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Author Topic: Price and Edition  (Read 57694 times)
Steven Draper
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« Reply #20 on: November 21, 2008, 10:27:34 AM »
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I tend to agree with the BJ approach. I'm not a 'recognized' fine art photographer but have won some local competitions and Jurors Awards etc. I try really hard to make the prints at the best quality I can.

I have actually sold more 'framed' and ready to hang pieces in the 200 - 300 range than the smaller 'print in a bag' at $35 - $45

As a small producer it seems that people want to buy and hang, the hassle for many of framing the print themselves (even though they fit commercial frames) or taking it to a shop seems noticeable. I have sold prints on the basis that I can frame it too.

The trouble with numbering is that it adds a great deal of added time to the management of ones collection - however a number of galleries etc in my area insist that work is a limited edition, claiming that it does make a difference to perception and sales. In reality I think most collectors of photo's do not really care, provided that they realize that the print is made by the person and not a run of several thousand for the 'home improvement' warehouse. So as a photographer I'm a little bit between a rock and a hard place, although a combination of the BJ model and the production of small limited portfolio packages may be the way to go, especially if I market the work myself.

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jasonrandolph
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« Reply #21 on: November 24, 2008, 12:30:02 AM »
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Why not have the best of both worlds?  Make a limited edition of large prints, matted and framed, for consumption by the gallery capitalists; then, for those who love the images, make smaller, more intimate prints at a more "democratic" price point so that everyone can enjoy it.  I see not reason why the artist has to limit his/her profits by saying they will sell only X number of prints.  After all, the creativity is the hardest part of marketing a fine art print.  Why shouldn't the artist be the one who ultimately makes the most money from a particular print?

Especially in modern times, where making a duplicate print is as easy as pushing a button and loading the media, why limit the number of people who can enjoy your work?  In the wet darkroom days, sure, an artist would tire of printing the same negative over and over.  There was a larger investment of time, our most limited commodity.  

In the end, though, as long as the artist is making the calls, more power to them.  Let's not let gallery owners affect our creativity.  Follow your heart, and by all means, remember that there's nothing wrong with NOT being a starving artist!
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Rob C
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« Reply #22 on: November 24, 2008, 01:04:59 PM »
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Quote from: jasonrandolph
Why not have the best of both worlds?  Make a limited edition of large prints, matted and framed, for consumption by the gallery capitalists; then, for those who love the images, make smaller, more intimate prints at a more "democratic" price point so that everyone can enjoy it.  I see not reason why the artist has to limit his/her profits by saying they will sell only X number of prints.  After all, the creativity is the hardest part of marketing a fine art print.  Why shouldn't the artist be the one who ultimately makes the most money from a particular print?

Especially in modern times, where making a duplicate print is as easy as pushing a button and loading the media, why limit the number of people who can enjoy your work?  In the wet darkroom days, sure, an artist would tire of printing the same negative over and over.  There was a larger investment of time, our most limited commodity.  

In the end, though, as long as the artist is making the calls, more power to them.  Let's not let gallery owners affect our creativity.  Follow your heart, and by all means, remember that there's nothing wrong with NOT being a starving artist!


Not quite sure I follow: on the one hand folks who buy from a gallery are designated `capitalist´ in a manner which seems to indicate the pejorative sense of the word; then those who buy cheaper are somehow presumed to `love´ the images indicating, then, that the others do not, perhaps?

I also find it strange to believe that `creativity is the hardest part of marketing a fine art print.´ Really? I would have thought that creativity was a given for any artist. Experience shows the opposite to what you posit: selling is by far the most difficult aspect of the game for most artists; were that other than the truth, there would be precious few big-time photographers´ agents arounds or, for that matter, actors´agents either!

The encouragement not to be a starving artist is perfectly good, so why discourage the best ploys of the marketing specialists? You can´t really have it both ways, even if that would be nice. But, you can hardly ask your `capitalist´ for big bucks and give the same stuff away for pennies to the poor on the basis that the size is different. That, indeed, is dubious morality!

Rob C
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jasonrandolph
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« Reply #23 on: November 24, 2008, 03:08:51 PM »
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Quote from: Rob C
Not quite sure I follow: on the one hand folks who buy from a gallery are designated `capitalist´ in a manner which seems to indicate the pejorative sense of the word; then those who buy cheaper are somehow presumed to `love´ the images indicating, then, that the others do not, perhaps?

I also find it strange to believe that `creativity is the hardest part of marketing a fine art print.´ Really? I would have thought that creativity was a given for any artist. Experience shows the opposite to what you posit: selling is by far the most difficult aspect of the game for most artists; were that other than the truth, there would be precious few big-time photographers´ agents arounds or, for that matter, actors´agents either!

The encouragement not to be a starving artist is perfectly good, so why discourage the best ploys of the marketing specialists? You can´t really have it both ways, even if that would be nice. But, you can hardly ask your `capitalist´ for big bucks and give the same stuff away for pennies to the poor on the basis that the size is different. That, indeed, is dubious morality!

Rob C

You make some good points Rob.  However, I was referring to the gallery owners as the capitalists.  IMHO, they are the ones who benefit the most from limited editions.
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dkeyes
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« Reply #24 on: November 25, 2008, 01:37:01 PM »
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The desire to be one of the few who owns something, be it art, 1st ed. books, antiques, etc. is part of human nature. We covet scarce things. If you can market your art using this as one element to create desire in your work, then go for it. Your art will be limited no matter what so you can choose to set the limit by numbering/stating it upfront or you can let the market/time do it for you. Galleries, collectors and most artists working in that world would probably choose the former strategy.

I sell my work through galleries so the choice was obvious for me, I do small limited editions. I'm an artist, not a printer, so I choose to move on with my work rather than print my past work until I die. This benefits me and my gallery equally. I also think it has been more profitable for me since I can charge more per print. Limiting your edition doesn't limit your financial gain either. You can always raise your prices on what is left in your edition. I charge more for each successive print in the edition (1/6=x, 2/6=x+10, etc.) and often raise prices over time as costs go up.

In the end, whether one chooses to limit/number their edition or not, you have made a marketing decision. Neither decision is more ethical or creatively pure.
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Steven Draper
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« Reply #25 on: November 27, 2008, 07:21:52 AM »
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The topic has come to a bit of a head here! I'm in the process of being reviewed by a local Gallery. The rules suggest that images be limited editions.... I explained my case to the curator - a hy-bred of a couple of number models and she completely agreed with me!

In review the system has a Brook Jenson style policy that I had been leaning toward prior to reading his essay on the subject - except that the total lifetime limit of any print from any file (or similar one - no machine gunning a subject to provide lots of near identical files!!) is 50 unless otherwise noted. (I have a successful and cheeky image that is x/69!!)  That means I have a responsibility to manage my printing and also provides the ability to control a price / size stratergy for popular images should one wizz off towards the limit!! To make things clear the 50 include all prints over 10x8 in size (except those evaluation ones I destroy.)

If a small collection goes to exhibition, then any exhibition edition / portfolio would count within the 50, but also become a limited subset of 1 - 10 images.

I think that gives everyone the best of all worlds, but most importantly because photography is essentially a way for me to explore 'being alive' the images are essentially a by-product of the exploration, keep me looking for new, rather than continually reprinting and re-working the old. It gives any buyers that are interested in the providence of the work the ability to find out more about the piece and how many have been produced in a completely honest and transparent way.

Personally I think very few people purchase a photographic print from people like myself because they think it will be worth several times more in the future, however if they enjoy experiencing the presence of a piece then they may well.  Imagine thinking a piece is 1/250 when in fact it is the only one ever produced!!

Steven
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kirmo
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« Reply #26 on: November 28, 2008, 03:00:53 AM »
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At least here in Finland the state taxing goes like this.

If my gallery sells a photograph, then the VAT (value added tax) is either

    - for signed limited 1-30 and numbered print -- the tax 8%
    - for others 22 %

This rule is also for photographs I buy outside of EU area. When buying from
states I need to pay the VAT for your USA/Canadian prints.

This is 8% or 22% from the total price including postage.

So for me it makes a difference. For customers buying, they only see the
selling price - not what part goes to the goverment (8% or 22%)

Kirmo Wilén

www.withlight.com
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lenswork
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« Reply #27 on: December 27, 2008, 10:52:08 PM »
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Clearly, this is an issue that each photographer will need to answer for their own work in their own way. My thoughts and ideas work for me, but they may not work at all for others who are marketing and selling their work in other venues - e.g., traditional galleries. I've written about this so others can use my ideas if they seem appropriate for their work, but I would never dream of trying to impose my ideas on photography at large.

What strikes me as truly important in this topic is not whether or not you choose to limit and number your images, but that whatever you do is completely and thoroughly transparent so that your collectors and buyers know precisely what they are buying and what your commitment to them is. It's all about integrity far more than it is about any given strategy. Consistency, open transparency, a published statement about what  you do and why you do it -- these are the cornerstones that I would universally recommend. If limited editions make sense for you (as they do for Chris Burkett) then by all means do it and don't look back. There is nothing "wrong" with limited editions per se. I simply found this idea wrong for me and my work.

Brooks Jensen
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lenswork
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« Reply #28 on: December 27, 2008, 11:24:36 PM »
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Let me be sure I have this right: from reading the article I gather BJ is now in the business of selling prints for other photographers through the magazine - right or wrong?

If I am right, then he seems to me to be selling cheaply in the same manner as any stock agency, where the maths is about high turnover. This rings good for the agent - BJ, who will have the turnover - but not so hot for the photographer.

Business as usual, then...

Rob C

Rob,
Actually, the photographers whose work we've sold via the LensWork Special Editions program have done very well. They have universally reported back to us that they've earned more money through our program than anything else they have done selling their artwork. We pay a handsome commission and we sell a lot of work.

Sure, we profit from the program, but we earn it. We do all the work to produce the prints, take all the risks to market the folios, and do not ask the photographer for anything in the way of effort or investment. Unlike so many traditional galleries, we do not ask the photographer to make the prints; we do not ask them to pay for the materials, prints, mats, or framing; we do not ask them to participate in the promotional and advertising costs; we do not ask them to chip in on the shrimp dip for the opening nights snacks; we do not pay them months and months after we sell their work; we do not send back the unsold (and often less-than-pristine) artwork years after the exhibition is over. Obviously, not all galleries mistreat their artists like this, but there are boatloads of stories about photographers who have found the traditional gallery world is not their best venue for getting their work out there.

We've now sold tens of thousands of prints since we started the LensWork Special Editions program and paid photographers almost a million dollars in commissions. Photographers are sometimes abused by people who sell their work for them, but not by us and not through our program. We take great pride in the fact that through LensWork Special Edtions we are able to pay our photographer's so well and to help further their careers and fund future projects. Pursuing fine art photography requires money. We are delighted to be one vehicle by which photographers can help fund their artwork. We may only be a small part of a photographer's quilt of income, but we are proud of the part we play. I guess one testament to the way we treat our photographers is the requests we've had from our alumni to participate again now that we have recently relaunched the program with pigment-on-paper folios like the Reichmann folios we recently announced.

Thanks for bringing this issue up here in this forum so we could add these comments to the discussion.

Brooks Jensen
Editor, LensWork Publishing

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RSL
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« Reply #29 on: February 14, 2009, 03:47:26 PM »
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If you're printing etchings or engravings or lithographs it makes sense to number the prints and cut off the run before the plate or the prepared stone deteriorates enough to give less than superior results. But photographic negatives and digital files don't deteriorate with use. In fact, since you gain experience with each print you make from a negative, print number 35 may well be better than print number one. And with a digital file you can adjust and test until you get a perfect print, save the resulting file, then print any number of identical copies. So the only reason to limit the "edition" of a photographic print is to make it artificially precious, and numbering photographic prints is not only meaningless but silly.
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Victor Glass
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« Reply #30 on: February 26, 2009, 04:22:41 PM »
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I've got a question about limited editions. Before digital photography and ink jet technology artists, e.g painters, would have a have a limited number of copies made via lithography and these would represent a limited edition, with each copy having something like 1/250 in the bottom left hand corner. Since it would be prohibitive to produce a very small number of copies this way (like one), a bunch were made (50, 100, etc).

The digital process allows copies of artwork to be produced one at a time. I'm sure this has been a boon to artists who want to make high quality copies of their work for limited distribution.

I think some, maybe many, photographers think that if they offer a limited edition of n prints, then they can make the prints over time, as thereis a demand for them. Even though they will not be all the same - since over time different software, printers, ink, paper, and profiles will be used. Recently I walked into an art store and saw that an aquaintance, whose habits I know, had a print for sale with "1/250" in the left hand corner. Now, I knew that didn't mean the print was made on January, 250 AD. It mean that this was the first print of a limited edition  of 250 prints. Now I know for a fact that this person has not made 250 prints and was selling them as a limited edition. I also knew that he'd be lucky to sell even one.

So, if one plans a limited edition of prints, is it proper to make them all at the same time, on the same printer with the same inks with the same paper, etc, or is it okay to actually limit the number of prints sold over time to 250 and print them as you go?
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« Reply #31 on: February 27, 2009, 09:09:31 AM »
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Quote from: Victor Glass
I've got a question about limited editions. Before digital photography and ink jet technology artists, e.g painters, would have a have a limited number of copies made via lithography and these would represent a limited edition, with each copy having something like 1/250 in the bottom left hand corner. Since it would be prohibitive to produce a very small number of copies this way (like one), a bunch were made (50, 100, etc).

The digital process allows copies of artwork to be produced one at a time. I'm sure this has been a boon to artists who want to make high quality copies of their work for limited distribution.

I think some, maybe many, photographers think that if they offer a limited edition of n prints, then they can make the prints over time, as thereis a demand for them. Even though they will not be all the same - since over time different software, printers, ink, paper, and profiles will be used. Recently I walked into an art store and saw that an aquaintance, whose habits I know, had a print for sale with "1/250" in the left hand corner. Now, I knew that didn't mean the print was made on January, 250 AD. It mean that this was the first print of a limited edition  of 250 prints. Now I know for a fact that this person has not made 250 prints and was selling them as a limited edition. I also knew that he'd be lucky to sell even one.

So, if one plans a limited edition of prints, is it proper to make them all at the same time, on the same printer with the same inks with the same paper, etc, or is it okay to actually limit the number of prints sold over time to 250 and print them as you go?

Victor, First, if a painter produces copies of an artwork digitally, with a giclee (advanced inkjet) process the result is properly called a "giclee." You can read about the history of this process at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giclee. Nowadays a few photographers are calling pigment based inkjet prints "giclees." As far as I'm concerned that's gilding the lily, but to those who don't know the difference it sounds good and probably helps to sell prints.

As far as the idea of making a complete print run at once is concerned, it pretty much depends on the process. If you're doing a stone lithograph it doesn't make sense to prepare the stone, knock off a few prints, then try to preserve the prepared stone until you're ready to do a second run. If you're doing an engraving, and if you're careful to clean the plate after the initial run you can set the plate aside and come back to it later. If you're doing a woodcut you easily can clean the block and set it aside for a later run. I used to do limited edition woodcuts and never did the whole run at once.

As far as the idea of "limited editions" of photographs is concerned, the whole idea is so silly that it hardly matters whether or not people doing that do it in a single run or one at a time. I'm sure some photographers get higher prices for limited edition prints, but that means that the person buying the print is buying it as an "investment," not because of the quality of the photograph. As far as I'm concerned, anyone who buys a limited edition photograph as a "collector," would be better off buying rare coins. They're smaller, easier to secure against theft, and don't deteriorate with age. But, of course, that's just my opinion and clearly it's not universal.

 
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Victor Glass
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« Reply #32 on: February 27, 2009, 10:53:28 AM »
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Thanks for the clarification, RSL. The aquaintance I mentioned in my post, the "1/250" guy, also goes to lengths to explain to his potential ccustomers that he use a process called giclee to produce his prints. This so bogus it's hard to take. I know he uses an Epson 2200. Now let me ask you this, if an artist get his/her work reporduced via the giclee method, what printers are now used to print them? I have a 7800 and when I sell a print I explain that it is an inkjet print. Saying it is produced by the glicee method I think would be redundant and merely a method to (1) jack the price up, (2) impress the customer (I guess this is really part of (1), (3) show off something they just learned (incorrectly), and to enhanced one's ego.

By the way I visited a gallery in Chelsea that sells prints of well know photographers. All the prints are the same dimensions, but some are priced $1,200, some $1,800. I asked why the difference. The explanation was that the prints that are popular, i.e have sold a lot, are priced higher and the prints that are not so popular are priced lower. Interesting. So this is another approach, giving a higher price to a print statistically seen as more desirable. For me this is boon to someone who really likes one of the less popular prints  
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alainbriot
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« Reply #33 on: February 27, 2009, 02:35:40 PM »
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Quote from: Victor Glass
Thanks for the clarification, RSL. The aquaintance I mentioned in my post, the "1/250" guy, also goes to lengths to explain to his potential ccustomers that he use a process called giclee to produce his prints. This so bogus it's hard to take. I know he uses an Epson 2200. Now let me ask you this, if an artist get his/her work reporduced via the giclee method, what printers are now used to print them? I have a 7800 and when I sell a print I explain that it is an inkjet print. Saying it is produced by the glicee method I think would be redundant and merely a method to (1) jack the price up, (2) impress the customer (I guess this is really part of (1), (3) show off something they just learned (incorrectly), and to enhanced one's ego.


FYI "giclee" is a French word that means "Spray".  Used in the context of printing it stands for "ink spray".  All inkjet printers spray ink (hence their name: ink-jet) therefore all inkjet printers produce giclees.  The 2200 is an inkjet printer therefore it produces giclees. It's just a fancy term for a commonplace printing method.

Personally, I much prefer to use the term "pigmented prints" or "inkjet prints".  Much more straightforward.  I agree with you on this point.  In my book, I recommend calling things by their name.

However, to go back to your example, there's nothing manipulative with the artist you refer to using the term giclee to describe his printing process.

Alain
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Alain Briot
Author of Mastering Landscape Photography, Mastering Composition, Creativity and Personal Style., Marketing Fine Art Photography and How Photographs are Sold.
http://www.beautiful-landscape.com
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« Reply #34 on: February 27, 2009, 03:44:57 PM »
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Quote from: alainbriot
FYI "giclee" is a French word that means "Spray".  Used in the context of printing it stands for "ink spray".  All inkjet printers spray ink (hence their name: ink-jet) therefore all inkjet printers produce giclees.  The 2200 is an inkjet printer therefore it produces giclees. It's just a fancy term for a commonplace printing method.

Personally, I much prefer to use the term "pigmented prints" or "inkjet prints".  Much more straightforward.  I agree with you on this point.  In my book, I recommend calling things by their name.

However, to go back to your example, there's nothing manipulative with the artist you refer to using the term giclee to describe his printing process.

Alain

Alain, There's nothing actually dishonest about using the term "giclee" for a pigmented inkjet print. But most people haven't a clue what "giclee" means and it sounds a lot more "arty" than "pigmented inkjet print." If the person who calls his prints "giclees" would define the term when he uses it I'd agree with you that it's not manipulative. By the way, the correct translation is closer to "spurt" than to "spray," and has a risque connotation in French. I print with a 2200 a great deal but to call the result a giclee is, at best, a stretch.
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Victor Glass
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« Reply #35 on: February 27, 2009, 09:26:09 PM »
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Shall we add levity? A good example of the danger of using French terms one does not understand concerns a statement president Bush once made. In trying to express his disdain for French socialism he stated: "... and there isn't even a word for entrepreneur in the French language."
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ChrisS
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« Reply #36 on: February 28, 2009, 02:26:26 AM »
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Quote from: RSL
As far as the idea of "limited editions" of photographs is concerned, the whole idea is so silly that it hardly matters whether or not people doing that do it in a single run or one at a time. I'm sure some photographers get higher prices for limited edition prints, but that means that the person buying the print is buying it as an "investment," not because of the quality of the photograph.

Are you sure it's so silly? When a sculptor limits the number of casts that will be made from a mould, is that so silly? Given that scarcity is one of the factors that contributes to the financial value of works of art (anyone who thinks otherwise isn't watching the art market), it might be a bit silly not to put a cap on how many versions of the work will be available, if it's intended for the art market.

As for the 'quality of the work' / 'investment' distinction, I'd guess that most buyers don't see these as mutually exclusive.
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Rob C
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« Reply #37 on: February 28, 2009, 03:49:39 AM »
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Like or dislike Alain´s style - or subject-matter, for that - an effort to correct an educated Frenchman´s French must border on the insane.

But I like it; adds a jolly touch of je ne sais quoi to the proceedings..

Rob C
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« Reply #38 on: February 28, 2009, 05:30:10 AM »
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Quote from: ChrisS
Are you sure it's so silly? When a sculptor limits the number of casts that will be made from a mould, is that so silly? Given that scarcity is one of the factors that contributes to the financial value of works of art (anyone who thinks otherwise isn't watching the art market), it might be a bit silly not to put a cap on how many versions of the work will be available, if it's intended for the art market.

As for the 'quality of the work' / 'investment' distinction, I'd guess that most buyers don't see these as mutually exclusive.

When a sculptor make casts from a mold the mold is deteriorating with each cast. Cast #1 will be different from cast #40. When a photographer makes prints from a negative or a digital file the negative or file doesn't deteriorate. Print # 40 may be better than print #1. Numbering them is silly, but I'll admit it's a way to manipulate the "art market." I guess that's appropriate since the "art market" depends on manipulation even to exist.
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« Reply #39 on: February 28, 2009, 05:32:32 AM »
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Quote from: Rob C
Like or dislike Alain´s style - or subject-matter, for that - an effort to correct an educated Frenchman´s French must border on the insane.

But I like it; adds a jolly touch of je ne sais quoi to the proceedings..

Rob C

Rob, You're right of course. But Alain left out something in his "FYI." Full disclosure is always important, even for a Frenchman.
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