Breaking molds are usually easy to do. Bucking trends can be dangerous.
Going against the grain can ruffle feathers.
But we've never been ones to shrink from new concepts!
Ask ten fine art-photographers their opinions on the validity of 'Limited Editions', and you are likely to skip the 'opinions' part and go straight to all out fist-to-cuffs.
Do not pass go, do not collect $200.
Arguments for Limited Editions include:
- Increased scarcity
- Increased value
- Some galleries only accept LE prints
- Some collectors are only interested in LE's
- Value of prints increase as the scarcity increases
Arguments against Limited Editions include:
- False inflation of a prints value
- 'Manufactured' scarcity is not the same as actual scarcity
- Many photographers 'limit' their Edition sizes at several hundred. Even 1,000. How is that considered 'limited'?
- Decreased availability
- Questionable practices by some photographers
- 'It's a scam'
There are obviously more opinions than just the few I've listed here. But regarding the last one - "It's a scam" - I've heard this mentioned quite frequently.
I find it a very cursory response to a very difficult topic. I know of several extremely talented, and incredibly ethical, photographers that offer LE's of their work that would be greatly offended by this claim. They are nothing if not ethical.
We (my wife and I) went through quite the journey in our quest for an answer. As strongly as I wanted to offer traditional Limited Edition series prints, I felt even more strongly regarding some of the negatives associated with the practice.
One of my personal beliefs is that,
Art should be accessible to more people, rather than less.
I never wanted to alienate some buyers in favor of others, simply due to cost.
I was hit by 3 great realizations.
I don't care if I make my living as a photographer
As I will be discussing in another post (in my 'A Selfish Art' series), I no longer feel the need to obtain the status symbol of 'Professional Photographer'.
I simply refuse to have my art tainted by the over-reaching drive to make money from it.
Regardless of my 'current job title', I am a photographer.
It is who I am, in my heart.
I don't have to follow trends or prescribed methods
It's art, damnit. Rules are for people that need structure to conform.
I've never done well with that.
In the end, I realized that no matter what you do, or what choices you make - someone will always speak negatively about it. You could donate $1 billion to cancer research, and some moron will argue that you could have done 'more'.
In the end, you have to chose what feels right for you.
Damn the naysayers. 'Haters gonna hate'.
I can create my own system.
The two previous realizations led directly to this choice.
When the system doesn't accommodate features that you desire, create a new system.
With that in mind, we asked ourselves what we wanted to offer. It was a long list, but we knew that we needed to simplify it. Complicated is never better.
We wanted to continue to offer Open Edition prints, in multiple sizes.
This addresses my desire to keep art attainable - at least to a broader audience.
In our Open Edition, each image is offered in a range of sizes. Depending on the file size (typically based on the type of camera the image was captured with), different images can be printed larger than others.
All Open Edition prints are signed and printed on high quality, Epson 'Signature Worthy' paper. They are not numbered or dated.
We also wanted to offer something different, for discerning collectors.
Something truly limited.
We call them Renditions. We are really proud of them.
Here's how it works...
When I realize that a new image belongs in our Collection, the digital file is 'mastered', and readied for public release.
How do I 'master' an image? I work on it until I am really happy with the results, and confident enough to show it to others. Trust me, I'm very protective of my unfinished work - just ask my wife.
Even she doesn't get to see most images until I open the doors of my office and invite her to take the first look. It's part of my creative process. The image must be solely developed - only then can I be sure that it is a true representation of my vision.
Once the image is mastered, that file becomes the first Rendition and the template for all future Open Editions. It is just resized for the necessary print sizes. No further changes ever happen to Open Editions.
Here's where it gets interesting. Rendition prints are always available in just the largest size that image is offered in.
For example, one of my popular prints is 'Winter's Embrace'. It is available as a 12"x18", a 16"x24", and as a 20"x30" Open Edition print.
They are all identical, and only vary by size.
A Rendition print however, is only available in the largest size option for that particular print - in the case of 'Winter's Embrace', as a 24"x36"
It is signed, numbered (as 'Rendition #x'), and dated (with the printing date).
It is also printed on a special paper - one chosen that portrays that image best. For some images, that means using a hyper-glossy paper, or a subtly textured gloss-less surface.
It really depends on the image & the characteristics I am attempting to impart.
Here's where Renditions are really different though. Once the first Rendition is sold, it will never be recreated for sale again**.
It is truly an Edition of One. A 'one of one'.
One of a kind.
When a collector contacts us about purchasing a Rendition of 'Winter's Embrace' (as an example), we inform them that 'Rendition #1' has been sold, and offer them 'Rendition #2'.
What separates Rendition #1 from #2? Or #2 from #3... or from #48?
I rework the image from it's origin file (photographers know this as the RAW file). It is the 'straight from the camera' version. In the darkroom world, it would be akin to going back to the original negative film to create an entirely new print, with a whole new set of printing instructions!
I start over.
Digital techniques change. Technology advances. Computer programmes become more intelligent, offering improvements, and more options. New skills are learned. Tastes change. Papers change. Inks change. Printers change.
I mature, and my options mature as well.
The new Rendition may show subtle changes over the previous one, or it may be a drastic change. When speaking with a prospective Rendition collector, we may decide that a black & white version may be a very interesting direction to take, despite Rendition #1 (or #1 through #35) being in color.
It gives me a chance to be creative.
Just like Rendition #1, this new Rendition (once printed and sold) will never be recreated.**
An Edition of One.
Instead of it becoming the template for more Open Editions, it is only printed once, and does not affect the Open Editions - nor will it become available as an Open Edition.
Open Editions are only created from the original Rendition #1 master file, are never changed, and are available in all but the largest size for each print.
There are no limits to the total number of Renditions created.
Only that each is truly unique.
This guarantees that each collector receives the ultimate print, one that is unhampered by technologies and techniques from the past.
Our Rendition Collection is unlike anything on the art market today.
Each Rendition print is truly one-of-a-kind.
Mastered for you.
And only you.
If you are interested in your own Rendition print(s), please contact us. We would love to help you.
Photographers - I'd love to hear your thoughts on our concept.
Keep in mind, we understand that this system won't work for everyone. Heck, you may even hate the concept.
We get it.
It's not right for everyone. But it is right for us.
**We may recreate a Rendition print, solely for use in a gallery as a display piece. However, that copy will bear the 'GP' (Gallery Print) nomenclature, and will never be offered for sale.