Displaying articles for: 06-28-2009 - 07-04-2009
Limited editions have been around as long as printmaking. What exactly does it mean in today’s digital world though when another copy of the image is just a couple of mouse clicks away?
First, your customers have an expectation that the print they’re buying has a greater value than an open (or unlimited) edition print of the same image. But, the quality itself may be exactly the same. So what are the differences, and are they still important?
A limited edition must have a firm and guaranteed maximum number of prints available. For example, you might decide to limit your edition to 50 prints. Typically, you’d number each print, then provide a certificate of authenticity with the print stating what number that print is in the edition (i.e. 10 of 50) and when the image was printed. The certificate should be signed by you if you’re printing one of your own images and by the artist/photographer if you’re printing for a client.
Now, does this mean you can only have 50 copies of an image and never print again? Of course not. An open edition could be done of the same image without the authenticity and numbering information. What makes the limited edition more valuable is the guarantee that you’ve done the work on the print yourself, rather than having some outsider do the work on potentially inferior materials. An example of this is Ansel Adams prints – you can buy open edition posters and reprints, but you’re going to pay a premium for a print that is done from the negative.
Personally, I won’t do open editions on the same media that I use for the limited-edition print. For example, if I’m doing the limited edition on HP Hahnnemuhle Smooth Fine Art, then I won’t do an open edition of that print on the same paper in the same size as the limited edition.
You can also have any number of sizes of a limited edition. For example, I might do fifty 16 x 20 and fifty 11 x 14 prints. The key is that there will only be 50 of any given size. If you intend to do this, you need to be clear about it so that your customers aren’t left with the impression that there will be 50 prints total, regardless of size.
I also place additional information about the print on the back of the mounting board. This information includes when the image was captured, where it was taken (if it’s not obvious), and other details that a collector might find useful or add value to the purchase.
Also, you need to keep records of when a limited edition print is sold, and to whom you’ve sold the print. This is for the client’s protection and yours. Careful record keeping is your insurance that you can certify the authenticity of the print and the limited nature of the run.
Also consider pricing. A limited-edition print should be priced appropriately higher than an open edition. If you’re selling normal 16 x 20 prints for $100, a limited edition print should be in the $200 range (or more). You want the buyer to feel that they are getting something special. By default, a limited edition is a collectible piece of art or photography and should be treated as such.