This is part one of a six part series on publishing and marketing your artwork.
You are an artist whose original work has begun to sell and you are finding it difficult to keep painting at the same rate. You are also disappointed that the more memorable and popular pieces—your masterpieces, could not be enjoyed by more people.
Perhaps you are an artist who completes a very few paintings a year due to the style and medium you are using. How can you consider making a living from your artwork? These and other questions are often asked by artists who are ready to consider whether the reproduction market is for them.
You have decided to take the plunge and make reproductions of your artwork! Perhaps you've heard the stories of artists wildly successful and financially independent due to the marketing of their art prints. Regardless of the stories you have heard, wild success in the "print market" is not the norm. However, before you get too discouraged, let me tell you that what is true for many artists today is that reproductions of their artwork can accomplish three very important purposes.
First of all reproductions make their artwork accessible to a greater number of people due to the lower price compared to an original painting. Secondly, this broadening of the artist's audience creates increased name recognition, an important marketing tool in today's competitive environment. And thirdly, it can assist an artist financially by increasing the opportunities for income earning from the effort placed on a single painting.
In this brief guide, I will acquaint you with a number of the common types of reproductions, methods of creating those reproductions and an introduction to marketing. I will also encourage you to do a serious analysis of your goals as an artist, your lifestyle and your work in an attempt to help you decide if this method of promotion is for you.
Just a short note about some of the terminology used in this guide. All references to any copy of an original piece created by an artists' own hand is labeled a "reproduction". Reproductions can take many forms from greeting, note and art cards, to posters or limited editions as well as gift products. Although commonly used in place of the word reproduction, the word "print" is reserved primarily for those multiple copies that are created by hand such as stone lithographs, etchings, monotypes or hand-pulled serigraphs. A definition list is included in the back of this guide for easy reference.
You are an artist whose original work has begun to sell consistently and you are finding it difficult to keep painting at the same rate. You are also disappointed that the more memorable and popular pieces—your masterpieces, could not have been cloned somehow to allow more people the opportunity to enjoy them.
Perhaps you are an artist who completes a very few paintings in a year due to the style and medium you are using. How can you consider making a living from your artwork? These and other questions are often asked by artists who are ready to consider the reproduction market.
As a publisher and distributor of fine art reproduction for the past 20 years, I have observed a major change in art marketing. This is due in large part to technological change making it easier than ever to reproduce a piece of art and market it world-wide. These increased opportunities for artists to enter the marketplace with their work also means they must exercise caution, be clear in their goals and evaluate each concept.
At the high-end of the market are the fine art original galleries and museums where the methods of artist showings and support are still effective for a small elite group. The vast majority however, are finding that the sheer number of artists and the costs associated with gallery showings prohibit them from earning a living exclusively from this source. That is why they have turned to retail art shows, studio tours, the internet, private showings and a variety of other means to reach the buying public. Unfortunately, these methods and the technological revolution via the internet have also contributed to the erosion of the marketplace for many traditional sales channels including the many a local gallery.
In turn, many galleries have now included the sale of reproductions and embraced the internet as a marketing tool. There are of course many shops/galleries now exclusively dealing in reproductions. This provides many new opportunities for artists to take advantage of a powerful marketing niche. Additionally, reproductions now take many forms including items that are functional, decorative and given as gifts.
The relatively low price of reproductions (as compared to originals), has created a whole new group of art collectors and buyers. As mentioned, galleries are discovering their ability to sell a wide variety of reproductions from art cards and posters to Limited Edition reproductions and giftware. Additionally, these reproductions are finding their way into gift shops, museum shops and an increasingly wider variety of outlets.
These factors combine to create a market that can support a volume of products and thereby provide a fair return for the artist. This volume also means that an increasing number of people will be able to obtain a piece of the artist's work and thus effectively advertise that work to a broad audience This self-financing form of advertising is often one of the most compelling reasons to consider self-publishing.
Myron Arndt is a Canadian living in Victoria, British Columbia. He has worked as a publisher and distributor of fine art and picture framing materials and services for over 25 years. Visit my blog at http://www.artbusinessthoughts.blogspot.com/