Again you are right on Bill.
I too believe that every sale is a gift, and I feel lucky to have it.
Answer here is simple Brian. Don't do it. No one is twisting your arm or making these "poorly reproduced" posters without your permission. If you know they will end up this way and it pains you so, why do even more?
Originally Posted by Early Riser
Bill, poor reproduction is one of the risks you take when you have any work reproduced by someone else. I've seen my work reproduced in magazines, newspapers, billboards, etc for nearly 30 years. I understand though that what I consider a poorly executed reproduction of my work may be viewed by the general public as still being a nice print. I have approval of the art but you know how it is, they show you a printers proof and then 2 weeks later go back on press and print 10,000. The printer's proofs are a joke, you need to be on press during the actual print run.
Originally Posted by billschwab
I continue to license my work because I am not in the position where I can afford to travel 5-6 months a year shooting as I do, spend a ton on equipment and supplies and not have some return on investment. I don't need to tell you how expensive this profession can be. I need to support myself and my work through the sale of prints and the licensing of my work. However that said I still cringe at poor reproduction.
A few years back the NY Times put my then NYC show on the recommended list ("the short list" as it's known) and was kind enough to reproduce "Breakwater" on the art listings page. However a panoramic format did not fit so they chose to crop the image to a square. They also reproduced it very badly, total mud. Part of me was really happy to have gotten the attention, part of me was concerned that my work, with my name attached to it, looked really bad and was now very public. This was not the first time this sort of thing has happened.
I know I can't have my cake and eat it too, but I think that I do have a right to feel dissappointed and that poor reproduction of my work doesn't reflect my efforts and ability. These situations can be both embarassing and possibly promotional at the same time. You don't feel the same way when it happens to you?
I've seen it mentioned a few times already in this thread that by artist selling their work on Ebay for cheep, it hurts other artists that are trying to do the same thing. I feel this is not true. The value of a piece of art is NOT with the process, but rather with the name.
The photographers that sell their work for $20.00 are stating that $20.00 is all their prints are worth, and rarely will anyone pay more. This does not mean that all photographers work are only worth $20.00, nor does that photographers "market value" of HIS work affect the market value of your prints.
In regards to being in a gallery and selling on Ebay at the same time, I think that is okay as long as your Ebay prices are the same or more as the print in the gallery. The other acceptable thing would be if you were selling cheeper prints that were not available in the gallery, such as special or open editions. Ebay can still reach a larger market of viewers around the world then a gallery can.
I do. I'm just realistic. I know this may sound trite, but after all these years I am still grateful to be in the position where someone wants to publish my work at all. I meet many deserving artists that never get the chance. I know it doesn't happen for everyone and am reluctant to sing my praises for fear it will all come crashing down. I have seen many people who think they had, or were going to "make it" just disappear. It can and will happen to any one of us trying to make our way like this. What I write here and in other threads is not designed to blow my own horn or boast of accomplishments, it is to give some perspective to those who think all is glamorous simply because you have gallery representation. You know the numbers Brian and you know as well as I how hard it is to make even close to a living doing this. Back to the original point, if you can do it by subsidizing your income on eBay... more power to you.
Originally Posted by Early Riser
Bill (printing his butt off before the break)
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This is an example of how artists undervalue their work. A gift is when you get something for nothing. It's just given to you without any effort or expense on your part. If you have taken the time to shoot the image, process the film, make a print, spot,mat and mount the print, you have made a serious effort and used your time and resources. When someone chooses to buy your work they are seeing value in it, they are choosing to possess it and are willing to pay for it. However it is only a fair exchange when you have charged the buyers, and have gotten paid, an amount that is reasonable and commensurate with the expense, effort and quality of the work you produce. Also for the buyer, you'll often find that the more people have paid for your work, the more they themselves value it. Human nature I guess.
Originally Posted by Ray Bidegain
The way that I view my print sales is not as a gift. I work extremely hard at what I do and spare no expense or effort. However I do view it as an honor that people would choose to make my work part of their home and their lives.
I'm confused by your position here. You started selling prints on eBay for $50 and over time, you rose your price. Now you're saying that people who sell prints at those same prices are doing everyone else a disservice for selling them too cheaply (by the way, the correct spelling is "cheap" - "cheep" is what baby birds do.) This seems like a double standard. Why was it OK for you to build a market for your work over time by starting with lower prices, but a bad idea for the other folks who have elected to do the same? At the end of the day, eBay is the ultimate free market system. We can praddle all day long about what we think our work is worth - how much it cost to make it, what is "fair", etc... But at the end of the day, you're selling a product and it's only worth what people are willing to pay for it. This is why (generally speaking) original prints from well-known photographers that pop-up on eBay from time to time sell for market prices (Brett Weston, Caponigro, etc...) However, it wasn't always that way for these guys. At some point, they had to build a reputation and audience for their work just like everybody else and most of them took decades to reach that point (a lifetime in some cases). As such, it seems perfectly acceptable to me for unknown photographers to offer prints on eBay at a lower price to build an audience. In this day and age, people have shorter attention spans than ever and many young photographers that I meet expect to bypass the long hard road it takes to build a name for themselves. With a few exceptions, careers are built over the long haul - even if the work is "good".
It's perfectly fine if someone sells their prints for cheap and slowly raises their prices.
Maybe you just confused what I said im my post. Sorry.
What I don't think is a good idea is when someone start low, then raises their prices and they don't sell...so they take them back down low. That's a bad idea.
Sorry about typos. No big deal.
Sure you work hard, travel 5 months a year, sleep in cheap hotels, etc, etc, etc.... you've said so many times here. No one could possibly accuse you of not working hard. We all do. But the way I see it, anytime someone can do what it is they love to do, it is a gift. As I said, there are a great number of photographers out there that are equally deserving. The fact you and I are where we are and they are where they are has as much to do with luck and a gainfully emplyed spouse as it does hard work. Take that away and we are in the back of B&W buying ads to self-promote with all the other want to be's.
Originally Posted by Early Riser
market econ 101
I love the nonsensical notion that, by pricing photographic work at a level the market will bear, sellers are somehow hurting higher-priced sellers, and should therefore desist.
Someone here complained that most artists undervalue their work; the evidence, however--gallery walls full of unsold photographic art--is that most over-price it. The only judgment of value that matters is that made by the buyer. This lack of economic understanding, whether it stems from ignorance or from ideology, is the major reason many photographic artists fail at the business of art. I speak as a person who sells photographic services and art as a sideline business, so I don't exempt myself from what I write.
That photography remains a sideline business for me reflects my understanding of its economics, as they apply to me. Based on what I can earn either practicing anesthesiology or creating photography, the marketplace obviously values my years of training and experience in the former capacity quite a bit more than in the latter, even though photography is much more enjoyable and fulfilling. Whinge all I want about how things "should" be different, they aren't. Most photographers and artists,frankly, are nowhere near as "good" (ie, sellable) as they think. Rather than accept this, they find all manner of excuses with which to explain it away. Reality bites.
Reality: photographic art is a luxury purchase for the majority of fine-art buyers (not talking about commercial photography here, or about wealthy art collectors), which competes for their discretionary income with other forms of art and entertainment. Ultimately the buyer must evaluate the work and place a value on it, expressed as the amount s/he'd spend to own it, in competition with everything else on which s/he could spend those dollars. This valuation encompasses considerations of the photographer's reputation and notoriety; the technical quality and aesthetic appeal of the work as judged by the buyer; as well as available alternatives--a movie ticket, a kitchen makeover, a new shirt. This is why a signed original Ansel Adams print of just about anything is going to fetch a higher price than a signed original Mike Sebastian of the same subject. Ansel is a little better known, and by far a better technician and aesthete. This stuff is so basic and obvious you'd think everyone would get it--but denial is a powerful human impulse.
Obviously, there are levels of price sensitivity among buyers; some will pay whatever is asked for a work, for a complex and individualized mix of reasons. Most simply will not pay the prices demanded for photography by little- or unknown photographers and galleries. Another hard and unwelcome reality that stubbornly persists despite being dressed up in various disguises.
Similarly, the photographer should be able to realistically appraise the potential value of his/her work to the buying public, based on the same factors as above, and make some hard choices about whether s/he can expect to make a living selling his/her work. Here is where most photographers seeking to sell their work fail. That they have failed is self-evident, since no one buys the work. This failure does not mean the work is "no good"; that's not the issue. The issue is one of value in the marketplace in which we all must ply our work. These sellers may console themselves with the attitude that the buyers are philistines; that they've been undercut by competitors; that they just can't attract the attention that will bring sales, etc. The simple reality is that potential buyers do not share the photographer's assessment of the work's value, and it remains unsold. This is fact, and must be accepted--somehow blaming the customer, the competition, or other unseen forces will not change it.
Like it or not, photography is different from other artistic media; the public looks at a photograph and, at some level, thinks "I could do that", an attitude they'd not assume about sculpture or painting. We all know it's not objectively true; but perception is reality, and the buyer's perception trumps the photographer's objective truth in the marketplace. Photography is more famiiar and accessible than just about any other form of art, and from the point of view of a seller, is a bit of a victim of its own success. Familiarity has bred contempt.
You may disagree with the market's verdict on your work, but you cannot escape its judgment if you wish to sell the work. It is simply absurd to continue to offer work priced above the level most people are willing to pay, and then to whine about one's lack of sales and about how one is being undercut by competitors. Those competitors are offering something of value at a price people are willing to pay. We may turn our noses up at it, or not share its creator's assessment of its artistic merit, in which case we have the option to go into any gallery and vote with our dollars on something much more expensive.
Brooks Jensen, disparagingly referenced in a previous post, understands the economics of the photographic art marketplace, disagree with him as you will on the particulars of his execution of his business. However, he's sold a lot of prints that someone must have liked well enough to purchase.