As of 2011, No More Limited Editions

Heck with all this. Read Brooks Jensen’s article.

…..

I discussed this topic over the past year with a couple posts (first post, second post), and I have come to the conclusion that it is best for me to break the limited editions for all of my prints.

  • If you purchased my work for the sole purpose of investing in a limited edition piece, and this news upsets you, please contact me and we can discuss this on a one-on-one basis.
  • If you were considering purchasing my work because of its limited nature, and this news has adversely affected your decision, I apologize. But I’m glad I got the news out to you in advance!
  • If you purchased my work for aesthetic, emotional, historic, or other personal reasons not related to the implied limited nature of the specific print, thank you! And I look forward to appealing to more people of a similar mindset!

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Specifics

Instead of offering my prints in a limited edition of (say) “x of 250”, each new print will have a single number in the corner. This will basically be a serial number. It will represent the number of copies of the specific image in circulation up to that point (not respective of print size). Each of my Certificates of Authenticity will be updated to reflect this. For images in now-broken editions, I will continue the series of their print number but simply not write “/250” after it. As for the older prints in my inventory which still have “x/250” on them, the “250” will be rendered meaningless. New images for 2011 — which have not yet been printed — will not be in limited in the first place.

My reasons / assumptions

  • Limited editions are an artificial and self-imposed limitation placed on the creative process.
  • The rules for limited edition printing go back 500+ years, and they break down when applied to a digital workflow.
  • According to “the rules”, I was doing it wrong from day one, and it was too late to fix it. (I was including multiple print sizes in a single edition, which is a big no-no according to some.)

Side effects

Some art festivals and galleries have strict rules requiring digital photography to be offered as limited edition prints, and my decision is preventing my work from ever getting into those events. I’m comfortable with that. (This does not affect my ability to get into art festivals in Oklahoma.)

Even though this allows me to press the print button a zillion times, I will NOT abuse the privilege. To be honest, my edition of 250 for each image was way too high — In the three years I have been selling work, I have rarely printed over 30 copies of any given image, and I’m likely to get bored with an image long before I approach 250. In fact I have already stopped printing some of my first-year images due to a lack of sales. More will be rotated out in 2011. (They might be remaindered at reduced prices, we’ll see..)

Alternative

I have been bouncing around the idea of posting on my website the current number of copies of each photo sold so far. (I already keep a sales database, so this number is simple to generate.) This would serve as the “live” counterpart to the “/250” I was handwriting on the prints. This can also indicate the number of the next print for sale. If I decide to stop printing a certain image, I will mention that printing has halted, and that number will freeze.

Downsides

  • This might seem irrelevant because there’s nothing stopping me from resuming printing of a formerly halted image.
  • This will include stolen/missing prints (of which I have several.)
  • This will require a redesign of my website, which (thanks to my full time job) I don’t often have the time to do.
  • It might pose a problem of customer privacy (despite the website not containing any specific customer data). Depending on how often I update the number, this might make it easier to figure out when a given customer bought what. (Then again, you’d have to know which image they bought ahead of time.. or something.)
This entry was posted in Rants.