Thursday, May 26, 2011

Do Reproductions Devalue Original Artwork?

Twilight Rhapsody
20 x 20 Acrylic on canvas  $995.00
Over the last few years I have heard a lot of comments about reproduction prints of artwork devaluing the original paintings.  "Why would you want to buy a painting that has a had lots of reproductions made of it?" is the cry, and "I wouldn't want to see the lovely painting I bought as a cheap reproduction in Walmart!"

With the advent of POD (Print on Demand) sites like Fine Art America I expect that I will hear these comments more frequently however I disagree and here are my reasons.

Think about the Mona Lisa.  How many zillions of copies are there of that painting in the world?  Do you think these countless copies devalue that?  Of course not, it actually makes the original more valuable. If I bought a painting that I loved and then it was reproduced and became so popular that it was in shops and homes everywhere, I would be absolutely delighted and proud that I had the "original".  It's value in monetary terms would have increased and I would feel very good about my decision to have bought that artwork. An original is always special and unique.  Feel very happy if you own an original and never feel that a copy made of it takes anything away from that specialness.

Not everyone can afford original artwork but they may love an artists work and want to feature it in their home.  Art should be for everyone to enjoy and not just for those who can afford original work. 

How do you feel about this?

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Deborah Younglao, Silk Painter said...

I totally agree with you on this Susanne. I think that people of all budgets should be able to buy art they like, even if it's just a note card. I want whoever likes my work to have it in some form or fashion. Also, when the print buyer is ready to purchase an original, aren't they more likely to come to an artist they've already dealt with and whose work they know?

Susanne said...

I'm glad to hear your thoughts Deborah. I think some people buying original paintings are worried about the fact that their painting may be made into reproductions and I wanted to reassure them that it's actually a good thing, not a bad one, and confirms the wisdom of their choice. I think your comment that when a buyer is ready to purchase an original they will go to an artist they are familiar with is very true. Thank you for commenting.

Jo-Ann Dziubek-MacDonald said...

I'm with you, Susanne...I believe reproductions are a wonderful and cost effective way to share art across a broader spectrum of art lovers. Not everyone can afford an original, for sure!

Though I have had the odd person tell me that if the see an artist selling prints they will just walk on by, and will only look at and artist's work that is strictly originals only.

As far as I'm concerned, the more art in the world, repro or original, the better!

Susanne said...

Nice to hear that you feel the same way as I do Jo-Ann and more art in the world is a wonderful thing.

I think that the people who don't like reproductions perhaps haven't thought of the fact that it actually makes the original more appealing.

tomweinkle said...

Completely agree Susanne. I've been wrestling with this issue. I like to paint larger pieces, and they tend to price higher. The original is just that. Many people seem to want to own a piece, but just can't afford it. I see giclees as a sensible alternative.

tomweinkle said...

I agree with your thinking. I tend to work larger with my art, and therefore the pricing is higher than comparable work smaller works. I have had lots of requests for giclees, and so I am starting to explore the solution. I guess the trick is not to cannibalize your original work by thinking carefully about reproduction size, edition, etc.

Peter said...

I've often wondered if those people that are so snooty about painting reproductions also carry that principle into just reading original manuscripts of books, and insisting on having live musicians in their living room so they don't have to stoop to listening to recordings. What nonsense!

Susanne said...

Tom, thank you for your feedback. I also work large and that does make it harder for people who like the work to be able to purchase it. I think that a selection of reproductions is a good idea. Barney Davey is a good resource for info about the print market. If you haven't already heard about him, you can easily find him on the web.

Susanne said...

Peter, your comment was interesting and something I had never thought of. I'm sure that going to a concert and hearing the live music is preferred by many music fans but readings? Like all forms it's better to be able to enjoy it in some way than not at all.

Anonymous said...

You raise a lot of good points Susanne and I agree with you. Over the past few years, I've finally been in a position where I can buy some original works and I truly cherish them. Yet I have some reproductions that are just as dear to me and they have provided an opportunity to enhance our home with a nice variety of works. It's the best of both worlds in my mind.

~ Kathleen Krucoff

samthor said...

You are only competing with yourself by making reproductions. It does make the original less special and harder to sell. Often people who can afford the original will opt for the copy to save a few bucks.
If you want to get into making multiples at an affordable price range; then how about actually making prints. (etchings, lithographs, serigraphs, etc. ) they have a lot more credibility.

Susanne said...

Kathleen, thank you for your comments. It is nice to be able to afford an original now and then but I also have a couple of reproductions that I love. It is wonderful though when you see an original that really appesls to "go for it", spend the money, and have it to enjoy for years to come.

Susanne said...

Samthor, it's great to get your point of view. I have heard people say that by selling reproductions that your are cutting yourslf out of the sale of an original but I'm not so sure. If the person could afford it I think they will always go for the original and if they can't afford that then if you didin't have a reproduction perhaps you wouldn't get any sale at all.
I agree that a "real print" (etching, linocut, etc) is a great alternative and is an original usually at a more affordable price. I find that my "real prints" always do well because of this.

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