Thursday, September 27, 2007

Originals vs Prints

[Update :: Dan's right, I haven't quite used the word 'print' correctly in this post. See his comment below for a better clarification. Thanks]

I'm wondering what people think about original vs prints when it comes to art?

Yesterday I was in at the Printmaker Gallery on Brunswick st, which has some nice prints. I especially like Jam Fancy's work that is for sale in here ... her work is always cute with a sprinkle of evil.

I also visited the Dianne Tanzer gallery yesterday, on Gertrude St. Ash Keating's exhibition was on. His work was available for sale via limited edition prints (pricey), or free in a take-away newspaper format.

Both experiences got me thinking about the original vs print debate. So I thought I'd jot down a few pros and cons of original and printed works. Feel free to suggest any others in the comments.

Original Artwork

- The artist is directly involved in creating the image. You therefore have a closer connection to the artist
- There is more of a story behind each work, as each piece is considered within the artists entire portfolio.
- Obviously an original is more of an investment.


- Gives art more of an entry-level, making it accessible to more people.
- A way for a artists to earn some additional dollars to pay the bills.
- Allows the non-art-investor to buy affordable work from well known artists.
- I'm sure prints would be considered evil by some, cheapening the art world to a money making experience.

Of course, Prints can be further broken down into to groups - Open ended prints vs limited edition prints. Not sure if there's much difference, although with a limited edition print there feels like there is some amount of exclusivity / collectivity.

Personally speaking, I don't have a problem with artists who do prints. All the art that I own is reproduced. But I'm sure there are others that aren't so comfortable.

Does artist involvement have anything to do with it? My Aunty, Sandra Brett, is an artist that does a lot of linocut artwork. She does all the prints herself, so is still involved in the printing creation.

At the other end of the spectrum, I have two Yoshitomo Nara pieces on my wall that are open-ended giclee prints. I'm sure that Yoshitomo himself wasn't there when these were printed, but does that make them any less special?

We live in a much more digital, reproducible society now than we did even 10 years ago. My guess is that most people (Genuine art investors excluded) would be less fussed about whether an artwork was original/printed and more concerned about having access to art that they can afford for themselves.

Your thoughts very welcome, as always.


Dan said...

I think you might be a little bit confused by the word 'print', in the art world.

I guess you could say that there are two types of prints ...

1. prints by printmakers i.e. your Aunt, usually done by etching, linocut, digital, etc. They are not reproductions of works but rather original works, made by printmakers (a type of artist) and usually done in an edition (5 , 10 20 etc etc). Nothing cheap about this type of print, a Damien Hirst print
which was an edition of 145, went for over $20k.

2. prints which are basically copies of original works. Two types here
a. limited edition copies, signed by the artist and printed by a reputable print reseller
b. generic prints of famous works e.g. the Mona Lisa, sold anywhere to unsuspecting buyers.
there isn't much resale value in 2a, and totally none in 2b. And sure you get to have a 'real' limited edition print of a Pollack, but no serious collector would wanna spend 5k on that , rather than get an original of an emerging artist which might end up being worth 50k.

As for pros and cons, unless the artist is dead, most would not want to sign of the copyrights of their work for reproduction into limited/unlimited edition prints, so artists do not make money in that way.

MyCharlieGirl said...

here is my opinion...from an artist and an art buyer view....

its nice if artists can offer a range of edition edition and originals.....if i really really really loved a certain work from an artist....i would buy the original if i could afford it....but unfortunately im in a position where i im happy with a print....having a limited edition print makes the piece more long as it is signed im really happy.

as an artist...i mostly sell open edition prints and a few limited editions....i like the fact that if people like my work, they can own a piece of it if they like. I print all the prints myself and title and sign them...i think that adds a nice touch to them :)

Ben Rowe said...

Thanks Dan ... you're right - I'm using the word "print" incorrectly. I'm going to update the post slightly.

Bec, I agree. It's nice to know that it's actually you that's printing your art, and signing it.

A Reason to Paint said...

At my place buying art is an enjoyable luxury that I indulge in from time to time. Being a luxury item, I find it easier to justify buying an original that might have some investment potential as opposed to a print. Not to mention any limited edition prints that do have investment potential are typically way out of my price range. I am not interested in purchasing open edition prints; I'd rather have a small original from an emerging artist.