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Making and Selling Giclee Prints - Will It Work For You?

by Lori Woodward on 10/10/2017 9:38:45 AM

This article is by Lori Woodward, regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. She is a member of the the Putney Painters, an internationally known group of a dozen artists who paint under the mentorship of Richard Schmid. Lori authored and illustrated step-by-step articles for Watercolor Magazine from 2007 to 2012. She has taught art marketing seminars at Scottsdale Artist School and at the 2012 Oil Painters of America national convention and show.




Before I move on to talk about the specifics of having prints made, pricing and details about selling them, it's important that you, the artist, determine whether or not investing in prints is a good idea. In today's blog, I'll post some questions for you to ponder so you can make informed decisions when it comes to having prints made.


Does Your Work Have a Strong Following?


When I participated in a string of outdoor summer shows in New England, there were a few artists who made the majority of their income through selling prints. This fact piqued my curiosity, so I asked those artists how they knew they were ready to sell prints. Most, if not all, said that an artist is ready to sell prints when they can't keep up with sales of their originals. In other words, when the artist can't produce enough original work to keep up with the demand, that's the time to consider selling prints.


Today, the reasons for having editions of prints are different. Most artists who have giclees made, sell them because the price of their original work has risen enough over the years that many who love their work can't afford it. Those same folks would buy a print - if just to have it in their home.



Some Questions To Ponder


Do You Sell Your Originals For Prices That Are Higher Than Most Can Afford?


If you've been selling through galleries successfully and other venues for a number of years, and thereby, the price range for your originals is in the thousands of dollars' range, why not offer giclee prints for sale so that a larger audience who already loves your work (but cannot afford it), can enjoy it in their homes and businesses?


My work is not all that expensive, but recently, I've decided to hang onto my originals and sell giclee prints from my website. Because I'm no longer working with galleries, I don't have to provide originals to the market. So this is one case where the price of originals does not far exceed the price of the prints... because I'm not planning on selling the original.


Will Your Work Appeal To a Wider Audience?


If you look at artists who make a great deal of income from reproductions, you'll most likely see that their work appeals to a wide audience. Their print buyers may or may not buy the same type of work that collectors of originals do. What I'm seeing in my research is that the majority of folks who buy giclee prints like art that is up-lifting in some way. Many times, the artwork serves as a conversation piece when their guests visit, and yes, often times the print is purchased for it's decorative qualities, but this is a bonus when artists sell prints to interior designer firms.


Are You OK with Testing Your Print Market?


When I decided to run two images of giclee prints, one completely sold out while the other hardly sold at all. The print that did not sell... a floral still life in a vertical format. By the way, I had no trouble selling the original. The other print, a watercolor painting of a New England colonial house in dappled sunlight, was a real hit, and I sold the entire edition. My dentist bought the original. 


Every print run is often an experiment in marketing. It's difficult to understand why one print sells well while another does not. There are no guarantees, so be prepared to accept the fact that you may not sell every print successfully. Carefully consider exactly who will buy your print and why they would want it before having the prints made. 


Not Selling Your Originals? Avoid Moving To Prints


If you're not selling your original work, I wouldn't advise moving to selling giclees. Many times artists think, "Well, since I can't seem to sell my originals, perhaps I'll sell more if I offer prints". Sorry to say, it hardly ever works that way. The time to consider selling prints is when your work has been vetted by galleries and/or previous sales of originals.


In order to be successful at selling giclees, you must know who your potential buyers are and make a solid plan of how to reach and sell to them. If your work is not regionally or nationally known, it will likely be a difficult road to immediately procure a buying audience. Yes, it can be done, but it'll take time, and often some bit of advertising with social media will be needed to to build that audience.


If your originals aren't selling well, or have never sold well, I'd advise working on first growing an audience for your original work. Reproductions will not create a new market for original art that is not selling well in the present or the past. Growing your audience is worth an entire blog series in itself.


The Real Reason To Sell Giclees


The reason to sell giclees is to offer your work to a larger audience at a lower price than your originals. A second incentive is because it provides some semi-passive income to the artist.


Sold Prints Lead To Sales of Originals


Prints can also be marketed to businesses: Hotels, restaurant chains, medical facilities, and corporations. Many times, after a collector sees a print in a business, that person seeks out the artist to buy an original. It's unlikely this person would have ever seen this artist's work if it had not been displayed at their workplace. Recently, Peter Batchelder had procured a series of commissioned works after having his giclee prints installed in a Connecticut hospital.


In the next post, I'll show how a few artists price their giclees. Print prices often depend on how much the artist's original work sells for. It's not a one-fits-all formula. Of course, getting the prints made can be expensive, so at the very least, the artist will want to calculate costs in order to make a decent profit.


But for now, if you'd like to see one artist who sells well in both formats, you can visit:

Richard Hall's Website - Click HERE

Peter Batchelder - Click HERE


Don't hesitate to post questions in the comments. I'll answer them if I indeed know that answer or perhaps help you do a little research on your own.




Editor's Note:

If you want to start marketing your art, a professional and secure website can be your most valuable tool. And FASO is the easiest way to build and maintain a gorgeous website, we also include amazing marketing tools that automate many common marketing tasks for you. To sign up for a free, no obligation 30 day trial, click here.


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Related Posts:

Making and Selling Giclee Prints - Part 1

Passive Income Streams - Giclee Prints

Are You An Artrepreneur?

Multiple Streams of Income For Artists

Topics: advice for artists | Art Business | FineArtViews | giclee prints | Lori Woodward | printmaking | sell art | selling art online 

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lori Woodward
Hi artist friends. I've got to be away from my computer for most of today, but I'll check back later to read comments. Feel free to ask questions. Can't say I'll have all the answers, but I'd love to help where I can.

Anne Palmer
This was really timely for me as I have been wondering if my giclee offerings were done for the right reasons. My thinking is apparently right in line with your points with one exception. I almost always have sales when I have pieces in shows, However I have had a very hard time actually getting into galleries so my original sales are low comparatively. So selling prints has been a way to generate a bit of an income in between shows. I continue to work on gallery access though. I looked at the two websites you provided. Very helpful. I look forward to your next post.

Walter Paul Bebirian
I work strictly with digital images and so anything that is printed on any media is an original -

John Bosquet-Morra
Dear Lori: I am surprised and sad that you did not mention any of the ethical/moral problems with selling a "print," when there are innumerable REAL oil paintings, drawings, and (real) prints available at low cost to art buyers on a budget. When someone cannot afford one of my sketches, I refer them to other artists who they can afford, or I send them to local art schools, where they can get truly incredible bargains.

Ink-jet prints from computer printers are not art, and they rob real artists. Additionally, the buyers of these pseudo-prints are spending money on something that is intrinsically worthless. I have seen framed Gicles for a thousand dollars , and this makes my heart sink, -- imagine what they could have bought from you, or any other real painter!
My grandparents were working class Italian-Irish immigrants, and they had real oil paintings in their home. They understood that there was such a thing as a real painting. By selling fake art, artists are de-educating buyers that once understood this. We should be doing everything to rebuild that culture, as opposed to further wrecking it.

Robert Bates
In your blog you stated "I'd advise working on first growing an audience for your original work. Reproductions will not create a new market for original art that is not selling well in the present or the past. Growing your audience is worth an entire blog series in itself."
How in the world do I grow my audience? Been trying to sell for many years and this year trying the internet with no luck. Also how to get an audience for a newsletter? Many questions, no answers, need help. Have sold cards to friends and local people around home.

I would like to know more about Giclee printers.
which brand is good? and which model?

Kay Hale
Hi Lori, this was really timely for me. A few thoughts. One if someone is buying a print because they cannot afford an original then I am all for it. Especially since the artist is getting a bit of income from their original piece sold or not. I do not think anyone is under the illusion that a print is worth much as an investment...but if it gives them joy and an incentive to save for an original...why send them away to someone else? It is as if the artist puts the person wanting a print in an "us or them" situation. We cannot appear to be elitist if we want to bring many buyers into the fold! ( this in response to one of the comments)
second...there are websites that can sell prints of work the artist uploads. Redbubble is one I think of. I have not sold much there..but there is an opportunity to have prints done on demand for buyers and the artist gets a percentage of the sale...whatever percent they choose ahead of time and that also influences the price of the print for a buyer. It is easy and has helped me see what a wider audience likes.
Thanks again for the thoughts. I was considering giclee prints but finding it hard to justify the cost. And now I will choose to do so with a popular piece.

lori Woodward
I'm having a little trouble adding comments to my blog today. Let me solve the issue, and I'll get back to you.

lori Woodward
Yes, I'll be writing about pricing prints, how to find a printer, what to expect to pay for prints (in general terms) and show examples of mid-priced artists who sell both prints and originals.

lori Woodward
My reason for writing for Fine Art Views is because I enjoy researching how artists actually make a living with sales of their art. I often get this information by interviewing artists who pay the bills with their art sales.

I love to share what I find for free and answer questions where I happen to know that answer. That said, I'm not an art marketing coach - just a fellow artist who struggles to find buyers in today's market - just like many of you. The research helps me to apply what others are doing to my own career path.

lori Woodward
I'm off to the studio this afternoon.. No internet access there. By the end of this series (probably 2 more blogs), I hope to have given you all enough information to lead you to a decision about whether having giclee prints made for you - especially if you're painters - is a good choice. Of course, if you're a digital artist, then it's understood that the prints are the result of your creative work.


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