Thursday, November 5, 2009

Limited edition prints and giclees

Limited edition prints vs. giclees

What is a Limited edition print?

-A limited edition print refers to a print, usually on paper, which is a part of a series of a certain amount determined by the artist and/or publisher. The method of producing such prints usually involved silk screen or plate printing. These types of printing require the image to be broken down and translated into a process color (CMYK) or a spot color. The limited series is printed all at once and when completed all means of production are destroyed. In order to make more prints of that image the process would have to be repeated all over again. With traditional methods of production it is impossible to reproduce a previous series exactly. The final product may look like the same quality but will have been produced unavoidably with variations from another series. Sort of like how lightning never strikes in the same place twice.

What is a Giclee?

-A giclee is a relatively new method of print production which involves ink jet technology. The word Giclee actually comes from the french language meaning squirted. Ink jet technology actually ejects each droplet of ink at a time onto the print surface.

Can you make a Limited edition Giclee series?

-Sure, there are ways to limit a series. But, First consider the purpose of limited edition series prints. This is a common marketing method of limiting supply of something to make it more valuable. Paper prints are commonly produced on very inexpensive materials and printed fast. This marketing method made it easier to justify inflating the price point. Now, consider a giclee. To produce a finest quality giclee takes, sometimes, hours. Ink jet technology is now capable of ejecting droplets on a nano scale called picoliters. A picoliter is a trillionth of a liter. That's an unimaginably small about of liquid. What this means is the resolution of a giclee can out perform any previous method of reproduction ever created! This allows for a huge amount of the available digital color to be expressed on a print. Simply put, you get more colors expressed and a much higher level of detail. This means you are dealing with a much higher quality product which, limited or not, allows for a much higher price point.

OK, I dont care. How can I make a limited edition giclee series?

-If you must provide your buyers with something that is a “limited” series I have a few suggestions.

  1. Embellished Giclees are the best way to make a limited series. For those of you who are not familiar with Embellished, it simply means you paint over a print with as much or as little as you like. It is common for artist to enhance areas of bright or intense colors but really the possibilities are endless. It is all up to your personal expression. This means that any embellished print is a 1/1 series print. That makes it the Highest value possible because there are no more exactly like it. But, there is no need to number it. You only need to refer to it as “embellished giclee.”

  2. Delete any digital record of an image after you have run a completed series is another method of limiting a series. You will need to delete the scan or digital photo file (or any slides or negatives) used to make the print, delete any final copies of the print ready version of the file. Make anyone involved in the process takes the same action. No one can have a copy of the file once the image has been created. So keep track of who was involved like a photographer, scanner, printer, and yourself. This is a sketchy method of limiting a series simply because it is difficult to completely eliminate digital information. A good computer technician could recover deleted data from a hard drive.

  3. Resize the image ratio (adjust length and/or width) of the image could also allow you to run similar sizes without truly being an addition to a previous limited series.

A few words of caution

- Keep track of what you print as a limited series. Digital information is exact and if you rerun a print from a series it ethically and technically invalidates the prior “limited series.” If a publisher sold a series of prints and did not destroy all methods of production and then re ran another series using the same plates that company could get in big trouble. As an artist you should still be ethical and responsible about what you are calling limited.

A simple remedy

-Print as many giclees as you want and charge top dollar for them. And charge even more for a “one-of-a-kind embellished giclee.” The technology, method of production, and quality justifies the higher price point. I cant stress quality enough. When it comes to educating your buyer about the product remember quality quality quality! What they are buying is the best that human technology has to offer in the way of print production.


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