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Why Sell Limited Edition Prints? Art Should be for Everyone!

Published Aug. 31st 2007

Recently I’ve become frustrated at not being able to find prints available from certain artists, and it’s made me question the whole idea behind limited edition art prints.

First of all, why do limited edition prints even exist?

I think the original idea was to make art buyers feel that they had put their money into some sort of investment that would appreciate in value. But are all art buyers just looking for a financial investment? Of course not, because pretty much everyone likes art—it appeals to all human beings on some level.

For instance, have you ever entered a home that didn’t have at least one picture on the wall? Unlikely. Sure, most of these people aren’t art connoisseurs or serious collectors, but you shouldn’t have to be to enjoy art!

I’m not even sure art collectors truly enjoy art. I had one buyer tell me that he collected so much art he had to keep much of it stored in boxes. He went on to say that an original of mine he’d bought a while back was being safely kept packaged and stored under his bed. What?! Who’s enjoying my art there? The dust mites?!

I’ve thought a lot about whether I want to get my art published as limited edition prints or not. . . and I am pretty sure my answer will be no. Yeah, I know, most artists would love to see their work as "Limited Editions" because it makes you feel like you’ve reached some level of success. There’s a prestige there.

But it’s all a bit snooty and egotistical. Limited edition prints are often beyond the affordability of everyday people, especially when an artist becomes well-known. At that point, a limited edition print can easily cost more than the original once did!

Limiting the number of prints (and raising prices) convinces many people of ordinary means that they’re not worthy of owning your art. Should I tell the dog groomer down the street that she’s not allowed to put my art on her walls just because she isn’t the CEO of a bank?

Sadly, many "professional" art critics (and artists) think that printing open editions or posters will cheapen your art, or reduce your respectability as an artist in the art world.

But I don’t paint for art critics. I want to share my art with everyday people, and as many people as I can.

One publisher I was with sold tens of thousands of prints of one of my images. If that image had been limited to just 1,000 prints, how many people would have missed out? And if more than 1,000 people wanted it, why should I make it so they can’t have it?

I don’t think limited editions are for me. I want to keep my images affordable and available for as long as people want to buy them. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Read additional articles at Crista Forest’s art blog or check out her wildlife paintings and prints at www.forestwildlifeart.com

A question that particularly vexes visual artists (especially those who produce art prints) is whether to create art for commercial success or to attempt to build a museum-bound legacy. You may have thought something like this yourself: "If I try to make art so people will buy it, am I selling out?" Or, "If I try to make art for the ages, can I live off it now?" Perhaps. . . read more

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