Just a thought about editions

Being a screenprinter, I was particularly interested in the prints on show at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition when we went to see it recently.

I may get a chance to discuss the exhibition itself later but I was just wondering about editions. Work 232 was Servant of the Moon, a small woodcut by Liam Ryan. It is an edition of 500 at £15 each. I’ve never known any work as cheap as this. However 500 times £15 is still £7,500. OK, 30% goes to the RA as commission and there may be VAT to pay but that’s still a fair amount to the artist and there were quite a few red spots next to it on the second day of viewing.

Compare this with, for example, Work 502 which was an etching called Unfolding 2 – An Understanding Of Drawing As Described By Matisse by Fianne Stanford. This was an edition of 20 at £500, giving a total of £10,000 which is comparable to Liam Ryan’s.

While it’s interesting to compare the pile-it-high-sell-it-cheap approach with the more exclusive approach, the “thought” referred to in the title is only loosely linked with this.

Has anyone produced a work of art which is sold in different amounts at different prices? What I have in mind might be a large tree branch. The saw, safety glasses and thick gloves would obviously be part of the work. The amount cut off by the purchaser would be weighed and priced accordingly. Someone just wanting to be able to say they have a piece of a work by the artist would cut off a small piece and only pay a small price. A collector wanting a significant piece to display would cut off a larger piece and pay more.

Alternatively, a large painting could be cut up and sold according to the area. In printing, a varied edition is one where the process used is such that it is not possible to get exactly the same result each time. However, each print would be the same size and cost the same amount to buy. What I’m suggesting is an edition which varies by the amount of the original work bought. My question is simply whether anyone has done this. Have they?


About notes to the milkman

I'm a printmaker based in the North West of England, living in Bolton and printing at Hot Bed Press in Salford. Please visit my website johnpindararts.weebly.com
This entry was posted in Art, Art Gallery, Artists, exhibition, Print, Printmaking, Techniques, Works and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Just a thought about editions

  1. It reminds me of something I saw on a blog a while ago here, don’t think people paid for parts of the art tho. http://clintonmckay.tumblr.com/tagged/Cut-Piece

  2. I tend to work out the price of an etching, roughly, by the square inch-age of the plates used and the number I expect to sell, but am too useless at maths to expand this into a usable formula. Can someone out there please come up with an equation, or sliding scale or whatever, that we rightbrainers can use to price our prints?

    • The secret of the maths is to remove all the variables and only have constants. My prints are all the same size and I have the same edition size so my selling price is the same each time. Simples.

  3. Drew Kail says:

    I have not heard of this before, but am really intrigued by the idea. My business cards are cut from prints that turned out slightly flawed from my editions. They are snippets of the larger works, and people love them. The fact is, however, that they are business cards and I would never charge. But what if I cut up an actual print into different sized “puzzle” pieces priced accordingly.

    • I suspect it was your post about cutting up your prints as business cards (with manually typed personal details) for the event you attended which probably planted the seed of the idea in my mind in the first place.

  4. Deanne says:

    I’m not a printmaker, but I have been looking into pricing of editions for photographs and finding it’s all over the map. I think the higher price / lower edition number is the “High Art” strategy and the huge edition / lower number is something I would go for on the internet for example. Of course, with photography, digital imaging renders the concept of editions simply a conceptual game at some point. With anything like etching, screenprints etc I think it’s still true to the idea of value at the lower numbered editions. Like to see a post on this.

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