Thanks guys, this is exactly the type of debate I was hoping for!
I like the idea of limited editions as it makes me think my work is important and may be worth a lot of money in the future! But then again, who am I kidding? (don't get me wrong, I do value my work very highly - but that doesn't mean that others will).
So maybe I should just sell what I sell - each print will be signed and numbered but there will be no cap on how many will be produced. Then if I do happen to be represented by a gallery in the future, any new images can be printed in limited editions if neccessary.
Without sounding bitter myself, though most probably will do, I reajusted my whole out look on my photography recently. After my most recent exhibition, many people, both friends and visitors to the exhibition, told me that I was underselling my work, and that I should consider upping the prices. I knew that by doing this, the chances of selling any photographs would dwindle. I had to sit down and have a good long hard look at the situation, asking myself where now with my photography? before making any decisions.
Originally Posted by MikeSeb
Fortunately for me the decision was quite easy, mainly because I make a bloody good living from driving a truck through the night, so my bills are paid for. The prices of my photographs went up overnight, knowing that the chances of selling them in the U.K market, or any market, would be very slim. And do you know what, I don't give a **** I feel a release, because I know now that if someone buys one of my photographs, it will be going to someone who really values what I and many others here are trying to do, and also that I feel that I will be getting a fair price for my time spent in the darkroom.
It's a good way to look at it Stoo. I know myself and others are in the same spot. We've had some success in selling images, but what next? How do you judge and justify the prices. You must accept that you may lose money by making editions and hiking the prices up. The main idea here is that you must come over as a photographer and not just a hobbyist. If you can do that when marketing your work, I think it helps progress things. If you are underselling work, it can be detrimental as people associate it with cheap and mediocre work and expect more of the same... That's what I've experienced anyway. Like you say, you have a regular job. I have heard this many times from people I truly respect that do this as their main avenue for employment, and I always hear "Don't quit your day job!" Like a lot of visual artists, it can be a case of feast and famine. Usually the latter and occasionally the former if they have managed to gain some notoriety along the way.
I look at it the way you do though. I have a regular job (fingers crossed though with this economy!) I do price my work lower than what I would expect an established artist to get, but not as low as to make the purchaser think it's a commodity and mass producable item. If I can sell some work along the way and use the proceeds to offset materials and occasionally help out financially to acquire more equipment or tools, then I am fine with that. Now my time is another thing. To make photographs, I view that as downtime/relaxtion at this point as it is enjoyable. If my living depended on it, then it would be a different story. Then would I enjoy it as much? Doubtful.... If I could be lucky enough to get gallery representation, then obviously the prices will go up due to their commission of which 50% is not uncommon! Then matting, framing. It all adds up as an expense to the artist that has to be passed on or you are down on the deal.
Having editions is the way to go with a gradually increasing price as the edition progresses.
YMMV, and just my .02 cents.
I believe David Vestal wrote a column on this subjec several years ago and to sum it up. Galleries want the editioned prints and he didn't. So the prints that go to a gallery are and he also sells non editioned prints. Not of the same image. I believe he sells more non editioned prints than he did the limited over time.
I am a hobbiest. I enjoy making prints and showing them to friends and family but, I don't even dream of selling them....ok, sometimes I'll do a portraint shoot for fee but, I don't think that's the same as the "Fine Art" market.
As a hobbiest, I greatly appreciate the work of real artists and do buy from time to time. I earn a decent living as a programmer and don't mind spending some of it on art. I have paid much, much more than 20 quid for some photos and have no regrets. As a buyer, I am exceedingly put off by and tend to completely avoid the "Limited Edition" prints. To me, this is a...well, it is a marketing gimick. If a work is worthwhile...it is worthwile. It should not and really does not matter one iota whether there are ten copies or a thousand...the value is locked up in the viewers response to the art not in the dumb marketing gimicks. I buy art that moves me...based upon an emotional response not upon some marketing gimick. When I see art advertised as "limited edition" I am immedately put off and any emotional response I might have had is tainted by that repulsion to the marketing...
Last edited by BradS; 04-16-2009 at 12:29 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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One suggestion: Shoot wet plate collodion or daguerreotypes and your edition worries are over. Sometimes it's hard to let go of those 1/1 images, though.
Another thought: I'd rather not sell a print priced at $500 than sell ten for $50 each. I put way to much to much of my life into my work just to sell it just for the sake of selling it. But, like others have stated, I have non-art income that pays the mortgage and college tuition for my kids.
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If you limit your editions you will sell more than if you don't. 10/10 sold is more satisfying to me than 2 of infinity, and printing ten of one image is enough for me anyway. Just don't price them like your already famous and dead, and don't make the edition a ridiculous number that is the same more or less as an open edition. That said, your bottom price is too low. If someone likes it enough to buy it in the first place, they will very likely be willing to pay more than that. JMO.
That's just, like, my opinion, man...
Another vote for editions of 10, maximum. Do you REALLY want to print that same image dozens and dozens of times? Also, by doing editions of 10, you reduce the potential for variations between prints. If you want people to value your work, raise the price, because they won't value it if you don't.
Not to be a downer, but you took the words right out of my mouth Andrew. Sounds like Stoo has had a healthy photographer's epiphany as well. People that are hobbyists and rank amateurs always dream about making their living from their work. There is certainly nothing wrong with this. Many try and some succeed, but it is a far fewer number than anyone might think. The sad fact is that if you're in the position where the expensive and time consuming passion of photography is your hobby and you've got a table full of great lenses and cameras you've been able to collect over the years, DO NOT quit your day job. No matter how gifted you are, unless you are extemely fortunate, you will never live the life you are currently living. If you are able to sell one or even a few prints, you are lucky and should be very happy.
Originally Posted by Andrew Moxom
I always tell people to take their current salary and imagine how many $50 dollar prints... even $500.00 prints you would have to sell in a year to match it. It's a great dream and I wouldn't have it any other way, but the reality of it all is more than most are willing to deal with.
At this years rate I doubt my 2009 prints sales will make it onto my tax return. It's currently that good.
Originally Posted by billschwab
That's just, like, my opinion, man...