Monday, June 1, 2015

235: The print market dilemma

Thumbnails from
showing four of my woodcuts and five paintings.
In the 90s a type of mechanical print became fashionable called giclee prints. They were mechanical reproductions printed by computer technology. Giclee prints were not hand-made like traditional fine art prints and were in no way limited–once you had a digital file you could print an unlimited amount of indistinguishable copies.

Unlike giclees each hand-printed woodcut has distinctly beautiful nuances. The giclee option confused fine art print collectors and the ability to sell fine art prints became increasingly difficult. Up to the late 90s most large cities had fine art print galleries that sold only hand-made prints. Today such galleries are extremely rare.

On the positive side hand-made prints are selling for prices never seen before. And highly collectible, multi-color woodcuts by artists such as Gustave Baumann are selling for record prices.

From time to time I've been approached by reproduction companies offering to sell my work. So far I've only agreed to one company, TurningArt, on one condition–that the reproductions have significant differences from the original woodcuts. This means that all my TurningArt offerings have been cropped in a way that differentiates them from the originals. Plus the originals have paper and ink texture that is impossible to reproduce in a mechanical reproduction further ensuring that each woodcut is a unique and inimitable piece of art.

Unlike the TurningArt reproductions I sign and number each woodcut and keep editions low (usually under 40). Every print is hand-deckled and hand-embossed on acid free paper following traditional techniques. With rare exceptions I cancel each block–preventing future editions.

I feel these efforts are necessary to preserve the line between mechanical reproductions–the only way some people can afford art–and the more rarified market of fine art prints, a market that is probably one of the smallest art markets in America.

Let me know about your experiences with the print market.

Brad Teare–June 2015


  1. Brad,

    Part of the confusion for collectors is the intentionally misleading name "giclee print" for inkjet print. It is just as misleading as using "plein air" rather than "outdoor" or "open air". The art world only has itself to blame for its failures and difficulties. When you aim to confuse, you lose.

    I have also had some artists try to tell me that giclees are not like regular inkjet prints. That is nonsense. When inkjet technology first appeared, high resolution was expensive, but as with all technology, time has brought the ost down while the quality has improved greatly. Today, anyone with a computer and an inkjet printer can make their own high quality "giclees".

    By the way, as an art lover, these French terms to disguise art methods annoyed me so much I have taken to perusing old art journals in antique stores when I can find them and "plein air" is a relatively new term. Everyone used to just call it painting outdoors.

    I liken the damage this obfusation is doing to the art world to the way opera damaged itself - by only having opera in foreign languages most people don't understand. The end result is most cities cannot support an opera house because your typical person has no appreciation for music they cannot understand. Now juxtapose that against the popularity of musicals, which are basically American opera. People enjoy musicals, opera - not so much.

    The visual art world is doing the same thing opera did to itself - an artistic cutting off your nose to spite your face, and it really is a shame.

    Your art is very good, and your prints are beautiful. They remind me of Don Gorvett's work. He uses a reduction woodcut method with only one plate. I am fortunate to own one of his works.

    Kindest regards,

    Paul Foote

    1. I agree. I like the term field painting too. It’s simpler. I think the fine art print market was hurt by huge lithograph editions too. Such practices confused buyers to the point that they didn’t care anymore.

      I will check out that link. Reduction printing has always intrigued me. I need to give it a try. Thanks for the kind words!


Thanks for your comments!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...