Saturday, June 27, 2009

Do you make editions?

One of the Fraction photographers recently asked me about editions. He currently sells his work in editions but a potential buyer criticized his edition structure and pricing. For me, I am unsure about editions and don't print my work in editions.

So, I would love to hear about what other photographers.

Do you print in editions? If so, why?

Is the edition limited to size?

Does the price increase with each sold print?

If you do not print/sell in editions, why not?


  1. I've thought about this a lot. Yes, I print all of my work in editions. I think there's a tricky balance - size of the print, price, number of sizes offered, total number in the edition.

    Why do I do it? Because it has become the accepted practice in the fine art world and it's what people have come to expect. I hope to someday be selling my work through a gallery, and I think many gallerists would balk at the idea of selling work in open editions.

    My edition sizes are large enough that my best prints have sold out, but just barely. I think that creates a kind of incentive for the buyer also. If there's a chance that a particular print might sell out and you've just got to have it, well, now's your chance.

  2. Yes, absolutely I make editions.

    I think of myself more as an artist who uses photography in my work, rather than a photographer. So with that mind-set I never considered an open edition, since I am used to selling individual paintings. But I agonized and researched endlessly when I first started producing photographs as to what is the right approach and edition size. Most of my images I produce in both a large and small size and initially I started off with a combined edition of 10 (either large or small) but that got rather confusing so I have now separated my editions. I now produce the same image in a large size format in an edition of 5 and a small size in an edition of 7. I wanted to keep the edition size small enough so there is still some feeling of unique ownership, yet have enough prints to be able to show in a few places at once. This seems to work for me and my galleries for now.

    In regards to the price increasing as the edition sells. I think that may be very particular to certain galleries, as it is a useful marketing tool for them. I don't actually do that myself, but if a gallery that I worked with wanted me to, I don't think I would have any objections.

  3. The idea of an edition is something that I find fundamentally contradictory with the nature of photography. Unlike any other medium there is no inherent edition size, and we have the ability to make identical (or near identical) reproductions ad infinitum. Editions to me feel false, they rely on the law of diminishing returns to maximize profit (which I obviously see a benefit to, as artists need to eat) at the cost of availability of quality work. It seems to be a continuation of the insecurity of the youngest (not anymore) of the mediums trying to fit in with its brethren. There is a psychological need for art to be a luxury, expenditure, and an investment; and editions create the structure that justifies high image prices due to their imposed rarity. Therefore, I am opposed to editions and I do not make them (but I have).

  4. I feel closer to Jordan on this one. In fact, since I don't like wasting materials and I think I already have enough of an environmental impact with all my color film shooting, I don't often print images at all.

    Many times, the actual exhibition prints are the only non-test prints in existence for an image, so people who buy work at my show often have a one of a kind print, until the show goes up again elsewhere.

    Besides that, I work primarily in books and zines. I've made small editions of each, simply because I don't have the time or funding to make large print runs, and then make a Print On Demand edition available online. My last zine had 10 color and 15 black and whites available, as an example, the colors sold out rather quick.