Saturday, May 17, 2008

Weekend Chat Line...Limited Edition or Open Edition ?

...The Chosen One...

I struggle with this question with every drawing I do. In my frustration, trying to figure out how to do this, I've done a lot of reading. It seems that there is a growing trend by some artists to eliminate Limited Editions all together because of the new "digital" era...feeling that the word limited no longer applies. I understand totally where they are coming from.

There was a time when "prints" were made by using a plate and after the "edition" was finished the plate was destroyed. Today artists use the "giclee" method for creating their prints...some are using a "print house" and yet others, like myself, are "self producing". The word "limited" is self imposed and at the discression of the's no longer a limitation of the printing process.

I guess, at least for now, I've set some guide lines for myself...but I still question them. In the beginning, every thing was a "Limited Edition". Today however for the market I'm in, (which is more to the "low end" of things) I am tending to offer more and more Open Editions. The other things I take into consideration is whether I did the photography and how popular I think a print will be... asking myself, do I think it will do better as a collectible or will it be more attractive to the person "decorating" their home?

This means that I'm offering what I think will be my most "commercial" prints as "Open Editions"...and this is what I'm questioning most.

So I ask you: What guide lines do you use when deciding whether to offer a particular piece as an "Open or Limited Edition"? Do you produce your own prints on demand or use a "print house"? And lastly, what is your opinion of eliminating Limited Editions all together as some artists are now doing?

The "Chat Line" is open...I'm anxious to here what you have to say. And as always, please feel free to comment on what others have to say.

Hope you're enjoying the wonderful weekend.


Website ...Marsha Robinett Fine Art
My Squidoo ...Drawing Techniques


Terry Rafferty said...

Interesting question, and it will be interesting to see the answers. Has Empty Easel ever done a survey on this?

Personally, as an artist, I don't do any prints. I may in the future, but for now I prefer just to do the original.

As a buyer: either I want to own the original, or would prefer just to have open editions - I don't think the value exists anymore in the Limited Edition concept - it used to be valid when printing options were limited and inexpensive prints looked like cheap posters. Today though the technology allows for exceptional quality in inexpensive prints.

Teresa Mallen said...

Hi Marsha,

My own research has revealed what you have discovered - that Limited Editions are a thing of the past and that artists are now creating Open Editions. And yes this seems to be a direct result of the technology now used to create prints.

Having said this, I believe this is very much a time of transition for print making. Giclees have been around for quite a while now but there are still artists who don't know of this process, not to mention the public. And while the 'cutting edge', front line artists are leading the way in Open Editions, there are many artists that have been producing Limited Editions that will not be changing the way they do business.

It is the buying public that I would be worried about. People that I have talked to are hesitant to embrace Open Editions as they perceive value in Limited Editions. It would seem that art as an investment is only part of the equation. Buyers are concerned about the print they are about to buy being everywhere. As one woman said to me, she wouldn't want an Open Edition print as she wouldn't want to see it "all over the place".

So, what to do...well ultimately do what you would think would be best for you. Both ways of doing things are still being used so I don't think there is a wrong way to go.

You could do both, i.e. offer some of your work in Limited Editions and some in Open Editions. This could be a way to have different pricing levels for your art.

Perhaps offer your Limited Editions at a higher price. Even though the same technology would be used in the print making, the buyer would be paying extra for the perceived exclusiveness of a limited print. As well, they would be paying you for the cap you are putting on your income. Once all copies of Limited Edition prints are sold you would limit yourself to not producing anymore.

Then it would follow that your Open Editions would be priced lower (you probably wouldn't have to lower the price too much). This would be a win for the person who doesn't care about Limited versus Open, they just want to buy one of your prints. Obviously it is a win for you because if this image proves to be a good seller, then you can keep on producing prints of it as long as you want. You could also pull it off the market for a few years and then reintroduce it later.

Open Editions make sense if you selling your work on-line as it wouldn't matter so much to Joe Public if someone in another part of the country owns one. He isn't likely to run into it "all over the place". And again, you of course are not limited to the numbers sold.

I am about to get some prints made of some of my originals. As per the above, I will probably start by offering both. I shall monitor the response and adjust my methods accordingly.

Christy DeKoning said...

Hi Marsha,
I've only just recently started offering prints, and I have them printed at a local graphics shop.
I've gone for limited edition, with the number set at 100 to start, but these are just ACEO sizes. I feel if I sell 100 off the original ACEO I'll be very happy indeed.

But as a customer, personally I don't care how many prints are out there - if I like it, I'll buy it.

Love your pear by the way. I finally bought some carbon pencils a few weeks ago but I've yet to try them out - I'll be sure and let you know when I do.

Marsha Robinett said...

Hey Guys
I was hoping for more input on this as I've had several emails asking this question. It looks like "Open Editions" are winning out for the moment.

As I said earlier, I'm still offering some LE's for 2008 but may not in the future. My thoughts on this subject are the same as you.

I think for the most part LE'S have lost some of their importance. And in my case, other than the (#) that appears on each one, the paper and the process is the same. They look identical...and are identical.

Thanks so much for your's always great hearing the views of other artists. There is no better place to learn. In some cases...the best "College" education we can get!!

PamYla said...

I agree that limited editions sounds pretty disparaging. I like the sound of open editions much better, this pear looks meaty and ready to eat!

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