Thursday, January 5, 2012

Why I Don't Do Giclees, Part 2

"Grand Canyon Gold" - detail

I hadn't expected to stir up such a hornet's nest with my last post on giclées.  The torrent of comments was unprecedented in my years of blogging.  The comments ranged from "Thanks, I'm glad someone finally said that" to "I don't agree with you at all."  And the thing is, so many people on both sides made so many excellent points.

The arguments can be sorted, more or less, into two piles.  In the first, artists feel that their unique, handcrafted items will be devalued by reproductions sold to a public uneducated on the differences among the types of reproduction and original art.  In the second, artists feel that selling reproductions to a public that appreciates a pleasing image is a good way to make a living, as  it supplements (and perhaps encourages) the sale of originals.

Yes, there were lots of sub-arguments and hard-to-classify statements.  But what it all comes down to is this.  What are your goals as an artist?   In many ways, making reproductions becomes a personal choice.  It's not a case of one size fits all.  The answer that's right for me may not be the right answer for you.

For me, I relish the hand-crafted.  I like to see the brush strokes and the process beneath the painting.  In some ways, not only is a painting a thing of beauty, it's also a recording of the artist's performance.  By looking carefully, I can see the painter's mistakes, corrections and discoveries.  I get a lot of enjoyment out of that.   The value has to do more with emotion than dollars.

Granted, this sensibility is shared more by other artists and discerning collectors than by the public-at-large, who usually just want something pretty to hang on the wall.

But I relish the image, too.  Whether dramatic or subtle, knife-edged or soft, bleeding with color or grey with summer-day haze, the image must be something I love.   I will buy a reproduction of an image I like if I can't afford the original.  If the color and design are appealing enough, I'll sacrifice - though somewhat grudgingly - the ability to see the brush work.

Because I approach the business side with more emotion than calculation, I hope to sell my work to people who also appreciate the handcrafted.  I want them to buy and enjoy the original whenever possible.  Thus, I keep my prices lower to make my paintings affordable to most, and I don't make reproductions.  In this way, I try to encourage the purchase of original art.

Selling - and making - original art is much more satisfying to me than selling reproductions.  If I wanted to make real money fast, I'd go back to my old day job.


Denise Rose said...

Well said my friend! I tend to agree with your statements here about this topic. But I also agree everyone has to follow his own goals as an artist. Thanks for the thought provoking posts!

Marsha Hamby Savage said...

Well said, Michael. I agree with you. I want an original. I understand the people as a whole don't understand the difference. If they can't afford an original, then I would want them to have a print. I'm still sitting somewhere in the middle -- one day feeling no prints, and another day feeling, heck, why not.

John D. Wooldridge said...

I'm with you here Michael. While I know that in my local market, I could make a LOT more sales if I offered giclees, I just don't feel it's conducive to my goals. The original is the item of value and my prices are not very high so people should be able to afford the original if they really want it. Even my many of my larger pieces are less expensive than those bigscreen TVs that will last the consumer 10 years at best! I think that's an exceptional value for something that will outlive the client. If I were to ever get into the stratosphere with my prices, I would probably change my mind but for now, that's how I'll conduct myself.

Anonymous said...

I so enjoy your emails. But I wanted to write a note thanking you for your philosophy. I have framed the painting "Sail Rock" I bought from you and it is in a prominent place in my home where we can see it often. I have taken it down several times, really scrutinizing it and thought about how you painted it and what your vision must have been. Even my husband (the engineer type) has commented on it. I love the freshness and energy in it and I wonder if a giclee could posses that.

K. Henderson Art said...

I don't do giclees because I can't figure out how to make money with it and no one has ever been able to explain it. I paint large-ish. I had a gallery ask me to do giclees the same size as my paintings. I would cost me $450 to make a giclee, I have to double that for a wholesale price, double that again for the gallery price. we know have a giclee selling for $1800. You can buy one of my originals for $3,000 so why not go that route.Plus, the gallery will make twice as much as I do on a print. Does that make sense? Where are these artist getting prints made that they can sell them for $100?????? I'll stick with originals.

bob ragland said...

I have small originals for sale. They start at $50-$100. I 'd rather people have one of my originals.
I don't make any reproductions other than postcards.
Each to their own , I say.