"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.