and the buyer can be sure it is what the seller says it is. I worry that there is a greater potential for counterfeiting in digital art. At first I thought that I would place a fingerprint somewhere on the canvas, but one advantage of digital art, namely the portability of the image, is lost thereby. If I send a canvas across national boundaries I need to get some locally recognized art expert to allow it. This costs me a good deal of time and money. I prefer to find qualified partners to receive the piece, digitally transferred on the Web, and print it near the customer or at least near the gallery.

 


Giclee vs. original print
by Sallyann Paschall
 

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“Ulinawi”
monotype print 18 x 14 inches
by Sallyann Paschall

I am a printmaker and painter who also makes reproduction prints of some of my work. If I have prints and reproductions in my booth together, I have developed a spiel to explain the difference between the two. And the price is very different. Also, I have developed a certificate of authenticity for each work that delineates the work as being a Giclee (a reproduction of an original) vs. an original print. Recently, I made a print of an original monotype and have signed Giclee after the edition number, for example “2/30 Giclee.” If that doesn’t signify that it is a reproduction, I’m not sure what would work. I view the whole thing as an educational opportunity. The ethical problems arise when the buyer is not fully informed about what he is getting. And PLEASE don’t tell anyone that a reproduction will appreciate in value! It won’t.

 


Giclees falling short on watercolour
by James Lange, Colorado Springs, CO, USA
 

While it’s true that Giclee printing certainly is an amazing technology, I have to say that it never quite captures the true and very subtle nuances of watercolor landscapes. This is especially true of glazed passages, where the print often leaves the image looking a little “flat.” After making a few printers angry and defensive, though, I’ve learned to keep these critiques to myself and just go for the best capture I can get. In the end, there is nothing quite like an original, and perhaps that is exactly as it should be.



There is 1 comment for Giclees falling short on watercolour by James Lange
 

From: Matthew H. Owens — Jan 27, 2011

Watercolor is one of the hardest mediums to reproduce. From what I have found, a Cruse Fine Art scanner does a much better job in capturing the subtile color transitions that give the feel of realness to a watercolor print. In image capture, a gentle even light source is critical to get a great capture. I do prints for a Navajo Artist who is famous for his watercolors, Baje Whitethorne Sr. I believe that it’s the capture along with our ability in house to have very fine tonal control that has enabled us to produce watercolor prints that according to him are better than anything he has ever had before. The system also allows us to produce fabulous images of chalk pastels that have all the look and feel of the original, down to the look of the particles of chalk on the paper.

 


Prints hurt credibility
by Raya Geisler, Santa Fe, NM, USA
 

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“High Hill”
oil on paper 24 x 18 inches
by Raya Geisler

I used to sign contracts with print companies (Poster to Giclees) and I admit those royalty checks are lovely, even if they are getting smaller as the years go by. However, beware Technology has grown so completely. I’ve declined all print offers after I found a reproduction of one of my canvases at a T. J. Max store for $25. The truly sickening thing was that they had managed to reproduce my hard work of texture-making; it looked as though I had painted it! It wasn’t some brushed-over glaze on top of the print, but an actual surface texture (and color) reproduction. The past few years I’ve begun to work directly with galleries (instead of art agents) and having prints out there has hurt my credibility. I recently had a canvas returned to a Gallery because the buyer had taken it to her Framer who told her it was a reproduction! I am currently reinventing myself… Be very careful of the print seduction; if you must, then control all aspects of it yourself, or find a way to paint faster.

 


The bright side of prints
by Brad Greek, Mary Esther, FL, USA
 

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“Got A Bite!”
acrylic on canvas 20 x 16 inches
by Brad Greek

I am a firm believer in reproduction prints for several reasons. The obvious is the residual income that can be put in place long after the original and the artist is gone — part of the legacy to leave behind for the artist’s family. Also, it is another market to get your image out there as an emerging artist. There are, however, some drawbacks to the going trend of today, and that is the homemade prints on non-archival capability printers that are flooding the market. To have a Giclee made at a print shop, it can get very pricey, which can get the print prices just as pricey. This competes with most emerging artists’ pricing of originals on the lower end of the spectrum. And the high-end reproduction Giclee print market is suffering at the present time for many reasons, which has turned a lot of artists to printing their own lower-cost prints. Having my originals scanned for prints were my way of archiving the image for later use if need be. I, too, have learned a lot of pros and cons of the market since I started. One of the hugest issues is the numbering of the limited edition print. With Giclees being printed on demand, it’s labor intensive to keep track of what number you are on. I suggest leaving them as open editions unless you are going to have the entire edition printed at one time.

 


Capitalizing on our creations
by Dar Hosta, Flemington, NJ, USA
 

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“Cobalt Night Tree”
Giclee print 16 20 inches
by Dar Hosta

Well, I love painting and I want to capitalize on it. What is wrong with that? We live in a capitalist society, after all, and I, for one, am tired of the implied attitude from some of the public that artists should simply enjoy what they do and not expect to get a respectable income from doing it. The US film writers were fighting for a measly 3% of a big Internet market while the guys at the top probably thought they were lucky to have writing jobs in the first place! This is my day job and, despite the fact that I receive no health-care, no sick days, no paid vacation and no pension, there are still those who will romanticize the “starving artist” stereotype when it comes to their attitudes about what they will, or won’t, buy. Furthermore, I would like to dispel some of the attitudes that artists and club leaders have about reproductions. This elitist attitude toward originals only is just that: elitist. It means that only one person can have the art and I think that is unfortunate, for the artist and the world. And, frankly, if anyone is paying attention to the economy here in the US, they need to get realistic and see that, unless they are catering to the top 5% of our population, things in the middle are not so good and not many people currently have disposable income for original art. Giclees have nothing to do with hand-pulled prints and I don’t see them being competitive at all. I have my own digital studio and sell high-end, archival, limited edition Giclees of 300 and the truth is that if I didn’t, I’m afraid I’d have to find a new day job. My customers have never complained.

 


Sharing a labor of love
by Karen Schweitzer Fleenor, Seattle, WA, USA
 

Over the years I have talked to countless artists about opportunities, such as recognition and residual income, which open up when they publish their work, be it self-publishing or through a company such as mine. But mostly, I love the artist who has the desire to open up a secondary market for their work with the sole intention of getting their artwork into the hands of more than just the “qualified” few that can purchase the original. And that’s exactly it… there are only so many buyers that are qualified to purchase originals. It’s about sharing their labor of love with more people. In all my years of publishing, considering I have worked with hundreds, if not thousands of artists, I have never had an artist call me and say “selling prints has hurt the sales of my originals.” But I have often heard that the recognition gained from the smart production and distribution of prints (I say smart because done incorrectly publishing can have negative consequences) has well outweighed any perceived risks from being reproduced. Now… in the end, it’s really the gallery owner that is the most afraid of the print business. It won’t hurt the artist’s business, but they do have a perception that it hurts theirs. But that’s another story.

 


Printmakers’ art and Giclees
by Bruce Winsor, Denver, CO, USA
 

The printmakers’ art is a venerable one requiring as much skill and artistic sensitivity as the making of original paintings and sculptures. The artist’s skilled hand and decision making are key at every stage of the processes of etching, lithography, silk screening, block printing, etc. One only has to think of such great printmakers as Goya, Rembrandt, Zorn and so many more to realize that a print is far more than a mere reproduction, but is a work of art in its own right. In sharp contrast, a reproduction such as a Giclee is little more than a high quality photograph of a work of art and, while it may be beautiful and may provide some of the less affluent members of our world with access to wonderful images, they are not, in themselves, works of art. Although the photographers’ and computer operators’ skill are critical to making good Giclee reproductions, all of the artistic decision making has occurred in the original being reproduced. I think as artists we should be careful to distinguish between the art of printmaking and reproductions such as Giclees, both out of respect for the artistry of printmakers and to avoid misleading the public. By the way, I am a painter, not a printmaker, so I have no financial axe of my own to grind.

 


The value of original art
by Louise Francke, NC, USA
 

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“Ring Necked Pheasant”
original artwork by Louise Francke

Being a North Carolina artist who has curated and exhibited in many shows in this Triangle Area, I feel that art exhibits should be limited to originals with the exception of photographic and computer art. People come to an exhibit to see original art. The artist can always say on the price sheet that limited edition Giclee prints are available. Personally, I have found in the past few art exhibits the blush has come off the Giclee print. People currently want to buy the real thing and not a reproduction which could possibly be an unlimited production. I know computer artists who will only have 5 Giclees made of a particular art work. In this manner, they limit the flooding of the market with a particular print. It should be made clear to the buyer that a Giclee is nothing more than an archival photographic reproduction; it will never increase in value. If anything, an environment without air conditioning and humidity control plus direct sunlight will take its toll on the print and decrease its value. As a print maker, I have felt the pinch Giclees have put on my prints. People are not knowledgeable about differences between limited editions of handmade and hand-pulled prints (etchings, lithographs, monoprints, monotypes, drypoints, etc.) vs. the mechanical, potentially mass-produced, Giclees.

 


Photographs are not reproductions
by Linda Mann, USA
 

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“Antique Suitcase and Vase”
original oil painting18 x 28.5 inches
by Linda Mann

As a photographer, I have to respond to this to correct some misconceptions about my medium and what constitutes a reproduction. Sylvia was quoted as saying reproductions are not permitted in her art show group but exceptions were made for photographs. Many people who are not very knowledgeable about various art mediums think photographs are reproductions, but I was surprised to see an artist and art group member thinking that. Every photograph is an original, always has been, always will be, no matter what the printing method. I know some painters have a problem believing this, but that is the way it is.

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“Greek Vase and Onions”
original oil painting by Linda Mann

Also the word “Giclee” is terribly misunderstood and misused, often as a synonym for “reproduction.” It is simply a made-up name for an ink jet print. If the Giclee is made as a copy of another original piece of art, it is a reproduction. If the Giclee is being used to describe a photograph printed digitally, it is an original. I feel a need to educate regarding this term. I wish people would stop using it, since it creates a lot of confusion. An original is an original and a reproduction is a reproduction, not necessarily a Giclee, but it could be. A printed photograph, printed darkroom or digital, is still and always was an original unless, of course, it is reprinted in another medium such as a newspaper or magazine. I hope you will write a letter about this. Your forum would be a good place to educate many people about all this.

 


The printmaking community educates
by Amie Roman, Burnaby, BC, Canada
 

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“Stop! Crow!”
original print 6 x 4.5 inches
by Amie Roman

As a printmaker, and an active participant in the printmaking community (both online and locally), I strive very hard, along with my fellow printmakers, to educate about prints and printmaking vs. reproduction prints. I have found that the worst response tends to come from other artists: For traditional printmakers, the concept of the reproduction is not new — after all, lithographs, serigraphs (screen prints), and even block prints were regarded as “cheap” reproductive, quick and dirty methods of creating an image multiple times. Yet in all of these printmaking methods, there is a physical process involved where an artist, or craftsman (or team of craftsmen), working under the guidance of an artist, directly manipulates a “plate” of some kind (wood block, limestone block, silk screen) to create an image which is then transferred, one at a time, to a support. I just can’t justify mass reproduction where machinery does pretty much all the work as the equivalent of an original print method. Printmakers take great pride in the craftsmanship and skill required to master their chosen print methodology. On top of all of this, printmakers are sick and tired of having to qualify their term “print” in an effort to distinguish it from “reproduction.”

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“Catching Rays”
acrylic on canvas 10 x 20 inches
by Amie Roman

On the Wet Canvas! printmakers discussion forum, we have had many long rants about the “print vs. reproduction” topic, as well as what to call an “original art print,” which seems so cumbersome. After lots of interesting opinions, no one has yet come up with a particularly good alternative. Branding is everything, as it were, and printmakers need a really good ad agency to help us rise to the occasion! I do understand the economic benefits to reproduction of original art, and I’m not trying to imply that there isn’t a place in the art market for reproductions; after all, not everyone can afford an original Emily Carr. But perhaps opportunities to provide art-lovers with small gems of original art should be encouraged (with ACEO/ATC as a great example), rather than resorting to the quick fix of the reproduction. And original print art can be one of the solutions to the economic quandary: by their nature, and by the public opinion that anything in an “edition” must be worth less than something that’s one of a kind (even though each print requires equal effort to create in order to be considered acceptable to be included in an edition), original prints are usually very reasonably priced, and it’s often easy to find “shrink wrapped” versions for an even more economical choice.

 


Making margin for all media
by Barney Davey, barney@barneydavey.com
 

I believe there’s room for art at all price points and media. Why not find a suitable way with suggestions such as you offer to make everyone happy without being exclusionary? How can more relevance and importance be fairly placed on reproductions of photography as opposed to Giclees or digital prints? Even if such decisions seem logical to some club members, I doubt consumers would agree. While it may not be the case, making exceptions for photographers creates an inconsistency that could potentially make clubs appear they are run by elitist amateurs. Seems like it ought to be either or without exception. Because I believe art buyers are sophisticated enough to know digital prints can be perfectly reproduced endlessly, I strenuously argue having limited editions of them is purely for marketing purposes, which ultimately reflects negatively on the art market. Likewise, I believe most would perceive the double standard in decisions to allow only certain types of reproductions and would not think more highly of the club or its shows as a result. Reproductions offer so many benefits; it’s hard to deny incorporating them into an artist’s array of offerings. Especially for those artists who seek to make a living from sale of their art. The precedent for artists using prints is centuries old from Rembrandt to Picasso and Warhol. And even with new technology allowing prints to be made more easily and creating some problems in the process, the greater benefit is it democratizes art in ways that lets many more people who love and want the art to own it. More importantly, it frees artists by allowing them to self-publish as never before. I would take that freedom for the inherent problems that come with it any day. Print-on-demand is changing not just art, but music, book publishing, photography and other formally rigid, exclusive marketing and sales opportunities for artists of all sorts. As a successful self-published book author, I say let’s embrace the technology, not stifle it.

 

 

World of Art Featured artist Katie Hoffman, Denver, CO, USA  

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Market day

oil painting, 16 x 16 inches
by Katie Hoffman, Denver, CO, USA

 

You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013.

That includes Amanda of Western Australia who wrote, “I’ve found it more productive to call my prints linocuts, woodcuts or etchings rather than fight for distinction against reproductions. What’s in a name?”

And also David Rodman Johnson who wrote, “Art creates an aesthetic emotional and spiritual environment… original art, an original human creation. Think of musicians who are battling the same issues by NOT recording their work, and only playing to sold-out arenas for ORIGINAL one-time experiences.”

And also Grace Hill who wrote, “You use the words ‘print’ and ‘reproduction’ interchangeably. I was always taught that a print is a litho, mono, etching, woodcut, etc. and is an original… A copy of a painting is a reproduction.”

And also Beth Deuble of San Diego, CA, USA who wrote, “For those who wish to sell Giclees, advise them to get a blog… they are cheap or free and many will allow a PayPal button.”

 

 

Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Prints or originals?

 

 

From: Rick Rotante — Feb 21, 2008

“Giclees”- Those French. They have a way with a phrase don’t they? My cynic-radar is working overtime on this one. Who started this craze? Why is it so important for artists to – all of a sudden – have to make “giclees” of their work. It’s become a cottage industry all its own. You’re almost stygmatized if you don’t consider converting your work into “giclees.” That word falls trippingly off the tongue doesn’t it?. That word is everywhere. What happened to prints? At some time in history, prints became a dirty word. No one sells prints anymore? I guess we had to come up with a better way to cleanse our minds and we rehashed prints into “giclees.” I know! I can hear you all now. “Giclees” are not prints. Each is an individual hand touched piece. No two are alike. The artist puts his/her individual “mark” on each. Each is unique. Well prints were unique after you put your signature on it. This just seems like another “scheme” to camouflage prints into something “new and improved.” An artist friend was approached to supply “giclees” to a gallery. He has to pay for the printing, frame it (in this case) and ship it to the gallery. The gallery takes half of the sale price. 50/50. Anyone see anything wrong with my math? Since the artist was approached by the gallery, why doesn’t the gallery pay for the print, frame it and ship it to the client. 60/40 in the artist’s favor. Afterall, it is his work they are making a profit from. Again and again. (by the way the gallery’s only overhead is a website – no actual gallery exists.) Am I blaspheming here? Am I mentioning the unmentionable? Unless you have a ready market to sell these “giclees”, you better watch out they don’t put you in the poorhouse. They aren’t cheap to produce. If you don’t do your homework, your “giclees” will end up in a pile next to all your unsold prints. I’m all for new marketing ideas for artists to get their work out to people, but between us artists, they’re prints you touch up by dashing some paint here and there. The market is flooded with “cheap” prints. For those who want to keep their work for themselves, stay home and let other artists sell their work. For me the original is still the one and only. Good luck to everyone selling “giclees” or prints. Really

From: Charles — Feb 23, 2008

It’s not just the cheap art sold at discount prices that is the real issue here. We all know when we see a discount priced painting that it isn’t fine art. But when someone claims to have painted them themselves, that can be called nothing less than fraud and deception. The real tragedy is that the fame and profit is gained at the expense of sweatshop laborers who work 18 hours a day 7 days a week and make less than $30 per month. These Chinese painters are talented and work hard but receive no credit for their work. They live in dormitories and are slave labor in every sense of the word. Fair Trade is not even a consideration in these imported fakes. The con-artists who import, sign and sell these paintings as their own are taking the art and becoming known as some of the most talented artists in America. Typically an imported Chinese painting will cost about $50, of which the factory worker receives about half, while the so called American artist is getting $5000. The way I look at it is that if it’s sold as a Chinese paint over print, then great. And if someone is crazy enough to pay $5000 for it, then that’s up to them. But to perpetrate fraud and deception is not only morally wrong it could be illegal. The scam artist I bought a painting from is the Featured Artist at the most well known International Spiritual Center in Culver City California. I can only hope that the Reverend and his staff are unaware of the fraudulent practice which is lining the walls of the sanctuary.

From: Frank Armistead — Feb 25, 2008

This is an interesting and very timely discussion. I am in the process of becoming and emerging artist and would like that to include some income. I’m finding that whether one approaches sales of originals or sales of reproductions, the first obstacle is a high front-end cost. One needs a high number of originals. One struggles to find a show or gallery that accepts any but established artists. If your works are going into shows or galleries, they need to be framed. The artist is likely responsible for transportation. Gallery percentages are high. There is no guarantee for any sales, and a sale of a percentage of the work will likely fall far short of your overhead. To market reproductions means going for volume, and good quailty reproductions are expensive. To sell, they also need to be framed, and the artist needs a marketer or one’s own sales space. Starving artists are not a myth, they are a direct result of the marketing system.

From: Consuelo — Feb 26, 2008

It appears that the number responding to your piece about Prints vs Originals is strongly defending the position of prints over originals. Could it be that the silent majority has not weighed in on this debate?

From: Jane Champagne — Feb 26, 2008

Rick says it all. I don’t do prints, never have, never will, giclées or other. My energy goes into making the painting, not reproducing, framing, transporting, negotiating and giving my work away to greedy dealers. I have made a decent living this way. To me, all reproductions, no matter how they’re made, cheapen an original. Anyway, Giclée translates into “spurting” — do you really want your work to be spurted? Sometimes a sense of humour helps.

From: Hugo — Feb 26, 2008

I face much the same situation as David Hallowell in his letter at the top. There are no easy answers. Just as when I started painting, I had to make my choices – and later my work becomes defined by them, so it works when I work in a different medium. I have, for personal reasons started to take my daily sketches to the computer, scan them in and redraw them using software tools. The giclee prints that I print, UV coat and sign in limited editions are digital originals. It is up to me to keep track of the numbering, where each went and to protect the digital fire. I maintain control by framing the work and price it so that the frame is about half of the value. Have a look at byHugo.com and let me know what you think. And yet, as to giclees not gaining in value I have different experience. I am in the process of selling a giclee (a print of an original) that I bought for $800 (framed) ten years ago for over $8000. There is a lesson in why that is possible.

From: Marg Millard — Feb 26, 2008

I think Frank Armistead said it all. I love to paint. I am new to selling my work but to continue to paint I have to have some basic materials. I am a poor (no money) artist although not quite starving at the moment things are very tight and to get supplies I have to sell something……seems a viscious circle. I am middle aged, self taught, can’t afford but free lessons and let me tell you the free lessons on internet and books from the library, are mana from heaven. I am just starting to make home computer prints of a couple of my latest paintings into a basic card and will include a very plain envelope and hope I can sell a few and be able to put that money toward the computer ink and paper…right now I would paint on the barn door if need be. What I want to know is am I ruining any future hopes of being taken seriously should someone deem my work worth a second look?

From: Suzette Fram — Feb 26, 2008

Unfortunately for print makers, the word ‘print’ has come to mean any form of reproduction, whether giclee, or print from a home printer, or even a laser copy from the local copy shop. While we can’t dictate what artists call their reproductions, from a club standpoint, hand pulled prints, which qualify as original artwork, should be labeled as such, and all mechanical copies should be labeled ‘reproductions’, not prints. That would go a long way in differentiating them. The most important thing is that the buyer knows what he is buying. A ‘giclee’ is still just a reproduction.

From: Sandra Donohue — Feb 26, 2008

My preference is to show and sell original work, but I have reproduced a few of my watercolours. I was in an artist’s gallery during a show when a client approached the artist about buying one of his framed reproductions. His answer to her was interesting, in that he suggested that she would be happier owning an original, and to put some money aside each month until she could afford one. This artist had no problem selling originals or reproductions and I was impressed that he could sense the client’s true feelings and have the confidence and patience to wait for her to purchase an original. I do have a problem with the vast numbers of framed reproductions seen in all the retail outlets. The public sees so many reproductions that are referred to as “prints”, that they start referring to anything framed behind glass as a “print”. I think that this is one of the reasons that I sometimes hear people say, “I just love your prints.” The public really needs to be educated, and our job is obviously cut out for us!

From: Liz — Feb 26, 2008

My message to Marg Millard is as follows: the painted image is unique to the artist as well – the creation of the painting is not just the material it’s painted in, as we all know to our mental cost! So why not sell repros of our work? In addition to that thought: I prefer to sell a repro to someone who has loved one of my paintings but cannot afford the original, than to someone whom I dislike (yes this has happened!). Also the print can remind a person of an enjoyable exhibition.

From: Ian — Feb 26, 2008

It’s been said already but bears repeating – giclees are not automatically reproductions. If I print one of my photographs on an ink jet printer – and that is really all giclee printers are – it is an original. It seems that the use of the term to mean reproduction is specific to the US – I certainly don’t find it being used that way in the UK. The only time I have had my digital paintings printed as a so-called giclee, the printer could not match the quality of my Canon printer at home. At the time the term came into use the only inkjet printers available to most of us were poor quality and giclee served as a useful differentiation. High quality printers are now available at reasonable cost and the term has had its day. Unfortunately a lot of people are still spreading myths.

From: Esther J. Williams — Feb 26, 2008

I believe giclees are getting a bad rap because too many of them are produced. I have produced them but not by the yard. I bought an expensive Epson Stylus Pro which uses archival inks too. I spent thousands on supplies to make them, but I haven’t printed them for a year, the inks are so expensive. I also believe they should be considered originals as they are in a similar process like photographs. I spend hours upon hours adjusting the image on my computer just like a photographer would adjust his original image shot. I print so many proofs to get it exactly right or even better than the beginning work of art. Adobe CS2 and 3 have so many widgets to increase the enhancement of the image shot, it’s amazing what they can do to re-invent it into a finer piece of art. I painted the art, the photographer did not paint the scene he/she shot. We both borrowed the image from nature most likely. But when I try to place a work like this into a show, they won’t hang it stating that it is a reproduction. So, I will hand augment the giclee in acrylics to further the fact that it is original. This is being done widely in upscale galleries. Giclees are considered derivations of the original which is not an original according to Webster’s description of derivation. So, it all depends how you complete the final product. I think hand augmented giclees by the artist should be regarded as more worthy and originals in their own right. I know of an artist whose original works are upwards of $20,000 to $60,000, his giclees are only $8,000 and people who love his work can only afford them and they are tickled pink to own one. There is room for everything in the art world. I won’t quit trying to argue the fact that my giclees are original, but I quit trying to put them in my local community gallery. I don’t want to fight about it, I live for peace, I just wanted to state my mind.

From: Tatjana M-P — Feb 26, 2008

It appears that we need a new term for a painting where you put a blank canvas on the easel and make a painting using just your brushes and paints. That may be an easier thing to define and name than all the variations aided by technology.

From: Laurie — Feb 26, 2008

I think the word “print” should be reclaimed by printmakers and repros should be called…yes…..”posters”. That’s what they are. I see people paying $350.00 to get a repro framed while the actual paper it was printed on is worth 2 bucks. I have also been alarmed to hear people claim proudly that they have a real piece of art and they know so because it is signed and dated. They are not educated and that will always be. They should be allowed to pay little for a poster as long as they are aware it is just that, a poster…as for expensive giclees, expensive posters on canvas. I realize artists should have the opportunity to make repros and have a cottage industry if they like but they shouldn’t be part of marketing that exploits the ignorant and demeans actual printmaking. I have my images reproduced on greeting cards. People know what they are getting that way and my originals are not devalued. I remember a time when you would purchase a Van Gogh Poster from a show or gallery. You would thumbtack it to a wall if you couldn’t afford framing. Repros have become elitist in their own right.

From: Cynthia Nelms-Byrne — Feb 26, 2008

Reproducing art, when there is so much good original art around and so many terrific artists, seems ridiculous to me. When I paint something, I want it to be one of a kind, and whoever buys it to have something that no one else has or can have. What ever happened to that notion? I feel like the Lone Ranger with my viewpoint – I don’t even have a Tonto or a Hi Ho Silver among most artists I know. Guess I’m behind the times…

From: Barbara Callow — Feb 26, 2008

Make sure that you have a market to sell those “giclees”or even open edition prints or you will just be throwing your money away. A poor painting is always a poor painting and maybe we artists should put way more of our time into just painting a great painting and forget the retouchee giclees or whatever…

From: Doug Mays — Feb 27, 2008

Cynthia Nelms-Byrne you are not alone. Check the statement at the bottom of my website www.arrowsinthequiver.com, it is what I believe, it is what I promote. Thank you Kemosabe.

From: Brad Greek — Feb 27, 2008

I’m going to have to agree with Esther Williams here about what is the difference between a printed out digital file (photograph) and a printed out digital file of a Painting. Photograghers have to have something they need to call an original and with today’s technology of the printer, that becomes their original. When in fact the original is actually the digital file or possibly the image in which they where looking at when they snapped the picture. Our digital files are the exact same thing and when printed out are the same “product” as the original photograph. A giclee is a giclee whether the file comes from a camera or a scanner. The true artist of the giclee is the printer/ computer operator who has the skills to color balance the “print” from the printer, to the original. I believe that the true printmakers are the ones with the most right to complain here. It has ruined their market with the confusion and overwhelming amount of images out there today. It’s all a tough business. I also believe that if everyone were selling their reproductions as they printed them, that there wouldn’t be any complaints about what they are called. And everyone here would be making them.

From: Dar Hosta — Feb 28, 2008

I think that what is clear here, from all the many and varied responses, is that artists do what they have always done: find their niche market and cater to them accordingly for their own success and happiness. I would venture to guess that many of those artists who scorn reproductions have never explored them in depth (either by investing in the equipment and/or marketing and selling them) or have done so unsuccessfully. Furthermore, as a publisher, books are, technically speaking, “reproductions” too. What would we artist think of every VanGogh, every Picasso, every Monet, being one-of-a-kind, only to be bought and looked at by one person. What about all you art teachers out there who hang the classic artist’s posters in your classrooms and offices? Why should only one person be allowed to lay eyes on the beautiful images of the people out there who make them in order for them to be “real art”? One of the things that this brave, new technological age brings to this new generation of artists is COLLABORATION and the notion that art, be it YouTube or online public “galleries,” is for all to see and experience. Certainly anyone who subscribes to this newsletter or posts on this blog can understand that. Make your originals or make your reproductions. What works for you is what works for you. It doesn’t make anything better or worse. But, I would add, that technology makes it all easy to try if you change your mind.

From: Sam — Feb 28, 2008

Giclees, canvas, silver halide emulsion ie, photographic negative or paper, electronic display… all the same thing. Computer, brush, camera, lump of charcoal, again, all the same thing. The tool we use to help manifest that idea from our minds to the outside world…. and the medium which we choose to display or present that idea. I paint with oils, I shoot with a film camera (B/W), I shoot with a digital camera and I paint and draw using the computer. There is NO such thing as an original Giclee, there is such a thing as an original IDEA. Which as visual artists means an image. Other people call their ideas music, sculpture, technology, novels or architecture. It is the image that has the power to move you, good art, regardless of ‘how’ it was made or how it was ‘displayed’ will always sell, because good art touches us in ways we cannot express in any other way. It communicates something straight into our hearts and minds. This is what we forget as the paintings/prints become commodities themselves while the idea gets left behind. Good art could be printed on toilet paper and it shouldn’t matter, but we as humans have this need to grip tightly to our ego, we want our legacy to live long beyond us, either by the artwork we create or the artwork we acquire, and increasingly purchases are based on the medium upon which the idea is presented. If it didn’t matter we wouldn’t care if an ink jet print faded after 2 years or whether an oil painting cracked and yellowed with age. We have this need to hold on so tightly… all is impermanent, even art, long after the Giclee is dust ideas will linger… So what do people pay for? The idea or the object? I’d rather communicate the idea and reach thousands, even millions, without anyone ever having to own the ‘original’. Get your ideas out into the world people where they may do some real good! Educate your audience that it is the idea they are buying, not the paper it is printed on. Unfortunately a lot of art isn’t worth the paper it is printed on Peace everyone

From: .com “Sonja” — Mar 21, 2010

I am greatful to find this website and to have access to so many

artists and their experience with marketing. I have painted for

many years but am just now getting into the “frey” if that is what

it is!!! I will be looking forward to your newsletter, thank you so much for being there Genn …and God bless you real good! Sonja

From: sonjagrinstead@gmail.com — Mar 21, 2010

Thank you for your newsletter, GennI appeciate the vast experience of

these artists and their marketing strategies and direction! How can I go wrong with this mega input!? Your a prize! …Sonja

From: sonjagrinstead@gmail.com — Mar 21, 2010

Thank you for the opportunity to tap into the vast experience of

so many artists, and thank you for the free newsletter, I look

forward to reading it.! Sonja

From: Natalia — Mar 30, 2010

I created my first giclee when the buyer of the original harrassed me everyday to buy it and price was no object. I didn’t want to sell it but decided if I liked the Giclee, I would keep it and sell the original. I was amazed at the richness and quality. Now if I do a piece I know will go, I do a Giclee for myself. And if others want it, I am okay with that. The painting was still my idea in the first place. Have fun whatever you do.

From: Dr. Ron Unruh — Apr 05, 2010

A woman recently saw a painting on my website that she liked and asked whether I have a print of it that she could purchase. I told that I didn’t and I also suggested that the prices people pay for some prints are as much as I ask for my originals. She considered that for a few days and bought my painting. Perhaps if and when I graduate to higher prices per painting, a giclee might be justified for potential collectors with modest discretionary $$.

From: Mike — Feb 06, 2013

Technology is changing the world at an alarming rate,the values forged in a different time have to be changed,like it or not.

Anyway any artist must admit that some of their work is more successfull than other pieces,how much better to sell a few of your very best pieces than just the latest attempt or experiment.This is the new way.

 

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