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Art Prints and Limited Editions

August 18, 2015

Back in April I wrote about “Photography or Art” where I explored when photography became art. I find myself now looking at upcoming fairs like The Accessible Art Fair in Brussels and The Affordable Art Fair which now operates in 11 countries. Due to the high quality ChromaLuxe output of our local Brussels lab, Labo JJ Micheli, we have seen increasing use of ChromaLuxe at the Brussels exhibitions in preference to Diasec prints.

These two fairs do exactly what they say and concentrate on art that is affordable and accessible, typically with maximum prices limited to approx. €5000 – €6000 but with many works at very ‘democratic’ prices of under €100. Artists and photographers are encouraged and invited to exhibit and sell direct to the market.

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Photographs and Photo-Art are often exhibited as prints on fine art paper or using high-end acrylic Diasec prints. ChromaLuxe offers a very valid alternative with its punchy colours and almost 3 dimensional look. Even with the gloss version, images reflect better than under acrylic or behind glass.

A lot of the artworks presented are offered as limited edition prints as these fit well in the price range. But what is a limited edition? There has been a lot of discussion around this and there is no legal definition – it is basically left to the ethics and responsibility of the individual artist. In the days when prints were often made by screen printing or from woodcuts, lithographic stones etc, the edition would be limited by the process being used (which would often wear out) and by destruction of the original plates/medium. With digital images, the rules have changed as there is generally no limit to the print quantity or the size.

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A limited edition should come from an original artist’s work and not from a reproduction of let’s say a famous Master’s work – for example Manet’s paintings reproduced as posters. An edition should normally be between 10 and 150 images plus perhaps a couple of AP (Artist Proofs) which are made to control the consistency and quality of the other prints. Prints should be signed and numbered showing the print number and the total quantity of the edition – 45/120 for example. Each print should also have a unique Certificate of Authenticity explaining the medium, the number of prints in the edition, link to the specific print and artist’s signature. With ChromaLuxe prints, artist’s signatures and print numbers can be added digitally on the face of the image, printed on the rear or engraved – the important part is to link the print to the CoA.

What about a second limited edition of the same image but at a different size and on a different media – perhaps paper prints of 40x50cm and canvas prints of 1mx1m? This is a difficult one and practised by many artists/photographers. It becomes a question of their integrity and position in the market and their honesty with the clients as it does have an effect on the value of their work. What I did see recently which is extremely dubious was a second edition of the same image on the same material at the same size – the only difference was the addition of one person into the image!

Finally – hand embellishment. This is something I personally like. A good example would be a limited edition of 10 prints where the artist has added something to each image by hand. This might, for example, be the addition of some gold or pearlescent paint in part of the image that cannot be reproduced digitally. The edition is limited but each image is also unique. Nice idea.

Featured imageCharles Henniker-Heaton has over 30 years experience in the imaging industry, first at Durst and then at Fujifilm as a senior manager involved in retail photo, chemicals and since 2006 as European Marketing Manager for large format printing. He joined ChromaLuxe EMEA in 2014 in charge of European Business Development for large format.

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