Limited editions.

Discussion in 'Presentation, Marketing and Exhibitions' started by JBrunner, Sep 29, 2018.

  1. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator
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    It’s my thought that print numbering is somewhat of an affectation. Serously, who sells out an edition of 500? I’m going back into selling prints, and the notion of keeping track of what number of print I’m selling just seems stupid at this point. At the prices I’m selling at a few dozens is the norm. I’m thinking of just signing and dating the back along with a studio stamp. From what I’ve experienced all serious collecters or commissions want is some authentication. Rarity seems to be in the nature of what I do anyway. Ten or a hundred is plenty rare without putting a number to it. I’ve yet to
    find two of my prints selling at the same time. Most of the time there are none.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Sign, date, stamp, sell. Unless you are Ansel Adams et al, why bother with numbering prints.
     
  3. guangong

    guangong Subscriber
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    All depends on whose pictures. One of my friends had high quality gravure of ten prints in an edition of 1,000 and they sold out in a month. Did this with two different collections. Now cost much more.
    I agree that numbering photographic prints doesn’t make much sense except for marketing. Numbering only makes sense if there is a guarantee that no more prints will be made.
    Makes some sense for etchings because plate will eventually show wear and how plate is inked can show variations, some desired, some not, so possible differences between #3 and #156.
     
  4. faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber

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    Marketing is important.
     
  5. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    This is how I do it here and may others I work with, I hope this helps.

    I assume that you have thousands of images to source from so the inventory of different images is not a concern. With that in mind a big edition of thousands of images is not only silly but not practical as in your lifetime you probably will not sell the edition or even produce it.
    I also work from the premise that any iteration of the image is a number of that edition.. whether it is a large print, a small print, and even different process.
    This is easy for me as I have settled down to pigmented gum over palladium prints and silver gelatin due to historical , visual, and archival reasons.
    Therefore I call it an edition of unique prints.

    In my case I consider the capture of the image the least creative part of the process . I am deeply concerned how the print looks and feels and I over the years have settled on a large project that works together and allows for many subsets, and within those subsets I have tried to expose enough objects to bring down my number of images of that subset to around 20 (average) some subsets work better for me than others.
    At this point I have within two large Projects. OBJECTS and an older NATURE I have got about 30 subsets with an average of 20 images that I really want to print.

    Doing the math , I have now have over 600 images that I want to print.

    I will make inkjet prints to evaluate the original film quality , and I have scanned all 600 sheets of individual film at very high resolution.
    Over the years I have gravitated to silver and for colour gum over palladium, , this is taking me years to print , but I am actually getting there and I
    am doing them in the subsets, but rather than all the images within the subsets I am concentrating on at least 6 per set.( this allows me to introduce in group shows new work all the time) which I feel is an important factor .

    I have decided to limit my editions to 5 prints of each so you can see I have potentially 3000 edition prints that I can work on. This may sound crazy for some here but I am responding to the OP's questions
    as clearly and honestly as I can.
    Doing it this way allows me to have mini shows of my work and people are starting to see what I do, I have sold prints and within some of the subsets a couple of the images are near the end of the edition.

    I do not escalate the price of prints when the images are bought, YET, I will start doing this when I have representation(multiple Gallerys ) that I approve of and like as well I feel at this stage I want to keep working and exhibiting so selling them at a fixed rate now is good as some do sell, and this money is put back into materials to keep working on the two large projects.

    Regarding pricing, it is my understanding that unless your work is selling for $5,000 USD it is not considered fine art. (please I am only the messenger here so no stones thrown please) . So with this in mind and the fact that I do not have representation , I have priced my prints, regardless of size or process at approx $1250 Canadian, If and when I get the representation that I want the price will double to $2500 per print to accommodate the gallery's fee.
    Is this a pipe dream, Not for me, maybe for others, it takes 10 -25 years to establish oneself as a viable artist that actually makes income from their work, I am willing to take the time and understand the slow process to get to the point I want to get too.

    All inkjets, test prints, prints that do not fit my expectations of final work are destroyed. when I finish a series I am destroying the intermediate film that made the prints, I am keeping the original film in safe storage in case of natural disaster happens to destroy my existing finished prints, I would then re print them .
    My trustee who is taking care of my will knows to destroy all the film once I am in diapers and not able to print any more. The only reason for this is that my printing style is so unique to me that I do not feel anyone could replicate my style of printing , as its not like pressing a button.
    I have never considered myself a photographer, I use photography to create the existing image but from there I move forward in a unique direction

    back of print information in the non image area
    signature, time of printing, edition 1/5 , type of print. all in pencil in the bottom

    Hope this helps in your quest for info.
     
  6. slackercrurster

    slackercrurster Member
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    OP, pretty much concur. I've only had a couple of institutions question me in detail about editions and how many prints are in circulation. I answered most are within 15 to 25 print range not counting letter size hand-printed artist's books.

    If you are in demand, collectors seldom questions this issue - it will not make or break the sale. If you want a Robert Frank from The Americans and can't afford a vintage print, you buy a modern print and are thankful you can buy it, no matter if editioned or not.

    If you are buying a $75 to $150 print I don't think it matters much. I did make some editioned portfolios, but only placed a couple of them. Thought they would be of interest to institutions but they were not a big success.

    Galleries came up with this. They price the first third of an edition at one price. Then as each third or half comes up the prices keeps rising.

    Here is an interesting oral history on how art galleries operated back in the 60's / 70's.

    https://archive.org/details/InsideNewYorksArtWorldIvanC.Karp
     
  7. jim10219

    jim10219 Member
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    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with keeping a print run limited and numbered, no matter how it was printed (by hand, inkjet, offset, etc.). It can add value, assuming the supply is smaller than the demand. But if the supply is higher than the demand, the limited print doesn’t add any value. It shouldn’t hurt it’s value either. But if you’re an unknown artist without a large following doing large runs, it might make you look a little conceited. Or it might make you look optimistic and confident in your own work. Which one likely depends on the strength of your work.

    I don’t limit my work. But it is limited in that I’d rather move forward creating new art than keep trying to cash in on past successes. I’m less interested in being a financially successful artist than in being a creatively successful one.
     
  8. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber
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    I say do whatever floats you boat. Personally I agree with the OP but i can see Bob's rational as well. Like Bob I don't consider myself a "photographer" these days. When I was shooting newspaper stuff or commercial assignments, that's when I was a "photographer". Now like Bob the negative is just the beginning and what comes out the other end is the art. Sure you can get all wrapped up in all that pre-visualization stuff but over the years I may print a particular negative drastically different depending on how it moves me at the time.

    In this respect I would not want to hold myself to a numbered series and this in my way of thinking constricts my artist progression with a specific image.
     
  9. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser
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    hi j -

    i understand the concept of editons but unless you are printing all the images at once i don't think
    the concept of editions works well maybe it did at one time but for me at least i don' t know anymore..
    every different medium printed on, different printer different point of view /perspective
    emotions you have when you are printing or working on the file changes the image / final print
    so how can someone have an edition that runs for 30 prints or 10 prints printed over 20 or even 3 years
    when nothing is ever the same ?
    IDK ive printed the same image in the dark or with a computer ( printed by a lab ) like 4 times
    over 5 years and every time i interpret the print differently ... how would that be the same edition if it was an edition of 7 lets say ..
    they were 7 different images .. would they all be part of the same edition ?
    ive heard of people who love printing prints so much that even though they finished their edition of 20 prints they decided that
    if they used a different developer or toner or paper, or size for the print it was a different edition .. how does that jive with collectors who thought 20 was it ?

    IDK i don't number anything ... anymore
    john
     
  10. MattKing

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    If you have gallery or other representation, ask your representative. The issue of numbered editions appears to depend on the markets you are selling into.
    Also, are you easily bored?:D
    I ask (with tongue firmly in cheek) because some photographers really dislike reprinting work over and over. If you limit the size of the editions there will be less of that sort of frustration.
    My sense too is that if you have a history of limiting your output, you are more likely to attract higher prices with later work.
     
  11. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber
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    Reprinting sounds great until you realize that paper ;developer; light source all can change and or may not even be available
    I'm not famous but images I care enough to make by hand are usually done in 10-15 prints
    During one session..it takes dedication for that but it's the easiest and closest you will get in an all analog flow making multiples
    I already have prints where the paper is not made anymore...
    Plus I forgot to mention humidity and temperature play a part here...
    I will happily number them for you!!
     
  12. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council
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    I do limited editions of 10-15. By the time I have made 15 copies of an image, I really don't want to see it again. And since I'm not a full-time printer and don't yet make a living off of selling art photography, I don't have the time to be printing up dozens or hundreds of copies of something. That issue of time is compounded by the fact that I'm doing alternative process printing most of the time and it takes me the better part of an hour to make a single print.
     
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