When do you reproduce your artwork?

I was working today with an artist on her marketing plan when this dilemma was brought up:

I had always assumed or been told that a high demand for original works is what drives the creation of reproductions. In other words, if you are selling everything you make or if you have one extremely popular image, reproductions to the rescue.

But . . . perhaps this isn’t always true. Does the offering of reproductions help create an audience and demand for the originals?

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5 comments to When do you reproduce your artwork?

  • I think it is *very* possible to create demand for originals by marketing reproductions… Many collectors start small and work their way up as they (and their income) mature. If you build a good relationship with collectors when they’re just starting out, you have an opportunity to continue that relationship into the future. Also, since reproductions are more affordable, they’re a great way to extend your brand into more areas than you could possibly reach by sticking to high end originals. It’s like getting paid to put your name out there…

  • Along with being a Fine Art Photographer, who prints and sells my own work, I am also a Printmaker. I deal with many brushstroke artists, creating reproductions for them. Here are a few observations if I may; Benefits of Reproductions: 1: It allows the artists to continue to generate income from a work whether the original has been sold or not. 2: Allows more people to have access to a single piece. 3: Allows the artist to retain ownership of the original and only sell reproductions should they wish. 4: Allows what may be a more comfortable price point for buyers wishing to buy a reproduction. 5: Allows the artist to release different sizes of a piece should they choose to. There are other benefits, but I”ll leave it there. Disadvantages Towards Reproductions: 1: Depending upon the method used to create the reproduction (litho, giclée, etc.) costs of creating a run may be prohibitive. 2: Preceived value of a reproduction may be an issue to some buyers. 3: There are many technical issues that come into play when creating quality reproductions. Longevity of the reproduction can be called into question if the printmaker is not knowledgeable on the process. Again, there are more, but I will leave it there. Finally, this may be helpful in determining if an artist should consider reproductions. One of the first questions I ask an artist is how much do they sell their original for. In my experience, the absolute most one should expect to ask for a reproduction is 25% of the price of an original. Any more than that and it simply doesn’t usually make sense for a buyer to consider buying a reproduction when they may be able to afford the original. Clearly this is a very short answer to a complex issue, but I hope it helps. Kenneth Lane Smith Fine Art Images

  • Warren Koch

    I am a gallery owner now and also a certified printmaker. As was previously noted this is a very complex issue and should be carefully considered for all its itracacies and how it affects each individual artist. We have very high-end equipment and provide museum quality, archival, giclee reproduction services only to selective artists, since we feel very strongly about the quality/cost/pricing issues. We are not in the service business since many artists cannot relate to these issues. Many think of it only as a process as to how cheap can I produce them and what am I going to make$$. This is not fair to the potential art buyer who we are trying to “cultivate” into collectors of art in general or our own art in particular! Reproductions are definitly not for everyone! A great book (although I don’t agree with 100% of it) for people who want to investigate the reproduction/print market is “How To Profit In The Art Print Market” by Barney Davey, http://www.barneydavey.com (P.S. I don’t get any commissions!) Its a great beginning tool for an insight into the print market! Warren Koch, CWK Productions Ltd.

  • George Miller

    I am an artist who makes a living selling lithos of my original work, (13yrs). I’ve just relocated to northern Florida from Cali where I had a great printer. I’m having problems finding a new printer and shipping from coast to coast is a bear. I’d like some recomendations from other artist who are happy with their east coast lithographer. Thanks George

  • Dana

    I have a friend you painted with acrylics a piece that we feel would be very marketable and popular. How do we go about 1. reproducing the piece into prints and 2. and then marketing the piece for sales…I am a marketing/advertising director for a bank so I have a basic understanding but need assistance with who to contact. Thanks so much!