The fine art print market is showing signs of recovery. Giclee print sales are steadily improving. Fine art printers are noticing new business, as are galleries.
The June/July issue of Art World News carried a positive outlook for the art print market in a cover story titled, “Today’s Print Market Gains Momentum.” It is “must reading” for artists seeking to understand what is happening in the marketplace.
The article interviewed a number of top industry professionals including artists, fine art giclee printing atelier operators, including Joyce Kaspryzk of MFA Talon, and Alan Blazar of Blazing Editions.
The article included quotes from Greg Bloch of Triad Publishing, one of the top fine art print publishers in the business. A number of leading gallery owners are quoted in the extensive piece.
The general consensus was business is improving. It still has a long way to go to get back to where it once was. That sounds a lot like our economy in general.
There is advice to keep edition sizes smaller. This goes hand-in-hand with the suggestion to work on making prints unique with such things as hand-embellishments that help to make each piece stand out to collectors.
The discussion of how big editions were “shopped” online by collectors, which in turn made galleries reluctant to carry them. This then caused the whole print market to go on tilt to some degree, and just at the time the market could least afford any distribution disruption.
My advice to artists is when you work with galleries, give them exclusives. Don’t compete with your galleries. Check your gallery’s pricing to make sure they are low-balling your prints to the harm of your other galleries. When you sell prints that are similar in size, subject and so forth online, make sure your prices are equivalent to what is being sold in galleries.
It is tempting to lower your giclee print price to get the sale, but if doing so harms your reputation, lowers the value of your work, and causes distrust between you and your galleries and dealers, is it worth it? In the long run, your reputation and integrity are worth more than a low-ball sale. The few dollars from it will be long gone while the ill wind that comes from such activity will remain for a long time to come.
Seriously, if it comes down to the only way you are making it is by selling at steep discounts, then perhaps you need a full-time job so you don’t have to put so much pressure on making sales at any cost. Try looking for arts opportunities so you can smooth out your fine art print sales.
There is nothing wrong with working full-time for the man. If it is a good job, you will have benefits and time off to work on your art. These days, I see this happening more and more. That is, we put off chasing our dreams full-time by taking a full-time job.
There is going to be plenty of time for your career to blossom, just take care of it and your reputation now. Take advantage of renewed interest in the fine art print market and get a bit more aggressive with what you are doing, but within reason.
There has never been a time like this. And, I’m taking good times for artists. That is because visual artists today have the opportunity to control the direct distribution of their work as never before. You can’t count on anyone but yourself. Whether it’s dawned on you or not, it’s a fact of life.
I think working with galleries is grand. I do not advocate avoiding galleries. I do advocate for artists to setup and control as much direct distribution of their work as possible. It’s the future. In the future, it may be the best thing you have going for yourself and your art career.