Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Why I Don't Sell Prints

Many artists sell prints and I am sure in the future I will sell them as well. For now however, I am caught up in the romance of original artwork. The argument of 'prints v. originals,' like any good argument has valid points on either side. From a business perspective the argument could go either way. Prints allow more people to see your work, building stronger brand recognition. The lesser price of prints allows more people to afford your work, widening your target market. 

However as artists we play the differentiation card. No artist can paint voluminously enough to compete with mass production. It is our individual viewpoints that inform our artistic processes, which end in unique pieces of art. It is the unique individuality that makes art valuable. By selling prints you devalue your work, saturating the market with inferior goods. Prints say that your work is not in fact rare, individual and not worthy of fetching a high price.

My personal opinion on this however, has little to do with my business education, and much more to do with youthful idealism. Glen Hansard, of The Frames and The Swell Season, talks about letters in a similar manner when telling stories about his songs on The Swell Season's album "Strict Joy." Glen talks about reconnecting with an old flame through letters.
"...letters that are made of paper, that are put in envelopes, that are licked and touched... A letter, you can tear up, you can kiss, you can burn. You can put it under your pillow. You can do other things to it. You kiss an email and you just get a shock on your lips."
It is this romance that I'm drawn to. I spend time with my paintings. I hold them in my hands. I ponder them as they lay unfinished on my desk.  What you receive when you purchase a piece of mine is something that I have held dear to me, something I have taken pride in and not made 1000 copies of. From this perspective prints seem impersonal. 

This all being said, I have just finished my undergrad education and am trying to get into grad school. I can not say that I am living off of my work. I have only sold a handful of pieces. Headstrong romanticism will not pay the bills. However,  I am nothing if not idealistic. I am a painter after all.

**Photographs and digital illustration are of course excluded from this argument. **

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