Friday, October 14, 2011

What Exactly is a “Limited Edition Print?”

The concept and language use of the term “limited edition print,” is often confusing and misunderstood. So, to begin with, let’s take a look at the terms “limited” and “edition” in hopes that we can gain some insight.

The word LIMITED indicates something that is small in range or scope. This one is pretty straight forward, meaning that there is a finite number of things in question.

EDITION refers to a collection of prints from the same original and usually printed at the same time. So if you print 50 images all at once, those 50 images are part of the same edition. If you print 30 more at a later time (and maybe at a different size or on a different medium) that would be considered another edition; not part of the original first edition. (See Wikipedia for more information.)

So when we combine “Limited” and “Edition” it implies that a small set number of prints were made from the original art at the same time and of the same size, implying that no further prints will be produced.


Wikipedia defines a “Limited Edition” or “Special Edition” in the following way:

Limited editions have been standard in printmaking from the nineteenth century onwards. There is a genuine need for the concept here, as many traditional printmaking techniques can only produce a limited number of top-quality impressions, as copies of prints are known. This can be as few as ten or twenty for a technique like drypoint, but more commonly would be in the hundreds or thousands. But here as in other fields, the use of the concept has become largely driven by marketing imperatives, and has been misused in parts of the market. In particular, lithographic, photogravure, rotogravure, and computer reproductions of prints, derived from photographs of an original print, which are most unlikely to have any investment value, are often issued in limited editions implying that they will have such value. These need to be distinguished from the original artist’s print, carefully produced directly from his work in whatever the printmaking medium is, and printed under his supervision.


The concept of “limited editions” is a byproduct of historic printmaking techniques. Prior to modern photography, artists were limited to a range of printmaking techniques to create multiple reproductions of an art piece. These techniques typically included a plate of some sort that was used to create impressions on the final print medium. These plates were physically incapable of lasting indefinitely and many were only capable of producing a small number of prints before deteriorating past a usable state. The prints derived from these plates were also usually created at the same time because of the process involved to do so — it just wasn’t as feasible to create one at a time based on demand.

And so limited editions were not a marketing ploy to impose scarcity or even something that the artist chose to do. It was a burden of necessity based on the technology. The artist would make their prints, number them, and possibly sign them. And that was the end of that.

In today’s digital age, things are not so cut and dry as they once were. In order to avoid confusion or disputes with potential buyers, it is important to be careful about the terminology you use to describe your work and your limited edition prints. Always be forthright and honest as to the edition size and if there are any current of future editions of this original work planned. Finally, choose wisely in your relationship with your digital atelier or printmaker. Their knowledge, expertise and reputation can go a long way is assisting you and pointing you in the right direction.

Adam Brown

Osio-Brown Editions Website

Giclee Printing FAQs

Thursday, September 15, 2011

4 Critical Steps to Sell More Art

(Brought to you by our friend Jason Horejs of Xanadu Gallery)

“What do you do?” you’ve been asked many times.

“I am an artist” is most likely the response that instantly comes to your lips. You have probably been giving this answer from a very early age. No matter what else you’ve done in your life, being an artist is the core of your identity.

For a few minutes today, I want to encourage you to make a silent addition to your response. You will still answer “I am an artist,” but in your mind you will add “and, I am a salesperson.”

I know the suggestion might be slightly unpleasant. Many artists (maybe you?) feel that artistic integrity and salesmanship are incompatible. I have found, however, that the most successful artists are those who have developed strong sales skills.

Whether you are trying to sell directly, at an art festival or open studio tour, or indirectly by approaching a gallery with your work, sales skills are going to help you reach your goal. That goal is to help people who love your art buy it.

When I first started selling art almost 20 years ago, I had very little idea of what it took to sell. I think my general attitude was, “the art will sell itself.” In the years since I have learned that the art will generate interest, but it is much more likely to sell if I do and say the right things.

While there are many elements to a successful sale, the process itself is simple once you understand your role. Today I would like to discuss just a few key steps that will help you better sell your art. These are guidelines I have developed, and continue to develop, through many years of selling art.

Build Strong Relationships

Look at each viewer of your work as a person. Your potential buyers have needs, passions, strengths and weaknesses. Your #1 goal is to build a long term relationship. Salesmanship is not about using tricks to fool the buyer into pulling out a credit card. You should instead be working to get to know the buyer and understand his/her desires, interests and needs.

You can get the relationship off on the right foot by doing several simple things. First, be bold when you introduce yourself. Extend your hand and say “good afternoon, I am Bill Smith, this is my art.”

Second, ask potential buyers for their names then learn those names! This is not the time for you to say “but I am terrible with names.” Learning names is a skill, and it is a skill you must work to develop if you want to build strong relationships.

As soon as I hear names I try to repeat them back to the customers, “nice to meet you Jim and Nancy,” and I then repeat the names over and over in my mind to cement them in my short term memory. I also write the names down as soon as I can.

Third, ask a lot of questions. The best way to get to know someone is to get them talking about themselves. When you are interacting with buyers, your goal should be to have them talking about 75-80% of the time. I find many artists and even gallery staff who think they should be doing most of the talking when they are trying to sell, when actually the opposite is true.

Tell a Story

While a great piece of art will attract a buyer, a great story will sell it. I meet many artists who feel they should let the art speak for itself. This ignores an important human interest in narrative. While each buyer is going to bring their own interpretation to a work of art, they are also interested in your inspiration. They want to understand the process for creating the art. What you tell them about the piece will become a part of the narrative they share with friends, family and business associates who see the art in their home or office.

Give your Potential Buyers Space

While it is important to engage potential buyers and tell them a story about the art, it is also critical to give them some space. I find selling art to be a little dance. I will introduce myself and start to get to know the potential buyers, and then I will step back to let them look at the art. When they pause in front of a piece, I come back in to tell them about the work and the artist, before stepping back again to let them discuss the art.

This is especially important when working with a couple. You want to allow them to discuss the art without feeling like you are hovering over them.

Giving customers space is easy in a gallery setting, but even in a small booth at a weekend art show, or in your studio, find a way to back off enough to give clients some privacy. You might have to step several feet out of the booth, or go to another room of your studio.

Before making a purchase, buyers want to discuss the decission. They want to know for sure that spouses or partners feel the same about the art that they do. Far better for you to give them some space than to have them wait until they leave to have a frank discussion.

Ask for the Close

Too many sales are lost simply because the artist or gallery salesperson didn’t come right out and ask for the sale. Asking buyers to commit can seem a little scary at first. You might feel like you are taking a risk by asking. What if they don’t really like the art? What if they say “no”?

You face a far greater risk if you don’t try to close the sale: someone who loves a piece might not end up buying simply because they weren’t given the opportunity.

Even when a client says “no,” you are in a better position than you would have been had you not asked – now you can find out why they don’t want to buy and help them overcome any obstacles that might be in the way.

The next time you have someone interested in a piece, try asking “Can I wrap that up for you?” or “Would you like to put that on a credit card?” You might be surprised when the customer simply says “yes!”

Obviously these are only a few of the steps involved in making a sale, and I have only briefly touched on them. My goal here is not to give you a comprehensive guide; rather I want you to begin actively thinking about salesmanship. Salesmanship is a process, and salesmanship skills can be learned and developed.

Reposted By:

Adam Brown

Osio-Brown Editions Website

Giclee Printing FAQs

Friday, August 19, 2011

12 Steps to Get Your Artwork Noticed by Art Galleries (Part II)

Last week, we discussed a variety of things NOT to do when approaching art galleries. So, this week, here are our recommendations for getting your work noticed by galleries:

1) Identify your target galleries. Do NOT just send your portfolio to every gallery you see advertised. Look in magazines, look online and identify several galleries that might be possibilities. Each gallery you decide to target should meet the following criteria:

a) Sell the medium(s) that you work in (i.e. Photographers should not approach galleries that sell only paintings)

b) Represent artwork styles that will draw buyers who would also be interested in your style (i.e. Abstract artists should not approach realism galleries)

c) Must be reputable. You may have to ask artist friends and do some digging to determine this.

d) Should promote themselves and have obvious strategies for generating leads. This may be magazine advertising, but could also be having a high-traffic location, a targeted direct mail campaign or even email campaigns. This may be difficult to determine in advance, but you will see advertisements and other artists may know how a given gallery generates leads.

After you've identified your target galleries, you.....

2) Honestly assess the level and quality of your artwork and the artwork carried by your target galleries. Is your goal realistic? Are you targeting a gallery who represents master painters and you've been painting for a total of six months? This is a difficult step, but you definitely need to target galleries who are at the same "level" as you.

Once you're comfortable that you're ready to show in your target galleries....

3) Go through each gallery's roster of artists, looking for artists whom you personally know. If you really are at the same "level" as the artists in your target galleries, chances are you will have at least met some of them.

4) If you don't know anyone represented by any of the galleries, you probably need to do some networking and meet more people. You could also try sending a letter to some of the artists you respect and ask them if they would critique your work. You might be able to take workshops with some of them (that's a great way to meet master artists and get your work noticed). You might know someone who knows them. You'll do better by giving something first, perhaps a collector of your work would like one of the other artist’s works. Call the artist and tell him you have a collector who might be interested in his work and make a artist will remember someone who sends him a possible sale!

5) Ask your artist friend about the target gallery. Once you've identified some artists whom you know and/or have developed relationships with you're ready to continue your quest. Ask your friend what it is like to work with such and such gallery. Do they pay promptly?

If you start hearing positive things then . . . .

6) Ask your artist friend if the gallery would like your work. Just ask. This is someone who knows you and the gallery....they'll give you an honest answer. It will be easier to accept & hear the truth from your friend than it will be to get a rejection letter from the gallery. (You can still approach the gallery even if your friend doesn't think you should, you just won't have the advantage of the referral).

7) Ask your friend if they would tell the gallery about your work. (Only if they were positive in step 6).

If your friend agrees . . .

8) Check the gallery's exhibition calendar. Identify a time when they are not overwhelmed with some huge show. Your friend will probably know what timing is best.

When the time arrives. . .

9) Have the friend call the gallery and casually mention you and your work. This will peak the gallery owner's interest about you. The goal of this call should be for your friend to let the gallery owner know that you'll be sending a portfolio and following up with a phone call.

10) If possible, have your friend send the portfolio. Simply give the portfolio to your friend, ask him to write on a post-it note "this is the artist I told you about" and send it. (Make sure you pay for postage). This way the portfolio will have your friend's name on the outside, and will get opened more promptly....this step is optional because the gallery should be expecting your portfolio at this point, so just send it yourself if it will be an imposition to ask your friend.

11) After the portfolio arrives at the gallery you will probably get a phone call. You've "primed the pump" and the gallery will likely feel obligated to at least give you a call. If you don't get a call after about a week, then you need to call them and make sure they actually received the portfolio, let them know that you are the artist that "so-and-so told you about...."

12) At this point a dialog should open with the gallery. They may still turn down your work, but your discussions will be relaxed, casual and friendly. If they do turn you down, ask them if they know of any other galleries where your work might be a better fit. (We often provided other gallery names because it is difficult to "reject" someone and we did truly want to be helpful. We've had many artists thank us for pointing them to other galleries who accepted their work....and that is gratifying).

Is this too much work? No. Every career is a lot of work and being an artist is no different. If your career is worth it, then the work is worth it.

Reposted By:

Adam Brown

Osio-Brown Editions Website

Giclee Printing FAQs

Friday, August 12, 2011

12 Steps to Get Your Artwork Noticed by Art Galleries (Part I): What NOT To Do.

About Art Galleries

Our gallery advertises quite a bit and has a good reputation for treating artists fairly and for paying promptly, so, naturally we received quite a lot of portfolio submissions. While we have no hard numbers for you, there were times that it could have been as many as 20 per week. That may not sound like much, but trust me, running a gallery is a LOT of work. There are paintings to unpack, shows to hang, paperwork to do, artist biography information to organize (and usually to write for the artist), phone calls to make, frames to order, advertisements to design, employee problems to deal with....and when you're not doing all of those tasks - you're either with customers or on the phone trying to get more customers. So at 20 a week, they pile up pretty fast...that would be over 100 after just one month!

Why Portfolios Get Ignored
So what happens? New artist portfolios are thrown aside into stacks - while they are important, they're not URGENT. And if something is not urgent, then other tasks tend to take priority.

By the way, a lot of commentators will tell you the answer to getting noticed is sending in very professionally prepared portfolios. It's not. Being professional is always a good thing, but, frankly, we didn't care what the portfolio looked like. An envelope full of snapshots was fine (digital images were even better) because the determining factor for acceptance was the artwork itself....not the presentation of the portfolio. The nicely prepared portfolios got ignored just as much as the sloppy ones.

And here's what makes the situation even worse - if you call ahead about your portfolio, you're just interrupting someone with all those other tasks to do - so that's not really a good idea. If you just "walk in" with your paintings.....well you are taking a real risk if you don't have an appointment. Most gallery owners are not just sitting around waiting for you to walk in with your art. Think about it. Let's say you had a deadline to finish several paintings for a show by the end of this week. So you're painting, painting, perhaps dealing with a few other issues, but, for the most part, you have your entire week's agenda already set. Now let's say right when you were finishing the most important've just gotten into the "zone", when into your studio, unannounced, walks your framer. He has a stack of 20 new frame designs and wants to spend the next 3 hours showing them to you, discussing them with you, he even offers to take you to lunch.

You're likely to be a bit miffed - why didn't he call ahead and make an appointment? You're busy! That's exactly what it was like when we saw an unannounced artist coming into the gallery loaded down with artwork to show us. We're certainly not advocating rudeness, there's no call ever to be rude . . . but perhaps you can see why it sometimes happens.....and why you shouldn't just walk in unannounced.

Summarizing the Problem
So, let's sum up:

1. If you simply send in a portfolio, it may get ignored, at least for a long time.

2. If you call ahead, you likely will be seen as a time waster...after all you're not buying art and the gallery has never seen your work.

3. If you just walk in - you're risking interrupting or upsetting the very least, you'll put the person in the wrong frame of mind to look at your work!

4. Email is unlikely to upset anyone, but it's really super easy to ignore and hit "delete."

Hmmm. The situation looks pretty what should you do?

Referrals are King
Looking back, however, there were a few times when a new artist got our full attention right off the bat. In fact, we were even looking forward to seeing the artist's work.

Here's what happened. First, we would receive a call from one of the artists we already worked with. Often, this would be just your standard business type call, updates on new artwork, reviewing sales figures, discussing clients etc. But sometime during that call the artist would say, "You know, I'm not sure why I haven't thought of it before, but there's another artist I know who I really think you should look at. She's extremely talented and I think you would sell her work well."

Now that gets a gallery owners attention. Talented and sells well...what more could we ask for? So, of course, we would ask for more details and usually end up expecting a portfolio in the mail. You can bet when that portfolio arrived that it was opened and reviewed immediately. Not only were we excited about it and expecting it, but we had made a commitment to our existing artist that we would review it and, no doubt word would get back to him if we didn't act upon the portfolio promptly.

We certainly didn't accept every artist who was referred in this way....but we did accept a very high percentage of them....much, much higher than "general" portfolio submissions.

It seems that the answer to "marketing" to galleries is just like marketing to customers: word-of-mouth and referrals are king.

Please check back next week for Part II of our series 12 Steps To Get Your Artwork Noticed by Galleries,” where we will jump right into our recommendations for getting your art work noticed by galleries.

Reposted By:

Adam Brown

Osio-Brown Editions Website

Giclee Printing FAQs

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

5 Free Art Marketing Ideas for Artists

(Brought to you by our friends at Art Business Advice)

Marketing your art doesn’t have to be extremely difficult. For example, a few days ago I found an artist who was literally giving away some of his paintings through is new blog. His explanation for this odd behavior was simple: he was a relatively new artist trying to build awareness for his paintings. Naturally he doesn’t give away all of his artwork. Interspersed among the free paintings are others (usually larger ones) which cost something. But that “marketing hook” of giving away a free painting to anyone willing to pay shipping and handling stuck out in my mind—and that’s what good marketing is all about.

So today, I thought I’d talk about some ways that you can stand out from the crowd. I’m not talking about changing your art or changing yourself, I’m just talking about thinking a bit more like a marketing agent or an advertiser so that YOUR art gets noticed and—more importantly—so that YOU get remembered.

Here are some of the ideas I came up (most will work both offline or online).

1) Educate the Art Buyer

The first art marketing idea I came up with is based on my own experiences online. If you can offer information or knowledge that other people want, they’ll keep coming back to your website. Obviously, the people you want to attract are art buyers—so the question is, what do art buyers need to know?

Perhaps they need information on taking care of their artwork, such as, how to safely clean their paintings, for example. Better yet, write out a tutorial on how to frame art (or the best places to get artwork framed). You could also offer advice on collecting art, or on matching art to a specific décor style. Even something as simple as making a list of the top 100 places to buy art online would work.

Once they’re visiting your site, they just might buy something of yours—and yes, for this idea it does help to have an art blog of your own.

2) Make the Art Buying Experience Fun & Unique

The second art marketing idea I had was to take the whole idea of “free art” and expand on it. Free art is a novelty in and of itself, but what if you want a little more interaction with your potential art buyers? How do you get them to email you their contact information so you can pursue the sale at a later date? Marsha Robinett gave some excellent advice in this article on building a mailing list (I’d recommend reading that article first), but there’s a lot more you can do as well.

For example, why not turn it into a game? Try advertising your art as “Free to a good home.” When people ask about it, which they will, tell them that the rules of the game are simple—they just need to prove themselves by answering one art-related question. Or come up with another way to interact. . . hold a weekly drawing and give away one of your paintings to the person whose name you pull out of a hat. If you announce the winner every week to your email subscribers, people will sign up for your free mailing list just to see if they’ve won. The art you give away doesn’t have to be large or expensive, and just being unique in how you present yourself will bring about a lot more opportunities to sell your art.

3) Either Narrow Your Focus or Broaden Your Horizons

Another popular way to stand out as an artist is to either “limit” your art or “expand” your art. “Limiting” your art would be to focus in on a very specific niche subject or style. It’s not a new idea, but the goal is to become known as the artist for your niche.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I’ve come across many artists who have started projects with no limits. . . which they hope will capture the public’s imagination and interest.

4) Offer A Guarantee

Something that ALL artists should do is offer a guarantee. Art isn’t a hard sell (like dodgy herbal supplements, for example) so your guarantee doesn’t have to claim something outrageous to get people to buy. Just make sure they know that if they change their mind about their purchase they can return the artwork for a full refund (less the cost of shipping and handling). That guarantee will be enough to convince people who are on the fence about buying, and yet the cost of shipping and handling is usually enough to stop frivolous returns.

5) Give Back Through Your Art

You can also do good while selling your art by donating ten, twenty or even fifty percent of your profits to a charity you feel strongly about. Or just announce a charity drive once or twice per year. Either way it gives people the opportunity to become involved in a good cause, and it’s also good PR for you. If it feels strange to be making money while donating to charity, then give 100% of the profit during your charity drives—and of course, make sure all the money you’ve promised actually gets to the organization you’ve chosen!!!

These are just a few ideas for how you can stand out from the crowd—I’m sure there are many more, but I’ll leave those up to you to find. Why not start out by simply jotting down ideas as they come to you, and then make a goal to put something in motion by the end of the week? Think about it—how can you differentiate yourself from other artists?

Reposted By:

Adam Brown

Osio-Brown Editions Website

Giclee Printing FAQs