Original Print

GH

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I've just done a Grumble search for 'Original Print' and found very little discussion on the subject.

It seems to be that Printmaking is one of the most misunderstood artforms. I've been selling original prints for many years but it can be very hard work at times because frequently I have to educate the customer before standing any chance of making the sale.

I even had one lady argue with me that there is no such thing as an original print.

I'm wondering what the situation is in America?
I know there are lots of Print Workshops in America so somebody must be selling their work.


George
 

Puppyraiser

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One of the most interesting things our PPFA chapter did was to sponsor a one day workshop on etching. We made our own plate and printed several copies of it. Most educational!
 

Bill Henry-

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My understanding is that any print, if it is signed and numbered, is technically and legally an original regardless of how many copies there are floating around.

But, you’ll probably never be able to convince a customer of that who has a gut feeling otherwise.

… And, It’s pretty hard to sell the idea if the edition is 15,000.
 

wpfay

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George,
As per Bill's response there is continued debate and misunderstanding about what is a "print" and what is a "reproduction".
I studied printmaking in college and have worked in most of the varied technologies. My understanding is the same as yours. Convincing the customer is especially difficult when those in the profession, at the retail level and in the publishing business, are putting out contradictory information in the name of marketing.

Original prints are termed such because the artist created the image directly on to the printing plate, stone or screen. The print is therefore the first generation of the image on paper. The artist may work from drawings or maquettes, but the creative process is integral with the print media.
The term I learned was "multiple originals" in describing the edition that is generated. Since the inking and printing process is all hand done by the artist or a master printer, each piece will be slightly different. The Artist's Proofs are the first complete image printed that is approved by the artist, and is used as a benchmark for the quality control of the rest of the edition.

Conversely, images that are transfered from an original painting to some other substrate through various technologies qualify as reproductions or copies.

This subject has been covered at length on the Grumble, but may be buried so far back in the archives that it may have been purged during one of the server changes.

Edit: Andrew's link goes into greater depth, and in their definition of "Limited Edition Prints" show how the confusion is perpetrated. I believe the correct term should be "Limited Edition Reproductions".
 

GH

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Wally,
Yours was a concise and very accurate explanation of the difference between the "print" and the "reproduction".
You would think that an original print would be much more desirable than a reproduction.
I can only speak for my own city, but here most people will spend 4 or 5 times more on a limited edition reproduction than they would need to spend to buy an original print. When you know the difference it seems like complete insanity. The sad fact is that most people do not understand what exactly they are buying or that they could spend less and get an original piece of artwork.

The question I am asking myself is, as a retailer, should I be concerned about this or should I just give people the limited edition posters they want to buy?
I'm heading towards the posters.
 

RoboFramer

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Another 'minefield' of a subject.

I used to describe etchings, engravings etc etc as 'original prints' the 'original' exists only on a metal (etc) plate - etc etc.

But then who are you buying these 'original' prints from? A publisher?

I don't trust publishers!

Now I describe etchings as 'ETCHINGS' or 'hand coloured etchings' - I have to take in customers' questions - such as 'Is not "original" and "print" actually a contradiction of terms?' and...."How can this be an ORIGINAL if it is numbered 50/150?" Valid points!

Then there is mixed media - computer generated prints - and - if just ONE is made and all the data deleted, then indeed that is also 'original'. But it was PRINTED

What is stopping anyone from scanning that 'original' and re-PRINTING other copies - EXACT copies? NOTHING! It may even be done using better paper, more archival inks and so be even BETTER than the 'original'?

So, just to simplify things - for me - there is only one type of 'original' print and that is a MONOprint. The artist paints an image on glass, or suchlike, places paper on the glass, applies pressure and gets a mirror image. The 'original, on the glass, is now wrecked, or at least significantly altered, repeating the process would result in failure.

So now - 'change heads' cutomer/man on the street head on....... I ask myself this - WHY paint an image on glass to get just ONE print? Why not paint that image on paper and get an, er ORIGIAL painting?

(Please insert shrugging smiley!)

Truth is, these century-old technques evolved to make art affordable - these days we have more modern techniques to make it even more affordable - but we also have a lot of HYPE.

Our Fine Art Trade Guild has definitions for artists' prints, they range from category 'A' (artist engraved the plate, made the print and hand-coloured it) to 'J' (Artist engraved the plate, but died 100 years ago, we have the plate, have re-worked it and 10 people have coloured it) and then on to 'Z' (Artist died 100 years ago - plate beyond repair - we have made a brand new plate...........etc)

Bottom line, for me is, I leave the word 'Original' out for ANYTHING that has been reproduced from ANYTHING in ANY way.
 

Cliff Wilson

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I have some copper plate etchings by a NH artist, which are of course each unique, yet "LE" numbered.

I call then "Unique Prints." Seems to make the buyers happy?.?

At least I am selling more of them than the "LE Reproductions."
 

GH

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John
You are right - " a minefield it is".

My position is this. Printmaking is a method of producing original art and is as valid as painting, drawing or sculpture which is why it is a degree subject at art college.
I think Wally's term "multiple originals" is a perfect description.
That is the legitimate side of printmaking where you are dealing directly with the artist. It is a wonderfully exciting medium with many highly accomplished artists.

But you're absolutely right John. Once publishers get involved the waters get muddied and you can never be quite sure how the print was produced or how many exist.

But then if you look at the world of painting things aren't so different. I know one artist in particular who uses stencils and has produced many paintings which are basically the image but in different colours.
In this city at the moment there is a trend towards painting with freedom from inhibitions as in childlike. I know another artist who used her child to produce some of her paintings.
I could quote many other similar examples but the point I am making is that when there is money involved, some and maybe many publishers, artists and dealers will always find ways to increase production using somewhat suspect methods.

Personally, I believe there is no overlap between art and commercialism. I think that work which is produced specifically to be sold is a product and not art. But this leads us into the "What is Art" question and maybe we don't want to go there.
 

Doug Gemmell

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I'm going to start marketing my Original Reproduction Limited Edition Prints. Since I am the artist, who's going to argue with that one.

The print market has the public (and us) so confused that a case can be made for calling anything anything.
 

RoboFramer

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CCA galleries deal in 'original prints' and I LOVE their stuff.

You just don't see their artists' work anywhere else.

A few years back one of their artists - 'Storm Thorgeson - who used to design albumn covers for major rock groups, produced a stunning silkscreen - "back catalogue" - 5 or 6 naked models sitting on the edge of a swimming pool with Pink Floyd album covers painted on their backs. I bought TWO - I wish I'd bought 200!

CCA galleries - with images like this - will increase the price of each print as the edition sells. 50% gone? up the price ny 10% - 90% gone? - up it by 75% Last one? Highest bidder!

Their stuff is amazing - all handmade and you can TRUST them - should you want an original from any of their artists - well - you don't want to know!

My two copies of "back catalogue" sold, practically, as I was hanging them, I know I could sell them now for 5 times what I did, hec, I could have done that a month later and I also wish I had one for myself - I got in early - by the time I realised what I'd had - too late - gone!

I don't know if I'd class these prints as 'original' but I think the operative word here should be 'EXCLUSIVE'
 

wpfay

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To support the value of hand pulled prints, you only need to take a glimpse at what real collectors are collecting. You won't see any limited edition reproductions (or reproductions of any kind for that matter). The one exception is that the Giclee (Ink-jet) technology has gained foothold in the photographic field. Photography has always been technology driven so it is much more of a natural evolution, though there are some purists that stick to the dark room and hand applied emulsions, but I digress.

What you will see are etchings, lithographs (real ones...from stone), engravings, silk screens, woodcuts, wood engravings, photogravures, lino cuts, collotypes, monoprints, monotypes, etc... These date back as far as Dürer (check out the collection in the library at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC) to contemporary works by modern masters (Rosenquist, Motherwell, Held, etc...).

George, That being said, we are not the art police. Educate your customers to know the difference, but the name of the game is to swap pieces of paper with images on them for obscene amounts of money. You can grow wealthy doing that and amass your own collection of original prints, and a clientèle that appreciates them.
 
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