The Debate Continues: Original Art IS Affordable; There’s no Need for Prints!

By Karen Cooper in Misc > Art Opinion

After reading the recently submitted article on EE which criticized limited edition print artists for being "a bit snooty and egotistical," I realized I needed to respond.

Not about that statement, particularly, but about selling any art prints at all!

One major issue I had with the article happened right at the beginning, with the sentence that read, "The original idea [of limited edition prints] was to make art buyers feel that they had put their money into some sort of investment."

Ahem. Any art buyer who is serious about investment buys ORIGINALS!

And let me be the first (or at least, the next) person to say that a print is NOT ART. It is a COPY of art, a reproduction, or if you really want to get nasty, it’s a fake!

I love when artists who sell prints claim they’re doing it to make art affordable to the masses. Just before I started writing this I did a quick search for "daily painters" online. Yup, right there on my computer screen were some pretty cool paintings—all of them originals. There were ORIGINAL oil paintings on canvas board, ORIGINAL acrylic paintings on canvas, ORIGINAL pastels on paper, and REAL drawings.

As for their prices—drum roll, please—I found an original painting for $29.95. I found another for $39.95, and I found lots of original art around $100. I didn’t spend all that much time searching, either.

And it’s not just artists selling art online. When was the last time you went to a summer art festival? You know the kind with the white tents set up in a park? When I exhibited my own paintings this July at that exact type of venue, I found myself across the sidewalk from a younger artist just starting out in her career. She had several stunning abstracts, done in oils on canvas, and many of them were priced at $80.

Those experiences tell me that affordable, original art is all around us, so I don’t think that "making art affordable to the masses" is a valid reason for prints of any sort.

In fact, let’s be brutally honest here. Contemporary artist prints, limited or otherwise, are made so the artist can SELL MORE. It’s about money—not the patron’s money—but the artist’s money.

With that said, I am fully cognizant that artists have to make a living too. But let’s ponder this thought: how many paintings (I’m talking real ones here) would we sell if there were suddenly no more reproductions?

The aforementioned prints article concluded with the statement "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."

But perhaps there is. There will always be lots of paintings for sale with many different sized price tags. But. . . the people out there who want to purchase art have checkbooks and debit cards that come in all sizes too.

So maybe, just maybe, we should all try to work a little harder at marketing our original art, rather than relying on prints.

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