Isn’t it easier to sell your work as prints? I have been asked this a few sometimes by my friends and well wishers. While I admit that the thought has crossed my mind in the past and while I do not have anything against artists who create prints, my heart is still with creating original work. In this world of replicas and mass produced products something so tactical as handmade art is still personal and brings massive joy. Take for example this piece of artwork below, 11x14 inches acrylic on canvas was bought by a client for her special someone for a special occasion. I was so thrilled to receive a heartfelt thank you note with a picture of this original piece on her bedroom wall.
It has to do with quality, uniqueness, and connection. To me, buying art from a mall or a store is like buying furniture from a warehouse. While the ease of purchase and decision making sounds appealing, when you buy a replica from one of these stores, you are essentially buying a photocopy on a piece of paper. If you are looking to hang something to cover the barren walls then I can try to understand why you would make such a purchase but even then why would you?
Don’t get me wrong the image can be colorful, bold, catch the attention of the audience etc. However, does it have the nuances captured by the visible brush strokes or movements of the artist’s hand? The textures, materials, and specialized handiwork of the artist simply do not translate.
When you order commissioned artwork or original art you know it is unique, not duplicated. Setting aside the ingenuity for a minute, another reason why original art is of higher value is the connections you build by buying from an artist you like. It is a glimpse into the artist’s life, their unique perspective and their inner thoughts. Many small artists like myself would not hesitate to talk to you about their style, and their technique so there is a personal connection. If you like a particular artist’s style, more often than not they will be happy to connect you with artist’s with similar style.
Art is created to lift your souls and build vibrant, enriching lives. So it is important to understand what you are buying so there is no ambiguity. Pre-covid when I used to meet clients or patrons in the studio or home they would be full of questions about the difference between original art, prints, wall art and editions. It is very important they know what they are investing in. While perceiving art like the lottery is not the right way to go about it, anything purchased from a professional artist will have an associated value in most cases.
Let's get this out of the way, an original is the original work of art or a series of images that the artist has approved, signed and or numbered for a certain number of copies. If you prefer prints then make sure they are signed. If not they are wall art or posters, not original. This might also mean that the work was copied without the artist’s permission and hence of lower value.
Having something special, something unique, can evoke a sense of positivity and sense of belonging not just a number or audience. Artists create an opportunity for the buyer that they are special, wholly unique. Artists on the other hand cannot have just money as the reason for making and selling copies of their work.
At the end of the day it's an artist’s choice to create and how they make money to run their business but you as the audience are in a powerful position to make your choice. I leave you with a quote I love: “The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before” - Neil Gaiman