"Fraud? This is Marketing!"
Full Disclosure vs. the Ongoing Limited-Edition-Print Scam
At the same time in a nearby printshop an art publishing company is scanning a color slide of a painting and preparing the color separations using industrial photomechanical techniques to reproduce the image. Their print run is in the thousands.
There are expert art sales people out there, both on and off Internet, who would have us believe that what is being produced in both cases are "limited-edition prints." Something here is gravely amiss, I submit.
of the Trade
That signature and edition number, it should be pointed out, are valueless in and of themselves. It's not the signature that makes a print valuable. What makes it worth money is the guarantee of a truly limited edition that the signature represents. That signature and edition number signify the artist's personal promise that those numbers represent the true edition and the only edition of that work of art. That promise is sacred, or should be.
The practice of calling reproductions "prints" may not even be illicit in strictly legal terms. But on ethical grounds it's shabby at best. At worst it's cynical and unscrupulous. It perverts the marketplace and does untold damage to printmakers whose laborious and authentic artwork is constantly and deliberately confused with industrial imitations which are little more than junk when compared with hand-pulled limited-edition fine-art prints.
Can We Do?
Artists Can Do
Include all of this, and any other information which may be relevant. Your clients will be reassured by this little bit of extra effort on your part. Would you like to include a brief couple of pages on printmaking in general and your techniques in particular? Better yet! This might also be a good opportunity to explain the difference between a print and a reproduction!
In these comments we have used etchings as the example, but all the same arguments hold true for the other graphic-art media: screen printing, lithography and linocuts. Nor do digital prints have to present an exception, if they are original digital files created in the computer and the resulting images treated as limited-edition fine-art prints.
Clients Can Do
World Printmakers Full Disclosure Campaign
Care to join us?
Read Andy MacDougall's thoughtful reply to this article, Food for Thought.
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