The Question of Prints – To do or not to do….

I received a question today on whether to do prints of work, or not. My answer is this:

“I can tell you unabashedly that I am not a fan of prints, and quite bluntly, I believe that artists who do prints bring down the value of their work. Do I have substantiation for that? Not at all – It is my perception that artists who do prints “sell out” for the $$ rather than the intrinsic value of what art is.

Now some people do not agree and that is okay, but I will not do prints of my work – with the exception of photography, because the nature of photography is that there really is no original except what is on the camera or the digital card. Digital art, there is really no original except what is on the screen. For each of these, I do limited edition, ie 100 or less – usually 50, which makes it a true limited edition – not the Robert Bateman 25,000 limited edition, do you see?

But what about making your artwork affordable? Affordable – hmmm – that’s a kettle of fish. You’ve got on one hand, the people who really can not afford a work (but may be able to do a payment plan), or the others who don’t want to spend $$ on original art because they don’t see or understand the value. If you want to step in to the print market, consider doing work that is specifically FOR prints – leave your “serious” work untouched.

I believe that part of my role as an artist is to help people understand the value of original work – yes, you pay for it, but there is a reason it is costly. I believe that if you do prints, then haven’t you bought in to the idea that original art is not worth it?

Anyway – what I DO do, is small 4×5 or 5×7 advertising cards, postcards that have my name on them or that I use for advertising the studio or shows – I do nothing larger than that. These are postcards that some people do frame, or they give away as gifts. The cost on these is about 2$ or 3$ retail.

If you were to do prints, you need to justify it within yourself, without regard to what other people think. Do what is right for you, just as I do what is right for me. If someone asks then I am happy (lol!) to say what I think. But I can tell you that when people ask me if I do prints, and I say no, there is a huge sigh of relief – as well, you need to know that some galleries will not take you if you do prints. But again, you need to figure that one out for yourself.

There is no real right or wrong answer – it depends on what your end goal is, what your vision is for your work. Stay true to yourself, and do what you need to do, and no one can say anything that really matters.