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Passive Income Streams - Giclee Prints

by Lori Woodward on 7/17/2013 7:36:44 AM

Today's post is by Lori Woodward, regular contributing writer for FineArtViews.  Lori is a member of the Putney Painters, an internationally known group of a dozen artists who paint under the direction of Richard Schmid. She has held workshops at Scottsdale Artist School, and has been represented by galleries throughout New England. Lori spoke on art marketing for the Oil Painters of America National Show and convention in 2012. As a writer, she has authored more than 60 articles for American Artist Publications, and she is a co-author of "Watercolor, Step by Step", a Walter Foster Publication.


Before I write about giclee prints and how selling them can bring in some semi-passive income for artists, I'd like to share a little about the history of giclee reproductions (some of this is my history).


Before the late 1990s, artists and print companies used offset printing for their limited edition reproductions. Companies such as Greenwich Workshop sold limited editions by well known artists using the offset process. These companies used the highest standards for print longevity; however, even with the best inks, some colors were fugitive (meaning they faded with time and with exposure to light). I've seen the results of these inks in posters at doctors offices, restaurants and banks - the only colors that remain are shades of blue and gray.


Around 1996, I began working with a gallery in Kennebunkport, Maine. The gallery owners maintained two galleries: one for originals and a second building that sold reproductions. I noticed that their reproductions (prints) were on high quality watercolor paper and looked just like originals (This was before the technology for printing on canvas had emerged). Turns out that a guy named Mike Brown was the printer – he owned Hunter Editions, a giclee printing company, also located in Kennebunkport.


Mr. Brown is the person who is largely responsible for creating the entire giclee market that we have today.... he developed the long-lived inks for the Iris Printer, the same inks we use today for giclees. Long story shorter, Mike eventually sold Hunter Editions and moved on after he changed the world for art reproductions. Hunter Editions continued to thrive, and became the place for well-known print companies, such as Greenwich Workshop, to get their limited editions processed.


At the time, I had two paintings made into giclee prints with Mike Brown. He was a pleasure to work with. He was the president of the International Digital Printers Society and developed inks to last for at least 75 years without noticeable fading.


OK, so let me get back to my story... Before getting my prints made, I showed my original paintings to a local frame shop owner. She was a print dealer, who bought limited editions from major print houses: Greenwich Workshop, Hadley House, etc. She bought half the print edition of my "house" painting. I had 40 made, so she bought 20 at half my retail price. Retail was $150, for a 16x20 giclee on Somerset Velvet Watercolor paper, so I sold her 20 at $75 each. I paid the printer $60 for each print, meaning that I made $15, time 20 prints. No it was not a lot of money, but I'm grateful that she bought them outright. She sold everything she bought from me at $150 unframed, and framed at about $450. I sold the remaining prints at outdoor shows and from my studio. My dentist bought the original painting.


Here's the icing on the cake! The frame shop owner asked me to hang half a dozen of my originals in her shop, and I ended up selling all of those and made quite a bit of income from that venture.


Let's fast forward to today:


The technology for giclees has improved, and now artists can have their editions printed on canvas, as well as paper. Epsom, and other printer manufacturers, have developed models: $300 to many thousands of dollars. As far as I can tell, no matter the price of the printer, the individual inks last for 75 years (thanks to Mike Brown).


My friend and artist colleague, Kyle Stuckey is currently having prints made by Hunter Editions. Because his gallery paintings are quite expensive, he will be able to get a good price for his giclees. On the opposite end of the scale, Pam Ellis, a Maine artist who shows in Art-in-the-Park venues, prints her own small giclees using a responsibly priced Epsom printer. Her originals are miniature watercolors, and her prints are small, too – looking almost identical to the originals. Of course, a good amount of her income is generated by her prints.


Artists have many choices today when it comes to making reproductions. All those choices are good. Small home-style Epsom printers can print up to 11x17. There are numerous small print businesses around the country. Although I've worked with Hunter Editions in the past, I'm currently working with a printer who resides in the very same building where I share a studio. Not only am I contributing to the local economy, but all I have to do is trek up one flight to work with this guy. I've seen his work first hand, it's excellent and cost effective for me.


When I first made giclees, I realized that I wasn't really ready for them. First of all, I had not built a following for my originals yet – having done only a handful of outdoor shows locally, and second, the price of my originals was too low and similar to the price of my giclees.


The artist who would benefit from having reproductions on hand to sell, has built a following of collectors, either on her or his own or through gallery sales. If you get to the point where you would like some extra income in a passive way (meaning that you don't have to paint everything you sell), giclee prints might be a good choice. In addition to having a strong buying audience for your originals, it helps if the price of those originals is out of reach for many who love your work. Those are the folks who will buy your reproductions. The only catch is that selling reproductions from your home or studio is semi-passive because it requires you to ship the prints to buyers. However, only you can produce your originals, but you can pay someone else to ship prints.


If some of you who are reading this are selling prints successfully, please feel free to share how you've built an audience for your reproductions. Another resource who is an expert in this field is Barney Davey. Check out his blog at Also feel free to ask questions on this blog. I love to get a conversation going where we can help the greater community of artists.

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Related Posts:

Passive Income Streams for Artists

Out of the Box Marketing: "Original Iterations" Instead of Prints

Exploring Print on Demand Hype

Topics: advice for artists | Art Business | art marketing | exposure tips | FineArtViews | Lori Woodward | printmaking | sell art | selling art online | selling fine art online 

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Michael Cardosa
Hi Lori,

Both your background in prints and the information was very interesting and informative. Don't think I'm ready for prints yet myself but will tuck this away for the day I do think is the right time.

thanks again,


Robert P. Britton Jr
Thanks for the information on this topic, Lori.

Small office/home office printers have amazing capabilities and qualities. Like you say, today's Epson printers are just astounding when you look at how far the technology has evolved. So many quality papers to choose from including canvas. And getting color calibration is not the secret of the pros any more.

Nice article!

David Randall
I too was an early adopter of the digital print. I agree Barney Davey has much insight and insider knowledge. I have been in the business for over 45 years primarily on the retail side. I bought his book out of curiosity to see what he had to say and WOW! It's a total gold mine of great information. My copy of, "How to Profit from the Art Print Market" is filled with highlights. At the moment I think it's the best information out there that I've seen. Every artist can use it. It's not just another how to book.

Lori Woodward
Robert, Yes! It's exciting to see all the ways artists can easily engage in printing, self-publishing, and without great expense. All we need is more time ;-) butthe technology is all in place and widely available.

I am guessing that one of the fastest growing job opportunities is that of virtual assistant... Someone artists can hire to do admin with a technical edge. These assistants will not be artists themselves. We artists already have a full time career.

What is recommended about packaging and presentation of Giclee prints? Shrink wrap or clear bags? Do you limit editions? If so, how do you keep track?

Walter Paul Bebirian
Since I am working only digitally now with both photographs as well as abstract work which means only with pure energy I am only providing customers with digital options which means 7 different paper types or canvas and different sizes for each of the images in my art collection -

things are definitely evolving each and every day in this field as with many things in life in general -

Lori Woodward
Aline, I am having the same questions you are because in the past I sold my prints through outdoor shows and galleries. Jack white uses shipping tubes from the USPS.

Most artists don't frame the reproductions they sell. It keeps local framers in business. I'm planning on making only canvas prints in common frame sizes... 8x10, 11x14 etc. I'm thinking that a lot of artists may buy my prints and have access to their own frame dealers. Non artists will need to go to a frame shop. I'm not interested in being part of the framing business. It's all I can do just to paint.

Of course my originals will be framed, and I'm planning on selling those through galleries.

Form those who teach and do demos, it might make sense to offer reproductions of the finished demo available. I plan on covering combining passive income stream efforts like this in order to leave more time for painting originals and having weekends off.

Lori Woodward
Oh, limiting editions comes down to personal choice. Print companies originally limited editions because they thought those prints would be valuable on the secondary market. I think that experiment failed - some folks bought a number of prints of an edition, thinking it was an investment - but that never materialized.

Personally, I ask myself this question: Why would I want to limit my income on a popular image? Again, Barney Davey understands the pulse of this market - and he's an expert at advising artists who sell their own prints.

The higher the price you get for originals, the higher price you can charge for your prints. I'm planning on offering my prints for double my cost plus shipping to start. I want to get those prints moving. The great thing about the giclee process is that an artist doesn't have to order many to get started, and when the first bunch sell, more can be printed then. The images are stored in the printer's computer system. They can also be offered in a variety of sizes, depending on the format ratio.. sticking to that ratio.

As you can tell, I'm not an expert in this area. I, like you, am exploring my options. My main reason for writing this series is to share ideas about generating passive income, so that we have a backup system for when we can't spend time at the easel, make income while we sleep, and also be able to leave a business to our heirs (if they want it).

As I said, it's not for everybody - depends on how many originals you're currently selling and at what price. If you're selling well at commercial galleries for prices above $1000 - having reproductions available could be a good choice. Even if you're selling on your own for prices above $500, inexpensive prints under $100 might do well.

Monika Dery
Thanks for the great article. I have access to an excellent Epson printer and am registered for a workshop to learn how too use it properly (although I already do 8 x 11 prints on my HP with Vivera inks). I'm eager too reproduce (in very small quaitities) my favourite batik on rice paper painting onto 11 x 14 and 18 high quality photo paper for this purpose, and I will frame them myself (been doing that for years) to make a nice tidy profit on the sale of the framed print. Many people are lazy and take the print home and wait for a year or two to get it framed. I can make it a one-stop shop. I was very much set against giclees and prints being touted as fine art or originals with a few brush strokes, but there is a huge market out there for prints. I'm a convert!

Lori Woodward
Monika, good point about the framing. I'm guilty of not framing prints I've bought. A one-stop Shop makes a lot of sense. I'm just not very good at getting the framing done myself, so I'll have to think of a way to outsource that or make it easy for myself.

Because I buy my frames through a friend who sells at reduced prices - she has an account with Omega Frame and Moulding, I could frame the prints easily and these come in their own boxes. Something I'll need to think about, but I must think about it carefully because for me... I need passive income. I already wear too many hats and am not happy when I'm overwhelmed by all I've taken on.

Lori Woodward
Hmmm.. I could offer the frame as an option.. doubling my framing cost so I get some income for my time. Then it's up to the buyer if they want the frame or not.

It sounds like your frame will be integral to your artwork Monika.

Chris Meyer
Thank you for what I am sure will be a very useful article for many.

There's one point I think should be made very clear in the article when advocating that artists print their own reproductions: One must be VERY careful to get a "pigment" based printer rather than a "dye" based printer. Dye-based inks still fade; pigment-based inks have the longevity you speak of. It's not enough to get just an Epson (or any other brand of) printer; many of theirs are dye-based - especially at the smaller sizes and costs.

Trent Gudmundsen
I've only done a few prints over the years, but I thought it might be helpful to point out that it doesn't necessarily require a professional photo of your art in order to make prints (of course, it DOES require a really GOOD photo, but most people can do it themselves). I bought a nice camera and educated myself a little about how to photograph art, and now I'm in the position to make prints of ANY of my paintings that I've ever photographed (which is pretty much all of them). Based on your article, Lori, I think I have a lot of untapped potential there. Thanks for the push. :)

P.S. I think Scott Burdick's website still has great information about how to photograph your artwork...but I'd say the easiest way to do it right is to simply photograph outdoors under an overcast (bright white) sky...and be sure to angle your painting perpendicular to the sky in order to eliminate most of the glare.

Monika Dery
Lori, I agree with your point about wearing too many hats, but I solved that by framing only in certain sizes anymore...also with boxes for easy delivery. I am a framing wholesaler myself so I get them at great prices (maybe not much less than you pay your framer friend). I carry basically (other than old inventory) only gallery style metal frames that only need an opening cut in the mat - I have a mat cutter) in 2 sizes at the moment and can supply a business with prints or originals in those sizes within minutes.) It has always bugged me that when an artist supplies a gallery with new framed work, the gallery gets the same commision on the frame as on the painting, which isn't fair, unless the cost of the frame price was negilgible. That's why I got into framing (a very small scale just for friends and me). Now I can sell wall-ready artwork at a much lower cost to my customers...and the time-commitment is minimal. The choices are limited but most customers don't care as long as they can take their print home and put it immediately on the wall.

Monika Dery
I think it is important to research the quality of the inks used by your printer with the company online. Very interesting point, Chris! For some reason I thought that all Epson inks were archival. I'll have to take another look at the pigment versus dye inks in computers. I believe the Epson inks we use must be pigment based as they're purported as archival, but I will check. Thanks.

I agree that passive sunlight is excellent for photographing artwork on a white background with white all around. I've received fabulous results with this method, although I have full-spectrum lighting in my studio and can photograph at any time of the day and get great results. You can buy full-spectrum fluorescent bulbs (sunlight) which are good for your health as well as for photographing, but they are very expensive.

Lori Woodward
Chris, I think artists should do research on the inks for the printer they're considering buying. That probably goes for paying someone else who has a larger format printer. Thanks for adding to that. I don't know enough about types of inks myself, but I'm sure the info is out there for those who want or need to do the research. Again, Barney might have the answer.

Trent, Richard Schmid has said that Scott Burdick's photo tutorial is excellent, and Richard has taken his own photos for most of his career. That said, I've taken photos for many of the articles I wrote for Workshop and Watercolor Magazines, with a digital SLR (single reflex camera). I'm sure I've even used a non SLR for some of those photos.

It's not as complicated as some advisors make it. I just use a tripod and set the painting against my toaster oven in the kitchen - set the camera's lighting for florescent light (which is in my kitchen)... when what I see on the screen matches the color of my cabinets, I'm good to go.

I don't take raw, but do take the highest resolution I can in Jpeg mode. Then I turn the file into a tiff while I make changes in Photoshop Elements and then change it back into a jpeg before I send it to the magazine or printer. I have found that any file at about 4MB or larger is good for a full page magazine image. Of course, for a reproduction, the file should be much larger, but that's easy now with high res cameras. Hunter Editions sometimes has the artist ship their painting to the them and they scan it... I think they have a $50K scanner... or they used to when I worked with them. The price has probably come down on those too.

The editors at American Artist asked me to take photos for my articles because they thought they were excellent, and I was less expensive than a professional photographer. When I have used a pro, I realized that I liked having the control of my images.. where I can optimize them in a photo editing program.

Thanks for sharing that info Trent.

Lori Woodward
That said, I think it's helpful for artists to learn to use Photoshop Elements (an inexpensive version of Photoshop). Some artists and photographers prefer Lightroom. Some use both of those programs.

The thing I use a photo editing program for: adding light to the shadows, so they don't look like black holes, reducing the brights so I can see the color and detail in them, and adjusting the color so that the image looks like the original painting. Even so, color varies by monitor and the printing process. I don't care if the resulting print is exactly like the original as long as it looks great.

Durwood Coffey
Here's my issue. I have both, litho and Giclee's.
I'm on the fence about this. If a litho gets destroyed, I can pull out another print and replace with little cost, if a Giclee gets destroyed, I have to put out $60 to replace the print. I don't see to much difference in price. I have to pay up front for litho. I do like Giclees. When do we "not" take responsibilitie for the print after we deliver? Any thoughts, but please, don't talk about the money (to me, it's 6 of one or a half dozen of the other, pay now or pay later) or the space (yes the prints do take up space) at the house. Hope this make sense.

Lori Woodward
Monika, Yep... hear ya!

Years ago, I started doubling my supply and framing cost and adding it to the retail price for the gallery so that I always get that back when the gallery takes a commission.

If the gallery is a frame shop, I sell the prints at a 50 percent discount of retail outright. I never let them frame an original or print that I own because if it doesn't sell, they often will want me to buy the frame before I take the work back.

Sounds like you've got a lot going for you Monika. Thanks for sharing with us here.

Monika Dery
Nice to chat and compare notes, Lori.. That framing issue happened to me where a gallery said they would frame at no cost to me and when the paintings didn't sell, their "low, low" price they wanted before giving me the paintings back was totally unexpected...and the paintings have still not sold in my studio in over 2 years. I don't like the frames at all! I lost all my profit on the paintings I did sell there before they closed down. Go figure.

Lori Woodward
Durwood, nothing wrong with lithos. Richard Schmid still has all his reproductions done as lithos because he doesn't want his reproductions to look much like an original painting.

So if Lithos work for you - go for it! Like I said, we've got a lot of options these days to choose from.. and one of them is choosing to not make any reproductions at all.

I haven't had any prints made sinceee 1999. I'm now doing some research because it costs a lot less to make them then they used to. Even professional print shops - it costs less than it did in the 1990s.

The printer in my building has several large format printers and can do large scale on canvas. He's charging 15 cents per square inch on canvas. He doesn't have to ship them to me, and I live in tax free NH!

Lori Woodward
Monika, you're not alone. An artist I know in New England had the exact same thing happen to her. She lost a lot of money. The whole reason for consignment is so that no one is out money if the painting doesn't sell.

Lori Woodward
Durwood, sorry, I did end up talking price.

But I do want to reiterate that lithos are perfectly acceptable, and I imagine that the inks used for those are superior to those that were used 20 years ago.

You've got a good point about just pulling another print out. We each have different goals and reasons for those goals - there is no one recipe for selling originals or reproductions..

Love the conversation and info you are all sharing here. I learn from your experiences. We are in this together. I'm not an art marketing expert - just an artist who likes to write and share info. I've got to go offline for a few hours, but I'll check back later to catch up.

Fiona Purdy
Lori - I have to disagree with you about having to have built a following of collectors before you offer giclees. I've found that offering giclees allows people who are seeing my work for the first time, but perhaps cannot afford my original, an opportunity to have my artwork hang in their home for them to enjoy. I have had great success in selling giclees to people that are seeing my work for the first time.
I for one am glad that artists offer giclees and prints as I have purchased both paper and canvas prints of several artists paintings whose originals I would never be able to afford. How cool is it that I am able to enjoy their work in my home?
I also only order my giclees from my printer (canvas and paper) when someone wants to purchase one. This way I don't have the the expense of holding inventory. It's pretty hard to figure out which painting people will want a giclee of.
I also offer them framed - or unframed.
Interesting topic Lori!

I'm very interested in making Giclee's.

75 years of lasting ink? There hasn't been a study on it--perhaps it's longer.

I hear you can rent Epson printers--then you can deduct it from your taxes, plus get up-dated models thru the years.

Lori Woodward
Fiona, that's interesting and a very good point about offering giclees right away. I think I stand corrected! I've seen some artists do very well at outdoor shows by selling prints, and not even bringing their originals to the show - if someone wants the original, he or she can inquire about that.

Similarly, some of the artists I've interviewed recently who post their work on Fine Art America have sold originals from there. I would never have expected that to happen on such a huge site of work, but I can't argue with results.

Maureen, Mike Brown did the initial studies in the late 1990s and many other studies have been done with equipment. Mike Brown had an outdoor kiosk in the sunlight with his prints behind the glass. He kept the prints there all summer long as an additional test, and I saw no fading.

One of my prints hangs at a BandB in Tucson AZ right next to a window on the east side of the house. It has not faded that anyone can tell. This print was made by Hunter Editions in 1997. That's proof enough for me.

Haven[t heard about renting printers. Anyone out there done that?

Lori Woodward
Fiona, I too have prints made by some of my artist friends who have expensive paintings, and I can honestly say, I enjoy the image just as much as having an original, and I don't need to insure it ;-)

Now you've really got me thinking Fiona.. I've been wanting to increase the price of my original so that I can work with galleries again and be able to handle the commission. If I have prints made as I need them, then I'm not all that dependent on the sales of my originals. That idea feels really good. I can even hang onto my originals if I want to.

Marsha McDonald

Very interesting article. I notice you do not mention any of the companies that not only make the prints, but also send them out for the artist. Have you used any of those places? If so, do they sell very well? I've heard some very mixed reviews! I used one years ago, and I was disappointed.

Lori Woodward
Marsha, I've left print fulfillment for a separate post. I always thought that these companies were a waste of time - until last year when I started hearing from artists that some of these companies were selling prints, the quality was good and they thought it a worthwhile venture.

In fact, 2 artists emailed me last week privately to explain with specifics on how they thought companies, such as Fine Art America and Cafe Press had done well for them. I need to do more research before I condone or condemn (which I won't actually do)... I think these companies may work well for some artists. I have an account with Fine Art America, but haven't had time to post any images yet. I'd like to try it out myself at some point. The problem is that I don't have time to pursue all the options available.

So yes, perhaps we can discuss that option in a future post because while it's not going to make a great deal of income for artists, any income derived from a print fulfillment company is truly passive income.

Durwood Coffey
I again, I don't favor either giclees or lithos, but lets talk dollars. To print a 24x20 @ .15 sq inch would cost $72.00. On top of this, I have to put a price on it. In my inventory, this size print has an $75 price tag avg. My last print bill was $1,800 for a 28"x40" sheet, which contained 4 images with a run of 400 sheets. I keep my runs around 325 on the average. This turns out to be about $2.00 per print, give or take. I also get the highest quality inks and museum quality acid free papers. I also realize that giclee are suppose to be of a higher quality, and I feel it is, but the difference is like picking out fly poop out of pepper. A question to all who is reading this, Lets say, you have an image that you are selling as a giclee, but than it took off.
So now your going back to the giclee printer and order 25 prints from him @ $75 each (one my get a print break) which equals $1,875 in his pocket. Does this not make one think about this? Again, it seems like everyone in this business is making money, except the artist. Back to what I'm saying, so the artist sells the giclee for $100 each. The artist ends up making $625 (repeat, the printer makes $1,875 and the artist makes $625 plus all the hours it took for their labor), plus some small extra cost. I know of artists, who have gone into the business of printing giclee for just this reason. One more thing, an artist finds that an image is taking off and decides to switch to lithos, what happens to the price? Plus some are printed on canvas and some are printed on paper?
This is why I'm on the fence about all this. I do sell both and at this point haven't had any problem. ON a Personal Note "I worked for a large company has their illustrator for 22 years. During that time, the company brought in the giclee printers to use. I have always felt like they are high end xerox machine, with a a fancy name "giclee", they could be called copies! Just my thoughts.


Marsha McDonald
Thanks, Lori. I will look forward to that discussion. I, too, had an account years ago with Fine Art America. At that time, I think they were fairly new? I didn't stay long for several reasons, but mostly because they had no one at all to contact if you needed help. Certainly, they might take some advice from the FASO tech group!!

Maybe things are different now - that was a long time ago. I'll look forward to that discussion. If we are talking about ways the artist can stay focused on painting more, I would be more than happy to pay a percentage to one of these companies IF I can be certain they are reliable and do the highest quality work.

Lori Woodward
Durwood, thanks for taking the time to do the math, and show how it all works out in the long run.

I hear ya on the cost. I plan on starting small - no larger than 12x16. My original paintings rarely larger than 16x20. Actually my printer is giving me an additional price break, but I didn't want to say that.

With your advice, I'm going to start small. I've done giclees but never lithographs, and I'm pretty happy with that model. My 9x12 giclee will cost me around $15 each from the printer - I'll sell it around $60 unframed with shipping over that. I also share a studio that has a gallery, and we do sell a lot of work from there, but my studio mate who sells cards and inexpensive items makes more sales during our open studios than we, who just have originals available. Rather than sell some of my unframed originals for $100 each (unframed), I'd rather sell some prints for less.

This model should work OK for me in my situation. I am not interested in investing a great amount of money to try this out, so smaller prints makes sense in this case. Durwood, I can fully understand why you'd want to choose lithos for some of your works... especially if the paper and inks are archival.

Thanks for adding to the conversation with specifics Durwood. Lithos are certainly sounding like a viable option. I don't actually know much about where to have them printed, so thanks again for taking the time to share your experience.

Marsha McDonald

I agree with you for the most part- I know there are certainly some prints of higher quality than others. But to me, a print is a print. I never, ever tell or imply to clients that my prints are going to be worth money someday. Only that for a much lower cost, they have a nice image to decorate with and to enjoy. There is certainly nothing wrong with that. In this day and time, many people cannot afford an expensive print, or an original painting. I think artists have a responsibility to make it possible for everyone to enjoy artwork!

Fiona Purdy
Durwood - the simple answer to your pricing question in your example is the price that is being charged for the print is not enough. If something costs the artist $75 - of course there is no money to be made is the artist is only asking $ 100 for it. (even worse is your first example - it costs you $72 and you only charge $75. You are the one that is gipping yourself.

I'm going to go off topic here and say that once again so many artists do not think about pricing correctly (in a business sense). so many just take a stab in the dark and pluck the price out of the air. Then they complain that everyone else is making money from the sale of artwork - except them.

Lori Woodward
I've been thinking lately that rather than have a big fulfillment company handle printing and shipment, I would love it if someone I know personally (not an artist) would start a small business where I license the image to her to make reproductions with the printer of her choice. She stores, markets, and ships the prints and gives me a 20 percent royalty of the net profit.

If this could be lucrative for her, she could handle several artists in different price ranges, and we artists could get some extra income in a truly passive sense. Having an individual that I know and trust to do this as a small business would be preferable to having a huge company - where I don't matter to them.

Yes, she'd be making more money than than the artist, but then I'm OK with that because she'd be doing the work I have no interest in doing. I need more time to paint new work, and I'd appreciate not having to go into the print business in order to sell prints.

Fiona Purdy
Marsha, why is it our responsibility as artists to make it possibly for everyone to enjoy artwork? Why is it my resposibility to provide artwork to someone who can't afford it? Is it a car makers responsibility to make it possible for everyone to have a car, or a home builder, or any other business for that matter?

We have to look after ourselves first (to live a humane life - with money to pay our bills and live a good life - and to run our business) before looking after anyone else. To do that we have to price our artwork correctly.
As Barney Davies says - do not price your artwork with what you have in your own wallet.

Lori Woodward
Yeah, good point Fiona. A friend of mine who is an art collector but buys boh originals and prints, ordered a giclee on paper from artist, Nelson Boren. His originals are way out of site of most art consumers, and the 12x12 giclee was $250. Not inexpensive - but comparatively affordable when you consider the cost of the original.

Settlers West Gallery has a giclee print space where Stuart Johnson (owner) sells giclees on canvas by some of the artists he carries. Some of these nicely framed giclees are $1500 - for the reproduction. They sell well.

That reminds me.. not to sound like a broken record,(which I'm old enough to understand), Barney Davey recently wrote a book on pricing fine art prints. I haven't read it yet, but I have a copy - I expect the text to be very helpful.

Perhaps Durwood was thinking I was going to sell a huge giclee for $75... nope, If I had a large one made, it would be around $250... maybe $300 on canvas. But as I said, I'm staying small - to keep prices down and shipping boxes small.

My example was what I did in 1998. Things are different now, I was getting about $1200 for an original at a gallery at that time.... so my framer sold those prints for $450 each nicely framed, and she sold all of them.

Marsha McDonald
That is how I feel, Lori. If it is someone you know, and this person is one who cares about the quality of work and the service they provide to people, I would be happy to pay them well!

Lori Woodward
Marsha, I spoke about this idea to her last year, but she didn't bite even though she briefly considered it. I only mention it because it might be a nice business for someone who knows about art (usually an informed collector) who has extra time and good admin skills.

So, maybe you can find someone you know. Of course there's risk with any sales venture, and this person would be the one to take that risk - because they would need to invest money in prints and a website to sell them.. plus take time to market those prints.

Lori Woodward
I'm off line for awhile again. Will check back this evening.
As small business owners, we have many choices - and we need to take our personality traits, and schedule restrictions into consideration.

I do have financial goals. It's really important for me to make income from my work for a number of reasons. I've been lowering my prices so that I sell work, but that's gotta stop. Just last week, an avid art collector who had just spent $25,000 on artwork saw my work and remarked to everyone how good my work is.

I listened to a webcast given by Barney Davey and Jason Horejs on pricing original art - last week. It's still available online for free (on youtube I think). the broadcast encouraged me to rethink my pricing strategies for originals - which is what got me thinking more seriously about reproductions so I can have more than one set of buyers.

Basically what Jason and Barney said... if you can't sell your originals for a good price in your current venue, find the venue where you can get the highest value for your work. For me, that would mean re-entering the gallery system.

Marsha McDonald
Lori, I did the very same thing a year or so ago with a friend of mine. Like you, I didn't have any luck - she felt she didn't know
enough, and didn't want to put that kind of money up front.

Lori Woodward
My friend found a new full time job. Well, if I weren't an artist, I'd do it... but I already have a job ;-)

Marsha McDonald

I re-read my post that you have commented on. It was not my intention to imply that we should give away our artwork to people who cannot afford it. Actually, I don't see where I said that? I have always made a profit on my work, unless I choose to donate something? Let me try to be clearer.

Offering prints enables me to, as Lori pointed out, have more than one set of buyers. When I do that, I just charge a lot less for prints, because, in my humble opinion, they ARE prints, not originals. But I can assure you - I don't go into debt making prints and giving them away? The point I'd hoped to make is that offering prints at lower costs offers a way for people who cannot afford originals to still enjoy artwork?

That makes ME happy - I guess I'm just funny that way. I wasn't suggesting that other artists should feel that way too.

Fiona Purdy
So sorry Marsha I misunderstood when I read the last sentence in one of your prior posts. " I think artists have a responsibility to make it possible for everyone to enjoy artwork! "

I took everyone to mean exactly that, those who could afford your prices and those who couldn't.

Now I understand what you meant.

I however don't understand why you charge A LOT less for prints because they aren't originals. I think you are leaving money on the table because of a belief or an opinion you have about the value of an original vs a print. Why wouldn't you want to make as much as you could on one of your prints? Just because you believe that a print has to be a lot less than an original, that doesn't mean every one else does. I'll quote Barney again as It also applies to this scenario - Don't price your work by what you have in your wallet.
In this case I think that what the market will bear should be the deciding factor on the profit you make from your prints ( and originals too for that matter).

Lori Woodward
Fiona, Marsha is going to start worrying about every word she uses. I think I understand her message. Each of us has to find our own way - we don't really know what Marsha charges for her originals or her prints.

I'm friends with a couple of artists who charge around $200 to $300 for their unframed prints. Their originals start at $20,000. That's a lot less.

I'll be charging about the same rate as some of my friends do who sell their originals for the same price I do. I bought an 8x12 unframed giclee on canvas from Carol Swinney a couple of years ago at $60. Her originals are much more expensive than mine.. out of my range. I'm sure her larger prints are more expensive. I'l be selling my small prints between $60 and $95 unframed. I'l make a nice profit. I expect to make a pretty good sum from my originals.

I'm just looking for a way to bring income on the side without having to paint for each sale.

Fiona Purdy
Lori - you are exactly right, each of us has to do what's right for us and our own individual businesses. We all want different things from our art. I got sidetracked by Durwood's post about pricing.

Sorry Marsha if my post felt like I was singling you out and getting on your case, that surely was not my intention.

I just wanted to maybe get artists to see the business of art from a different angle - rather than seeing it colored by the old myths and beliefs that unfortunately still exist right now. Maybe just to question a few of the old so called "rules" created by people other than artists.

Sorry for taking your post into a different direction, I'll get off my soapbox now.

Much success to everyone!

Marsha McDonald
That's okay, Fiona...... This is, after all, a forum where artists can just discuss the business. We do not all need to agree on everything. (:

You could be right? That I am not maximizing my profits on prints because of my belief that a print isn't as valuable as an original. When I say I charge a lot less, I still think I make a decent profit? I don't mean to make it sound like I only make five dollars over what I spent having it printed. Again, as I said in my last post, I am not insisting that everyone else should feel as I do?

And this is MY personal opinion. I am also a collector, and I've spent quite a lot of money on some pretty big name artists. I just know that I personally would not spend fifteen hundred dollars for a print, no matter how fine it is. I'd rather put that toward an original. If one is a big name artist who commands $50,000 for an original, then perhaps if I really wanted something of his/hers, I'd have to spend that to get a print? And that's perfectly okay if another person does that. I'm not saying it shouldn't be done - just that I personally don't think I ever would? In view of this, I want my own prints to sell, and I want people who do/can NOT buy originals, to still be able to have something of mine if they so choose. So for me, it's important that I offer artwork in many different price ranges.

You also mentioned that same guy Lori did, Barney Davey? I've not heard of him, but I'm sure going to look for him tonight on You Tube. I make my living at this, and have for forty some odd years, so I am interested in his opinion.

Lori Woodward
Barney Davey and Jason Horejs do free webinars fairly often. They use Google Hangout and the webinars are recorded on youtube.

They did a recent one on pricing artwork. It's on youtube. I listened and found the info very helpful. Both these guys spoke at an art marketing seminar I gave at Scottsdale Artist School in 2012. Jason owns a gallery on Main Street in Scottsdale and Barney worked in the print industry for many years.

Here's the link. It's long so get a snack and watch the movie.
Hope the link works.

Lori Woodward
Thanks Fiona! I feel much better.

Marsha McDonald
Oh, thanks, Lori, I'll listen to it tonight!

Good article and comments.

I think artists make a major mistake when they price their prints by doubling what their printing costs are. Tripling, or actually even more, makes more financial sense.

Because if the artist later decides to sell those prints in another person's gallery/shop/ etc. then that other business will want those prints at wholesale, 50 percent of retail. So where is the profit for the artist? It is 'zip' and probably in the hole as well. I also see artists do this when they sell their note cards way too cheap.

I think artists must also consider their set up time on the prints, color correction time, time for back and forth communication with the printer, (I'm really picky on color accuracy and it takes time to get it right.) email/phone time with prospective clients, the time it takes to ship and package, travel time to ship, travel time to printer or to the store to buy more ink and paper, then packaging of the print in clear bags if they are unframed, possibly matting or backing board to keep the print secure in the clear bags. If the prints are on canvas then they need to be stretched, and if so, by whom? The artist? Do you enjoy stretching prints?? I sure don't! So you have to pay someone to stretch the prints and they have to know what they're doing because it is a lot more tricky than stretching canvas for painting. I swear a lot during the process! Then you need wire and 'D' hooks on the back and the time to add those, plus any labels or business cards secured on the back. And if the prints are framed, then design and frame time, plus frame costs, any advertising, any promotion time and cost. I'm just saying that there is a whole lot more to it than just printing! And figuring in painting time lost and how to make a healthy profit via the prints is key!

I am also thinking of giving a friend a job to sell my prints but giving that person 80 percent of the profit doesn't make any sense to me financially. 50/50 is better. But still, I want to look at the real costs and time involved and the value of my art image to be sold via print, before I make that decision. Plus figuring in how I will want to price the prints if they're sold wholesale, and they probably will be even if the majority are sold directly - wholesale prices still need to be figured in. Then to figure out how to make it win/win with my person doing the marketing and all the running around involved.

I just finished a small run of prints on canvas for a client. So all this is fresh in my mind. It was amazingly time consuming to get the job done right. I tripled my printing cost and I under paid myself for all my time involved. What ate up my time was getting a great photo and then working with the printer to get it right. It was an extra difficult image to capture because of strong lights and darks and subtle middle tones. Art copy is a true art form and I'm still learning. Scott Burdick's video is excellent and has helped me a lot.

So my point with my diatribe is: value yourself and your time!
I say this to myself as much as to you.


Marsha McDonald

Thank you for the detailed information. This has, so far, been a lively discussion and I've enjoyed it! That is probably why I would prefer to pay someone to do all that. I want to focus more on the process of painting. I agree, going to my printer's place is quite a drive. The process of printing, on the whole, takes our time, (I am picky too!) and the artist should get paid for it. I have no problem understanding WHY artists need to make more money selling their prints. I would probably never spend hundreds of dollars for a print, but I realize there are many people out there who would. So, yes, everyone needs to consider all the options they have, and the expenses involved, then charge what they think they need to make.

Barney Davey
Hi Lori, Great post, lively discussion. I love it all and all the opinions. I will comment more tomorrow evening when I have more time. In 1988-90, I had the New England territory for Decor magazine. That's when Mel Hunter, of Hunter Graphics fame, first introduced me to the concept of digital printing fine art. This was prior to giclee being coined as a Frenchified art term for art print. He was a great guy and opened my mind to the possibilities. More to say about open edition prints vs. limited, pricing, fulfillment and more, I'm sure. Thanks to the kind words from David Randall. I still recall him emailing after reading my book and buying it somewhat skeptically. I was humbled and honored by what he had to say. Thank you, too, Lori, for touting my book and blog.

Durwood Coffey
Everyone, this was excellent!!!!! Nice exchanges of ideas. lori, I wasn't thinking that you were selling lg prints for a low price, I just picked a size, that I would think was an average size of art work and did the math. Now that I've moved into 4'x5'size paintings, giclee is the way I'll have to go to reproduce them. I'm sure when it comes to selling art, most artist feels that everyone else is making money and I'm not. The fact is, 2D art, "Our" art, is the hardest art to sell and we are always looking for a better way to produce sales. I do feel that prints sales have been flat in the quit a few years. I'm in michigan, so print sales here are almost extinct LOL!

Lori Woodward
Hi Barney!! Good to see you here. I thought the youtube webinar on pricing was extremely helpful, and it turned me in a different direction for art sales.

Anyway, I so appreciate everyone's contributions, and I'm reading all the comments. I have to go to the studio today though - where I have no wifi (which is a good thing). So I'll check back later to catch up. You all seem purely capable of sharing ideas without me. TTYL Lori

jack white

In the 1980ies and 1990ies paper litho prints were the rage. Then that market dried up. Windburg was making 10,000 in an edition of his prints. He even purchased a print house and then the market fell apart. Dealers were closing right and left.

At one time I had 500 print dealers. I sold 87,000 8x10 framed prints to gift shops, Neiman Marcus, Dillards and lots of other outlets. I also owned a showroom in the Dallas Trade Mart, which gave me a way to sell my product.

I sold out 27 editions of 20x24 framed and matted prints of a 1000 images. 27,000 framed litho prints.

Today I doubt if I could give one away. The digital prints have taken place of the litho for several reasons. One the life span of the inks today is 250 years or longer. Two you can print them on demand. With my lithos I had to print the entire 1000 at one time.

If an artist is selling their originals for under $1,000 then there is little reason for people to buy a print. For a little more they can buy an original. I see artists selling $300 originals trying to sell giclees. Why? Why would I buy a print for $250 when for $50 more I can get the original?

When you are selling all the originals you can paint then consider prints. If you have a garage full of originals then prints are not the answer. You first need to make some art folks will buy.

If you make one piece everyone wants then prints will work, but just to print, prints to be doing them is a bad use of time and money.


Lori Woodward
Thanks Jack for chiming in! There's really nothing I can add to your words and experience. I appreciate your contribution.
Things for me to keep in mind as I make some changes.

Esther J. Williams
Lori, I played around in the print market for other famous artists back in the late 1980s, lithos were all the rage. I could not believe the profits that were made then. When I started reproducing my own artwork into giclees and art paper prints in early 2000, it did not profit me at all. I have had recent success with one artwork that the original sold for over $2,000. I have sold a few giclees of it for $500 a piece, but is is 24x36. Now I feel it is time to offer small paper or canvas prints of my many other smaller works. I got a nice Canon printer and will buy the digital fine art products through JerrysArtarama. I am only interested in printing 4x6" to 8-1/2x11 sizes. I want to offer these sizes as they will be affordable and I can print one on demand or several at a time. For anything larger than what my good little printer can do, I have a professional printer/photographer to take my originals to. He shoots them on a large scanner, adjusts them and gives me a CD of the image. I can order just about any size in any type of paper or canvas for a decent price from him. It does cost $75 to get that CD for a large painting image, but I will only have it done if there is a request. I have learned there is no use having all your artwork scanned if there are not orders for a giclee. That is why the home based printing sounds easier for me. I can send a greeting card to repeat buyers or even box up several. I am thinking of dedicating a page on my website for print ordering in the 8x10 or smaller size. You are right about a passive income, it makes a lot of sense to offer prints. I am getting too many people now who like my art, have become fans but can not afford an original. Why not tap into that market?

Monika Dery
Yes, I watched he Davy/Horejs video the other day as I am on Jason Horeijs' newsletter email list. Excellent and the program, although seemingly long, flows with lots of back and forth, great information and doesn't ever become boring. I recommend it highly and will watch for further emails or information here in this forum. Bonus!

Jill Nichols

Hi Lori,

Prints are what launched my painting career in 2000. A friend in the printing business printed off 200 prints and note cards of my first painting. The prints and note cards sold quickly. I still have the original; I decided not to sell it.

I then decided that I would sell prints of my work for three reasons: They serve as marketing pieces-more images in more places, they served as a regular source of income and I did not want to part with the originals until they would command the prices that I deemed that they were worth. I first bought a small Epson (Tabloid size). In 2004, I invested in an Epson 9600, 44? wide-format printer with 7 archival inks. I have made and sold many prints for myself and other artists since then. Most months I get a check from one of my vendors from the sale of a print(s). In fact, since the economic downturn, the selling of the prints has kept me in business and kept me painting. I do make prints for a limited number of artists as well. If anyone is interested in having prints made please contact me from my website, 
Thanks, Jill 

Lori Woodward
wow Jill, that's encouraging news about your print business. I have noticed that prints sell better during recessions.

It's good to hear from someone who bought an Epson and is doing her own prints. May I ask what kind of vendors you use? I'm just curious. It sounds like you consign the prints.
Are they on paper, canvas or both?

A friend of mine is having some giclees made to consign at an interior designer's business. I think that's a good idea - Barney Davey recently had a post on how artists might take advantage of selling through interior designers. There are many more of them than galleries.

Thanks again for the info. I too have considered buying my own printer, which I may do at some point.

Lori Woodward
Oh, I just went to your website... you offer canvas or paper and seem to price by the size. You sell these unframed, unstretched. Earlier in the comments, we discussed whether the prints needed to be framed or stretched to offer a finished, ready to hang work. Do you think that selling them flat has held up sales for you?

Barney Davey
Hi all, there are lots of great comments and observations here. It serves as a microcosm of the print market. That is, there are success stories and sad tales, too. Jack's advice is spot on and dovetails from similar thoughts found in my "How to Profit from the Art Print Market" book. Here is what I have to say about getting work into the market.

How Can I Tell whether My Art is Appropriate for Publishing?

You may instinctively know that your art is appropriate for being published; it is likely the reason you are now reading this book. Nonetheless, you can use the following to help make this determination. You will know your art is right for the art print market if:

Ӣ your originals are getting prices that take too many collectors out of your buying pool;
Ӣ your art is in such demand that you could have sold your originals many times over;
Ӣ you cannot produce on a schedule to meet the demand for your originals;
Ӣ you desire or need a secondary source of income from your art;
Ӣ you are creating art specifically for the print market.

If you answered with affirmative responses to these questions, you are a great candidate to jump on the art-print bandwagon.

Are There Reasons to Avoid the Art Print Market?

Yes, and the reasons to avoid this market include the following:

Ӣ Your subject matter is too esoteric or inappropriate to be workable in the mainstream print market.
Ӣ If your original work is not moving, you may compound your situation by investing in the print market. If this is your case, most publishers will grasp this whether you tell them or not, because it is their job to have a finger on the pulse of the market. This is not to say you would never get a bite from a publisher, but it is far less likely if your originals are not already selling well.
Ӣ Alternatively, upon investigation, it could be that you decide not to pursue publishing.

Through nearly 30 years of working with artists on their marketing and advertising plans, and how to succeed in the print market, I have observed there are as many ways to succeed as there are artists. The pattern I see is not necessarily following a certain set of steps, although it does not hurt to research how other successful artists have done it.

Here is the scoop. You have to be positive, you have to have work people want to buy, you have to have a plan and believe in and work it. What works for someone else does not mean it will work for you. Find the right vein and tap it until it is dry. Be always on the lookout for anything new that you can introduce to help you. Don't try to do it all, because you can't.

You have to ignore the negative energy vampires who, not always intentionally, but nevertheless seek to plant doubt and rob you of your conviction and enthusiasm. Put these people out of your life. Price your work to make a decent profit, or make making art a hobby. You are a small business entrepreneur as much as you are an artist. Be as respectful of how you do your business as you are in how you make your art.

Lori Woodward
Barney, thank you thank you thank you!!!
Perfectly said.

Marsha McDonald

What about the publishing companies that print huge quantities of prints and distribute them to the large chain stores who sell them at super cheap prices?

I have sold prints out of two different frame stores over the years. One store belongs to a woman who is a good friend, as well, so she tells me truthfully what she deals with.

Basically, she has problems selling many of my larger prints, only because they are between one and two hundred fifty dollars. She said people sometimes comment that they can buy big, gorgeous, top quality prints at other stores for 39.95 - or somewhere in that price range. Although they may love my image, she tells me she doesn't always sell them and she thinks the people go on to the local discount print place. Or, she even keeps a large bin of lovely prints herself. They are priced around 79.00, and she has told me that several times a person interested in one of my large prints for 150.00 decided on one that is even larger for much less than that? This is one more reason why I prefer originals because by the time I pay for the printing costs - even though they are much more reasonable these days - I just find that for the most part - making and selling prints is a big headache? My printer is about thirty miles from me, so by the time you make several trips back and forth.......well, you understand, and it's what many of the artists on here are talking about - it isn't worth it.

Do you have any suggestions for us?

jack white

This is great stuff. Like you said unless you have art people want to buy then prints are not for you. They are not the answer to poor sales.

You should do an article for FASO. With your knowledge you can help a lot of folks.


Jill Nichols

Hi Lori,

Thanks for tracking down the info on my websites. The list that you're currently looking at is a modified list of prices for artists- I need to address that very soon. I used to have several artists on my online gallery- www. I would sell and make prints for those artists as well. Now I am choosing to focus on painting and let the rest settle out for awhile. My plan is to set up an ecommerce on my FASO site. Specifically I'm spending a lot of time painting en plein air.

The prints that I'll be selling online will be flat, sent in an envelope or mailing tube. This would be less money outlaid and less expensive for the customer.

As to finish, I frame and/or mat all of the prints I sell in brick and mortar stores. Some of my 'local scene' art sells in gift shops and galleries-both in CT and VT. People seem to like having the piece all finished. Something else to keep in mind is that not all images will sell well as prints. There are certain images that resonate well with many people. You'll want to keep that in mind when choosing from which painting to make prints. Certain images such as 'Idle Opti's', 'The Race', 'Motif #1, 'Last Light', and the Lighthouse have all been popular- there is an audience for them. Other pieces, paintings that might be solid and stunning do not have a print audience. I do not plan on making any prints of any of my plein air-I may change that but for one thing I don't think that there is an audience for those and that is truly a moment in time- a live performance so to speak. I don't want to remove the viewer from the spontaneity of those pieces.

As folks have mentioned- one has to believe in ones? self and work. When I was just starting out, after a big show, I had plenty of paintings and prints left. I had sold a few pieces which encouraged me. I was looking at a lot of my time and energy wrapped up in all that work that was now piled high in my car. I was determined not to bring any of it home. I found a place to sell my paintings and another to sell my prints. Sometimes you just have to be determined.

As to substrate-I sell both canvas and paper. Lately 8'x10' canvas prints, framed, have been selling nicely. I think it also depends on whether or not the original looks like an oil or a water color painting. I paint in mostly in oils, yet some of my paintings are mistaken for watercolors, those sell well on the paper while the other paintings sell best on canvas.


Jill Nichols
As to selling to Interior Designers. That is a personal decision. It can be lucrative. Just keep in mind that this is business and you have to be careful of your own self interests as well as protect your artistic integrity.


jack white

Many of the mass produced framed prints you see in CosCo, WalMart,Dollar General and such are printed in China. They produce them for less than you can buy a frame. Many hotel chains buy their art through companies that print in China. They pay $35 for a matted, famed, behind glass print. (20x30)

We printed our second table top book in Hong Kong for half what it would have cost in the states. With shipping we saved $75,000. It's amazing how cheap they print stuff at a high quality.

I've bid some of those jobs back several years ago. It's an eye opener how little hotels pay.

They bring this art in containers from China.

Marsha McDonald

How interesting......I had no idea! Well, that's one reason I guess why it's so hard for us to sell prints at a decent price over here - we cannot compete with those kind of prices for people just "looking for a pretty image." If it's important enough to a potential buyer to purchase something they really want, from an artist they really like, then perhaps they will pay the price? I'm with you, though.......I had to smile when you mentioned a garage full of prints in one of your earlier posts. That can sure happen!

Just to clarify my earlier comments that were perceived as negative. I apparently didn't communicate my thoughts well. I have been selling prints in a ski resort town for several years. Well for over 20 years. I've done very well financially with my prints. And sold a few hundred to real estate developments along the way and on my own and through local shops. My intention was to give the detailed version on what goes into it, my own experience in how I do things, the nitty gritty, the time requirements and challenges, with a bit of tough in check that apparently did not translate in my writing and was perceived as, well, "negative".
So, I'm off to paint more,

jack white

Remember some wouldn't be happy if they were going to be hung with a new rope. Play no attention to static.


Lori Woodward
Thanks everyone for continuing to comment, om reading them but am busy with company staying with us. I'll check in later when I get time.

Brian Sherwin
WOW! There is so much info to take in. I LOVE the debate that has happened with this article, Lori. Bravo!

I noticed pricing has been debated. I see nothing wrong with offering affordable artwork (original or reproduction).You have to keep in mind that most people -- assuming they purchase any print or original piece during their lifetime -- are not going to spend $1,000 .

I would suggest -- and I know others agree -- that your Average Joe and Jane art buyer will likely spend no more than $500 for a piece. I imagine most would view $100 as a stretch. Thus, it may pay to create reproductions and small original works with Average Joe and Jane in mind. I actually just posted an article about this on The Art Edge.

Now... I also know that many artists scoff at offering affordable works at that price range. BUT I also know, and I will be frank, MANY financially broke artists. They are sitting around with artwork that is priced to gather dust. Period. My point: If you can demand thousands of dollars for your artwork on a regular basis... great for you! However, if said work does not unload easily -- it might be wise to consider offering affordable artwork... be it in the form of a print or small original pieces.

Which would you rather have happen? One $3,000 mid-sized painting sold in a span of 5 years... OR one hundred small, very small, $100 paintings sold each year? Why not try both directions?

Believe it or not, there are many artists 'out there' pulling in a decent income by offering various work price between $25 and $200. Cory Huff recently pointed to an artist who earned $50,000 in one year by offering extremely affordable artwork. Scoff at that if you wish... but I imagine many artist would LOVE to earn that kind of coin from their artwork.

The art community -- in general -- needs to stop looking down at affordable artwork. I've always been told that there are only 300 or so wealthy art collectors actively buying art at any given time. Obviously those buyers can't cover every artist working today (based on NEA tax info -- there are over 2 million artists paying taxes on art-related business today in the United States alone) and those buyers are likely guided on what to purchase in the first place. Yet there are millions of people 'out there' would LOVE to own art... if only they could afford it. That BIG group offers HUGE market potential.

Brian Sherwin
As for art reproductions / prints in general (specifically print on demand)... I just posted a list of problems that I have with those services. See,

I DO think that it is best to work directly, as in face-to-face, with a printer OR obtain the equipment / skills needed to create your own prints.

Face it... when it comes down to the line most of the BIG print on demand companies are trying to push frames, cut as much cost (on their end) as they can to earn profit from YOUR work, nail artists with as many fees as they can, and so on. They have their 'bottom line' in mind. Heck, some of these services won't allow you to set your own prices unless you pay a monthly fee for 'Premium' service! I know of a few that hold profit as well... until it passes $100. As Andy Warhol said, it is about the money, honey. ;p

If you look at POD services -- in general -- closely... you will find that you, the artist, have little control over that aspect of your business. You are giving the POD service -- due to stipulations, pricing structure, various restrictions, profit placed on hold,enforced requirements (such as forcing buyers to select a frame) etc. -- pretty much all of the control / profit over that aspect of your art marketing efforts.

Meet with a local printer... you might be surprised at how affordable it can be -- and YOU are in complete control. Plus, if you send the prints yourself -- you can sign them (even better if the print run is a limited edition run) and offer a certificate of authenticity (which is important today). I'm sorry, but anything less is a glorified poster in my opinion.

Many thanks Jack for the reminder! I think you're wonderful, by the way.

Brian, you are right spot on about working in person with a good printer.

Back to painting,

Marsha McDonald

Yikes! Your post is an eye opener to me. I didn't know those POD companies had such policies. I tried one of them years ago, but I think they had only been in business a short while? I just recall they had absolutely no one to talk with if you had a question. I didn't stay with them long.

Hmmm.... I may need to re-think the direction I wanted to go in? From past experience making my own small prints, I felt since the inks are so expensive, and they run out quickly, that maybe I could offset the extra costs of a POD by having more painting time if I didn't have to handle the printing and shipping? In view of what you've mentioned - probably not!

Barney Davey
And the debate goes on... Brian, I don't hate any business that helps artists sell their work. Online POD providers are not all the same. Some let you mark up the work above costs with no restrictions. I think most allow purchases of rolled canvas, or unframed paper. I equate their services to that of poster publishers. If I am buying, or selling for that matter, an inexpensive poster, or POD image off the internet, my expectations are not the same as if I am buying an exquisitely reproduced image direct from the artist or a gallery. I believe it all comes down to perspective, and that the artist can and should be in control of how that perspective is communicated. Either you control your brand, which includes how your reproductions are perceived, or someone else will. These services are not going away because they fill a need. If some artists can find ways to help them earn a living, that is all good from my perspective.

Speaking of perspective, this post inspired me to republish one from the Art Print Issues vault. It is titled "Comparing Giclee Prints to Pret a Porter Redux."

Haute couture is about the one-of-a-kind original garments made with creativity and to the highest standards, as is making original art. Pret a porter, (ready-to-wear) is about making lower priced revisions of the originals so the masses can enjoy them and the design houses can have another steady source of income, much like making giclees gives artists a secondary source of income.

Walter Paul Bebirian
my perception is that many PODs that print glicees are not printing en mass but individually and so they are comparable to custom photo labs that have been printing for both amateur and professional photographers for many years as well as for such famous photographer such as Richard Avedon - whose work is both in the MOMA and the Modern -

knowledge of the technology and how it works would tell you that there is no way to do a run of 100 - or 1,000 or 2 - the prints are made one at a time and therefore cannot be compared to poster prints that are made in quantity -

from the point of view of both a photographer and an artist - the control and results possible utilizing the digital manipulations possible in the computer as well as the options available with the POD services - offers quality far beyond anything ever possible before with photographic paper and more true to the colors that I am creating with my computer when it comes to my art abstracts -

Lori Woodward
POD services have changed in the last couple of years, that artists can directly link to their page from social media. I've been interviewing artists who have had had good sales with POD services, they subscribe for free and in addition to having sales for prints, and many have sold their originals, Which can be posted on sites like Fine Art America. I've heard the quality is good.

Although no one is making a fortune, it's nice to receive a check without any work or shipping. You can sell while you sleep. I'm definitely going to try it out to experiment for myself.

Lori Woodward
I'm lacking a keyboard... So typos. Also I'm away for the weekend... Will join back on Monday, but I Am enjoying reading comments. The purpose is to help artists find ways to bring in extra income... Like Barney said. We have many options, and which ones we choose depend on each of our personalities, and circumstances.

I want passive income.

Marsha McDonald

That's great to know - I will probably go ahead then and try it out!
It would be so nice to have that time available for painting. (:

Lori Woodward
Marsha, look up Anna Rose Bain. Or See if you know any other artists who are using FAA. Don't use the pay account to start... Use the free version. I haven't read through their agreement, but of course you'll want to known the particulars before you sign on. I just know it's been working for some artists,

I can't say whether I'll sell anything through them or not... As long as doesn't cost me to try, I might do so. I'll go back and read Brian's comment in full when I get some time. In fact I'm going to read through all the comments again.

Walter Paul Bebirian
let me see now - I read above - don't use their paid site offering - use only the free one -

well then - why should anyone pay for your image - they can all look at them for free on the Internet -

I sounds as if people are opposed to paying for a site - that had spent most probably hundreds of thousands on hosting - developers and whatever other expenses are incurred to show artists images as well as some type of marketing - and for this they are accused of ripping the artist off by charging some type of fee?

I remember a question that was posed once - do the non profits go to the phone company and the electric company and claim that they should not pay the fees that they have incurred?

Lori Woodward
Walter, I have my own website that I pay for. working with FAA would be a separate sales venture. I Have sold original work from my websites.

Fine Art America makes money when they print and sell your work - shipping it to the customer. The artist gets a percentage of the sale. I cant say off hand what that is. I think that perhaps I wasn't clear in my comment. I was just saying to try the POD service with their free account first to see if she likes it. Marsha already has a very nice website for her work, which I'm sure she's paid for.

My original post was not necessarily about print on demand services. I may cover that sometime in the future. This particular post was originally slated for deriving semi-passive income with giclee prints.

I don't know many artists who nave free websites... Except maybe college students. If an artist wants free... Sometimes must a blog with Blogspot does well. I've had my website with FASO since 2007. In fact I have 2. Each costs $28 month.

Marsha McDonald

I will have to investigate - I haven't been on their site in years.

However, if I find on their site that they offer a "free 30 day trial" which is quite common, then I must ask why you would find something wrong with an artist taking advantage of their offer?

I'm guessing that is what Lori meant when she suggested that.

Lori Woodward
Again, sorry about the typos. But let me reiterate. I think artists need professional websites. I also think they need their own domain names (URL), so I agree with you. Fine art America is a separate print on demand service, not a website.

Ok friends, it's late. Talk to you later. Thanks to all who have contributed info. And thanks Barney for the link to this blog from yours... Very kind of you.

Ric Nagualero
First of all, Great Post Lori and comments! Great fan of Jack, Barney (books), Brian, and Your posts on this forum. Thank you for sharing your knowledge

On the subject of POD services. I've been using FAA for 4 years now. I did not sell a thing for the first two years. For the last two years I get a nice extra income on the 15 th of nearly every month. The quality is decent and the option are many, which suits my purposes for now.

Brian, you are quite right about not wanting to exhibit an oil painting next to a bad doodle or thousands of them for that matter but FAA offers your own site option to display your prints included on the yearly payment to use their services. This is good in my opinion. But i agree with you that its betterfor some to do it all yourself, so your marketing efforts are paid in full. In my case, i save most of my marketing efforts and time for the originals and at times limited editions. You can check my FAA shop here: edition prints/all

The only reason I think I sell though, is because I promote them with links to my faa shop on my youtube videos and through my newsletter.
Actually FAA advises and gives you a Facebook app to market your images in order for people to find them.

My 2 cents on my experience with passive income and FAA, hope it helps!

Brian Sherwin
Marsha -- They don't all have the same policies... but I have seen examples of specific POD companies holding funds until a certain price point is earned (For example, you must earn over $100 before you receive your payment), many of them do try to push frames, and most DO have some form of image standard -- as in, some images will likely be censored in the sense that the transaction will not be finalized due to the image being deemed not appropriate.

In general... I DO think it is best to offer prints yourself. Either work with a local printer OR obtain the equipment and skills. That way you have far more control over YOUR prints -- and thus, YOUR business.

Angelo Sotira of deviantART (which has one of the longest operated POD services online today)recently offered a few thoughts about POD in general. It seems he feels that POD may end up being an obsolete model sooner than later.

Angelo Sotira stated, "Printing businesses are not very good businesses relevant to digital goods marketplaces or our new commissions marketplaces. This is because too high a percent goes to the actual print, frame, shipping, etc. Artists are better off selling digital print files for a fee and offering commission services or selling subscriptions or tolls for art projects online and for mobile.". He added, "With these, a much higher percent goes to artists. Most of the money in printing is spent on frames!".

He also noted that the DA's POD service is a 'labor of love' for his company. From what I gathered... it only exists because the artists in that community wanted it.

Lori Woodward
Ric, thanks for sharing your info and providing links. Do you have any idea why you suddenly started selling work on your FAA account?

No matter how an artist sells work, I think direct links to where the work can be purchased is an important step. The fewer clicks to get to the "buy now" button, the better. And of course, images of the artwork is equally important.

Brian Sherwin
Barney -- You said, "I don't hate any business that helps artists sell their work.". It depends. I never assume that a company is 100 percent focused on artists until I clearly see that in how the business functions, if it holds itself to a high ethical standard concerning other businesses, and how it treats artists and other customers, and so on.

I helped 'take down' a POD service a few years ago. The founder of the service was not the most ethical businessman. He ended up trying to rip off over 800 artists by altering their images -- and offering them as prints under an alias... and in some cases he actually used the artist name. Furthermore, he lied about company partnerships -- made HUGE false claims about partnerships. It was a mess. I'll admit that it changed the way I view POD in general. I'm not one to fall for hype in the first place. I dig, dig, dig for information.

You said, "These services are not going away because they fill a need.".

I'm sure they will still exist in some form. BUT according to industry sources I have -- they are def' taking a dent compared to years past. That is why some of them are frantically trying to find ways to add to their service beyond just POD.

Again, Angelo Sotira, an industry leader, made it very clear to me that it would be insane to offer a service that is purely POD driven at this point. Just saying. :)

Also, there was a recent article -- I believe it was on the New York Times -- that discussed POD and prints in general. It noted that people are more apt to buy an art print IF it is a signed / limited edition print. At the least, the article stressed that buyers like prints signed. I do know that some POD services allow you to offer only a limited number of specific prints. That said, you will not be able to sign them unless you order them yourself and offer them from that point.

I'm not really against all of these POD services. That said, I DO think that artists need to look beyond the hype... and consider just how much control the service has over their business. Think in terms of: Could I earn more if offered prints in a different way?

If an artist does well on a POD service -- great. That said, if he or she is spending $30 a month... with little to no sold prints -- it might be wise to take a step back. Those 'Premium' fees can chip away at the profit you make on the service. With that in mind, Lori is spot-on. Try the service for free first if you can.

jack white

A few tips for those wanting to do their own printing or have their work done. Shoot your own images. For years we had a 10 mpx camera that we made up to 36x48 prints. Recently I got Mikki a 26 mpx that makes huge files. We can print 48x72 prints from our own files.

We use daylight bulbs in the studio and shoot the art on a tripod with a timer. We get prints as good as the stuff shot with a large studio digital cameras. We don't have to haul or ship the art to a camera studio, which for us is San Antonio. We photograph the art wet, which you can't do out of your own studio.

An artist can buy a 10 or 12 mpx digital camera these days for what you can have three images shot in a photographers studio.

We use to email the large files to our printer. I think they are now called It's a good service, about $16 a month.


Lori Woodward
Btian, I plan to do both... My own giclees and FAA, and sell originals. Nothing stopping me from having multiple streams of income via several venues. The giclees I have printed will be sold from my studio and to students. I was totally with you where POD services are a year ago, but since some of my friends are very happy with recent results with FAA, I'm changing my views. I have not had the time to investigate other companies.

I am really a full time artist with an interest in art marketing research, which consists of talking artists in a variety of career levels and venues. Those who are making the best income have multiple streams of income. Others who have depended solely on galleries amd agents have had hard times recently. What works for one artist may not work for another.

There are pros and cons to each venue. My plan includes a little bit of this and that. For me, everything changes about every 5 years. I sold my own giclees, but I travel a lot, so I'd either have to hire someone to ship them, sell them to a frame shop, or both. That said, I'm absolutely convinced that I'd make better income if I were to offer something at a lower price point than my originals.

If FAA works for me as well as it has for some of my colleagues, it would be a good choice since I already wear too many career hats and don't want to be tied down to a location.

Brian Sherwin
Ric -- Can you have a unique domain name with FAA? Or are you stuck with ''? I'm guessing you can't based on what I've read.

FFA stated, "You get your very own website ( which you can use to showcase your images, sell prints with custom framing and matting, sell greeting cards, issue press releases, advertise your upcoming events, post blogs... and much more."

I'm sorry... but if you are stuck with '' it is not YOUR 'very own website'. In other words, if you can't have a unique name... all the hard work you've put into the site is wasted if: 1.) you decide to leave the service -- because you can't take '' with you... they own it. 2.) the service no longer exists.

I used to work for Myartspace. They had a similar offering... and like FAA 'websites', the user was stuck with '' in the link. Myartspace pulled the plug with little warning... leaving over 40,000 active artists with nothing. They could not transfer the name because it included

A unique domain name is your 'bread and butter' as far as the Internet is concerned -- it is a crucial part of your overall brand as far as marketing art online. It is something you can take with you IF you decide to stop using a website service.

I would suggest using a website service that offers you the option of establishing your own domain name while using the service. Anything less is a glorified profile page in my opinion.

If the service does not offer that option in any of its plans... you really need to ask the service why. Chances are they won't reply to your question... because the answer is clear: 1.)they want you 'stuck' with their domain name so that you are less apt to leave their service (again, you can't transfer the domain name because they own it). 2.) they want you to boost traffic to their domain by spreading your link.

Brian Sherwin
Lori -- I look forward to your research. I can be a tad cynical, as you know.

As for FAA... they offer an affiliate / referral program. My understanding is that if you sign up from a friends page (click on the ad)... they earn $5. My point: I have seen a lot of artists praise FAA and their sister site, ArtistWebsites -- and I wonder just how many of those artists want the $5 each time someone signs up based on their referral.

FFA / ArtistWebsites is basically paying for praise... knowing that some artists really, really, really want $5 here and there. ;p

As noted... I tend to be cynical -- and look past hype. It is hard to tell if a positive review of their service is legitimate due to that program... it could just be someone wanting $5. ;p

Lori Woodward
Here's a link to today' fine art America newsletter. As you can see from this page, several art marketers blogs are printed on FAAs page. If this company was found to be unethical, it would not get such support. Brian, although there are scammers and crooks, it doesn't mean everyone is. Artists need to investigate POD companies just as they would a prospective gallery. I've been cheated by a couple fo galleries, but I've worked with some stellar ones as well.

Remember, this post is about giclees, not POD services. In any case, I'd lie to commend and recommend companies that provide a great service for artists. There will always be crooks out there in every industry, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

There was a time when Barney steered artists away from PODs.. It wasn't that long ago. But something changed his mind. That's what got me interested in asking artists who were using it what they thought. I don't deal in theories. I likento interview artists to find out what works, and then share that with other artists. What works today may not 2 years from now. What didn't work 2 years ago is working now.

I remember saying I had no use for Twitter. Then I used it. I remember saying I had no use for Facebook. Now I get the most hits to my website from Facebook posts, and hardly any from Twitter. When something stops working, I move on.

Marketing is a rapidly changing organism.

Barney Davey
Hi Lori, I agree with you about not throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I am one of those bloggers syndicated on the FAA site. I am not a FAA affiliate, but do vouch for their service. I uploaded a portrait of my father that I scanned at the highest level I could. Then ordered a copy on canvas framed. It came out beautiful.

I previously equated a POD service such a FAA to posters because there is a file size upload limit of I think 20MB. While that will get you very nice reproduction, it won't come close to the same image capture you get on a BetterLight or Cruse scanner that can take 20 minutes or more to scan. Read this article to see why a scanning back is better than a high res DSLR., then decide for yourself. You cannot get the same amount of digital information in a flash as you do in a slow line-by-line scan.

FAA only has one upcharge. It is only $30 per year for premium. Go here to see what you get: It does give you a website that is not on a domain you own, but you can buy your own and forward to it. Better yet, with the premium membership, you can embed your FAA store into your own website and have your own complete fulfillment e-store on your site or blog, which means your visitors never leave your site. You also get 5 percent on frames, etc. That could be higher, but it would have to come at charging artists more to use its services, which include free email marketing. You can upload your own list, of any size, and send to it to promote your work listed on FAA. Email marketing services will charge at least $10 per month.

If an artist wants the highest quality and to charge premium prices, services such as FAA are not the solution. An established digital fine art printer, such as in Atlanta celebrating its 10th anniversary is the only way to go. FAA is for open editions, just like Buyers who use these kinds of sites are not the sames as those who seek out tony limited editions. I say established because even the biggest can leave the business. For instance, Harvest Productions, a pioneer and industry leader in giclee printing no longer prints for artists. They are in the photo fulfillment business now. Its clientele over the years was a Who's Who of top limited edition print artists and publishers.

It's a big world and there are unlimited ways to make your art, reproduce your art and market your art. The most important thing that I talk about in the early part of both my paperback books is setting proper goals. Know what you want to do, understand the implications of your choices, and plan and execute efficiently around them. Refuse to be distracted by noise makers, naysayers and energy vampires. Tune these people out of your life. When you make smart choices and believe and act on them, you will have success no matter how you maneuver your work to market.

"A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week." - George S. Patton

I said it before. You cannot do it all at once. Pick something and work on it to make it successful and keep working it until it stops giving you a decent Return on Investment.

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” - Johann Wolfgang Goethe

This is my last post on this thread because I have other stuff to do. I wish everyone reading it best wishes for success in the career choices they make.

Brian Sherwin
Lori -- You said, "Here's a link to today' fine art America newsletter. As you can see from this page, several art marketers blogs are printed on FAAs page. If this company was found to be unethical, it would not get such support."

FAA clearly does not have my support... and I've worked in this industry -- online artist services -- for 8 years. There is a reason they don't have my support.

The Reason: FAA / ArtistWebsites 'fudges' info on their comparison page when comparing what they offer to other online art services -- by conveniently leaving info about other companies unchecked OR listing the most expensive 'rival' plans while focusing on details of basic plans.
I'm sorry, but I find that unethical. It is deceptive.

I don't have a high opinion of FAA as a company because of said 'fudging'. It forces me to question their overall integrity / credibility as a company. It also forces me to question the integrity / credibility of their partners.

My low opinion of FAA / ArtistWebsites -- as both a professional and consumer -- is 10 fold considering that I know of companies that have kindly asked them to correct the comparison page -- and those requests went unanswered. That is my opinion as someone very familiar with this industry AND as a consumer -- and I've held that opinion since my days at Myartspace (they targeted MAS years ago... even went as far as to claim that all MAS accounts had a fee -- which was totally bogus info. They only 'attacked' MAS after MAS decided to offer a Premium membership... but all basic accounts were free).

Oddly enough, FFA / ArtistWebsites doesn't offer comparisons of POD services that have been in this game for a LONG time. For example, you won't see them offering a comparison -- at least on the page I've observed -- of deviantART. You won't see them offering a comparison to RedBubble. Why? If the goal is to offer a legitimate comparison page... why not offer a comparison of POD industry leaders? I think I know why.

Instead they focus on a lot of services that don't have a POD option in the first place, fledgling start-ups, and so on... all while leaving a lot of crucial comparisons unchecked even though the 'rival' company does in fact have the feature that FAA / ArtistWebsites claims they don't have. It is unethical in my opinion.

My opinion of them would change if they would show a tad more class when comparing themselves to other services. Offering comparisons based on solid fact would be a good start. Yet they have failed to do that year after year.

Barney -- "Refuse to be distracted by noise makers, naysayers and energy vampires. Tune these people out of your life.".

Which one am I, pal?

Anyway, you can both have fun pitching their wares. If they truly offer a quality product... great. It is just too bad they fail to focus on that... and instead delve into taking cheap / misleading shots at companies they view as rivals.

Respect is earned. I don't respect them. Period.

Thanks for the debate.

Ric Nagualero
Hi Lori

I have no way of surely knowing where people are coming from to my prints. I did notice that after you tube gave me the opportunity to place a link on my videos to my website things really changed for me on FAA. That and placing links on Facebook. Before that it was ZERO sales for a long time ( 2 years or so ). I also can see via google analytics that you tube brings a lot if not most of the traffic to my website and prints page. Hope that helps :)


Yes you're right it's a glorified profile page for my prints but it's easier to keep people that get there, from clicking on another artists image. I did not put any real work on it, just added a banner and that's it. I agree that Promoting that page as promoting my Facebook page serves both companies well but I can accept that to some extent.

About "A unique domain name is your 'bread and butter' as far as the Internet is concerned -- it is a crucial part of your overall brand as far as marketing art online. "

I totally agree and I do have my own domain and website, for many years now, There I have a page on my site called PRINTS that links ( redirects ) to this " artists websites from FAA. It fits my desire to offer inexpensive prints to folks. I also run small limited edition runs from time to time but I do that myself with a local printer.

"I wonder just how many of those artists want the $5 each time someone signs up based on their referral. "
Just In case i am being paranoid thinking that your comment was referring to me, I have no affiliation with FAA apart from using their services ;-) so no 5$ for me lol

I am not saying FAA Is great... I did not sell a thing for a loooong time. I have two other artists friends here in Sweden that have yet to sell a print through them. I just wanted to point out that with the right marketing or some ability to get people to see your prints, it is possible to make print sales and if so why not try?


Brian Sherwin
Ric -- No worries. I was not referring to anyone directly. My problem with the whole $ referral program deal is that the quality should really stand for itself.

It just seems 'icky' to me when a company pays customers to 'land' other customers. The product itself should be enough for people to take notice -- and want to spread news about it. That said, I realize that programs like that are not uncommon today.

It bothers me because you don't know if the person REALLY likes the service... OR if they are just really good at cashing in on others. Ha, ha. I mean, if someone is pulling in cash based on referrals each month... I can see how they might end up promoting the service (no matter what they personally think about the service itself) based on that income stream alone.

Brian Sherwin
As for giclee prints -- developing your own at home, shipping them yourself, etc... I think one way to approach that is to combine resources with other local artists to get that little print biz off the ground. Establishing a non-profit art space (including printing equipment, studio space, etc.) might be one way to go about that.

Apparently there is an artist collective in Springfield, Illinois that is working toward that goal. Local artists will be able to utilize the equipment as part of a residency program. I assume that artists may be able to donate a sum in order to use the equipment as well -- the money going back into the program and upkeep. I'm not 100 percent sure on the details though... but if I learn more I will share it.

Obviously something like this can be done without a non-profit space involved. Part of me thinks that local artists -- specifically those in smaller communities -- should do more to help each other / cut costs. That is the idealist in me, I suppose. Ha.

Ric Nagualero
Brian ,what you just said "It bothers me because you don't know if the person REALLY likes the service... OR if they are just really good at cashing in on others." Is a very good point indeed. Such $ offerings Do corrupt or at least plant doubt in the integrity of any referral of any business in my opinion as well. ;-)

Durwood Coffey
What is the p[rice range for a good lg format printer and what is a good small printer price?

Brian Sherwin
Durwood -- I'm with you on that question. It would be GREAT to find out more info on actually getting started -- price-wise -- with offering your own prints. What kind of price are we actually looking at today? Any suggestions?

jack white

It depends on the artist to what prints sell for. A member of CA whose originals sell for $30k and up can get more than Molly Paintbrush who has trouble selling originals for $400.

Also paper or canvas makes a difference. Hand embellished adds to the cost, stretched or rolled. So many factors go into giclee print prices. There is no one answer.

If artists do their own prints then they need to make sure and use inks with 250 year life span or longer. So many inks fade in a few years.

You can get a 24" Epson, Cannon or some other brands for around $2500. Then you have inks and canvas. 13x19 for under a $1,000. Before they buy a printer make sure they have a place to sell the prints. Just because you can print cheap doesn't mean sales.

There are online companies that print on canvas or paper very cheap, but those may not last three years under normal lighting. As Barry said, good giclees cost. We pay a lot but we know our gicless will stand up for years and not fade.

I've been doing prints of one kind or another since 1985. So many artist can't sell their originals so they think prints are the answer. The image is the key. You have to make art that connects with buyers.


Marsha McDonald
Wow, Lori! You've created quite a storm here. But it's a good one!

Obviously, many artists are interested in selling prints? I think there are nineteen new posts since I was on here this morning.
They are all thought provoking. Now my main problem is not to get discouraged while sifting through all this information.

Brian, you think you are a "tad cynical?" Well, I do understand where you are coming from. I had a very bad experience with FAA years ago. Since then, I probably haven't gone back to that site but one time - and that was the last day or two, since Lori's post.

But constantly buying inks, making prints, packaging, sending them out - along with everything else I do - is a task I hate. Not to mention - in an earlier post I talked about the distribution problems I ran into when trying to sell them in stores. That's the reason I'm considering my options.

After reading all these posts, I see there is a lot to think about.

Brian Sherwin
Jack -- Yeah, I was thinking in terms of how much to actually get started based on equipment expense. That info is helpful. Also, based on the artists situation... that expense may be tax deductible. :)

Everyone -- Note: I believe I said earlier that deviantART's Premium service (including their upgraded POD service) was around $30 a month... I meant to say around $30 a year. A 'deviant' on Facebook told me it is $29.95 a year. He uses both DA and FAA.

There is also a site called ArtWanted... but I'm not 100 percent sure if they still have a print service or not. They may have moved more toward selling original art. I've not checked them out in a long time.

That is what I get for typing with a MAJOR toothache. This isn't fun, folks. Ha.

Brian Sherwin
Jack -- You said, " So many artist can't sell their originals so they think prints are the answer. The image is the key. You have to make art that connects with buyers.".

Excellent point. I'll add that a lot of artists 'kill' their business with pricing structure. I see artists starting out with $5,000 price tags for original paintings. Sure, some of them may see that work sold. BUT I think they are exceptions. Most of them will still be sitting around with the same $5,000 paintings 5 years later. Most people are not going to fork over $5,000 for a painting by an 'unknown' artist -- no matter the quality of the painting. It is what it is.

Durwood Coffey
All Right!!!!, It has always been about the image! The Image is king! Everything is secondary.


Brian Sherwin
Marsha -- I'm more than a 'tad cynical'... I can be a cantankerous bastard at times. I mean well though. :)

The time issue is def' one to think about it. All of the various online art services 'out there' thrive on that... the fact that many artists want to save time. They can make things easier.

BUT when you consider the average adult spends 4 hours a day watching TV... well, it can also be an issue of spending time more wisely. Note: I'm not suggesting that you don't use your time wisely... just stressing that ALL of us can do a few things to use our time better.

I made a choice at the age of 18 to never pay for cable. It was one of the best decisions of my life... because if I had shows on -- I'd likely end up glued to the TV. I actually started writing in order to fill voids of time. Ha.

If I want to watch something I visit friends or family -- make it a social event. OR I simply watch it on DVD. I limit my TV watching as much as I can.

I'm really straying off topic now.. but... yeah. :)

Lori Woodward
Brian I forgot the link... Every artist I've spoken to that uses FAA to sell prints and cards, has their own separate website (not with FAA) and they have their own URL.

I dint realize that artists use FAS as their primary website, so I wasn't even considering that concept. I'm thinking of it as an additional site and I can list my own website from my page on FAA.

As I said earlier, I think artists need their own domain as there home base. Everything else, including FAA amd social media sites are just satellite places that link back to home base ( your own URL).

Lori Woodward
Their home base... I'm too tired to Be speaking... Will check in during weekdays.

Brian Sherwin
Jack, Durwood -- It is a double-edged sword though. I'm sure we have ALL seen horrific art (quality-wise) that has done extremely well -- either as original pieces or prints. I suppose that all boils down to personal taste.

Consider Kinkade. I don't even have to mention his whole name and you know who I'm talking about. He is as famous in death as he was in life. Millions of people admire his images -- like it or not, he is one of the most financially successful artist EVER. BUT it is just as easy to say that millions of viewers loathe his images. You won't find his work on every wall. Some view his work as great... while others view it as tacky.

If I had to choose between a Jack White print and a Thomas Kinkade print... I would take the Jack White print any day of the week. I don't care for Kinkade's imagery... but Jack's images have something that I can relate to from my youth. I'm sure someone would disagree with my choice. My point: You can't 'reach' every viewer.

Brian Sherwin
Lori -- Regarding FAA / ArtistWebsites, my whole point is that I don't respect them as a company because of the way they compare themselves -- unethically in my opinion -- to other companies by presenting conveniently 'fudged' data about companies they clearly view as 'rivals' -- while at the same time avoiding a self-comparison to services that are actually more in line with what they offer. It is dubious at best.

The way I see it... the questionable data chips away at their integrity as a company. Integrity, at least to me, is everything. It is not honest behavior -- and spurs doubt. Period. It leaves them open to criticism.

Note: I'm not saying 'don't use them'... I just know that I won't be using their service -- or purchasing prints associated with their service -- based on principle. I'll leave it at that. :)

Marsha McDonald
LOL!!! Brian, I honestly am not guilty of watching too much television. Hate the majority of shows on there. And I've never had cable. (:

You ARE right, though, about using our time better! I guess that's why I'm struggling with this print thing. Do I even want to mess with it - there is so much to consider? I just want to get up in the morning and go to the easel and paint!! It seems the computer takes up way too much of MY time. I am not a fan of FB, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. but I try to make myself get on there, because everyone says it helps them?? By the time I do this, and read and answer emails, most of the morning is gone. I honestly don't know how some artists get as much done as they do - I am envious! (:

Brian Sherwin
Marsha -- Connect your Facebook page to your Twitter account if you have not yet done so. That way you can kill two birds with one stone... schedule the Facebook posts -- and they will also post on Twitter. I believe you can also connect Google in the same way... not 100 percent sure on that though.

It can be extremely time consuming promoting art on Facebook and other sites. I spend 4 to 5 hours, easily, most days promoting FASO artists and FineArtViews authors.

With posting articles, replying to blog and social networking comments, taking part in the forum, writing articles and just other 'ins and outs', I often spend upwards of 12 hours each day online. I try to divide that time up... 3 hours here, 3 hours there, and so on. I love every second of it. BUT I would not advise a working artist to do the same.

Lori Woodward
Ha.. Marsha, I know exactly what you mean. I'm really tired, but I got my keyboard out so I don't make so many typos.

Anyway, I've been struggling with feeling overwhelmed by all I need to do with social media and where to spend my time. I recently wrote a blog on return on investment - for not only my money spent, but also my time. After all, I am an artist and creating my artwork takes a great deal of time.

Here's a link to a post where I poured out my heart online when I was feeling overwhelmed and wanting to simplify my life. The internet is a source for new opportunities, but also can make us feel like we can't handle everything we need to do.. but in truth, many artists make a great deal of income (over $50K) without engaging in social media. It's not an absolute necessity, but it can help in some instances to get our images out there to a larger crowd.

Here's a link to one of my posts. it's long, but a lot of artists contacted me (both men and women) saying they identified with my thoughts and feelings.

Brian, have I told you - I'm uncomfortable with conflict? But my husband assures me that men enjoy a bit of that and that it's completely normal. I'm getting used to it ;-)

Marsha McDonald

I'm not surprised at the time you spend on the computer. What takes you thirty minutes to do - would probably take me three times longer. I am SO not a computer person. That's one reason why I have a website with FASO - the tech help is so great! They will TALK with you and are actually not in a hurry to get off the phone. (:

Durwood Coffey
Now we talking my area. I am one of those artist with $5,000 paintings. I've been fortunate to sell some of my pieces and I may say, that they are hanging in some nice places. When I finish a painting, I put the price on that I feel right with me! I also realize that it may not sell and I'll die with it, which I'm fine with this also. I could never grasp the idea, that I sell something at a low price and "than" if the art is selling I can raise my price. I can see how collectors could get mad at you, saying what's with the prices, "I just brought a piece last year from you for $$$, and now your asking $$$$$$, and I say . . . well this year "I'm famous"! LOL. So I started out with the price I feel it's worth.
Also, gallery's taking 50 percent:(not complaining about this), But I'm not painting and putting a price of $2,500 on it and end up with $1,250. To much work for to little dollars. We all have to do what we feel is right for each of us. There is no right or wrong. When an artist is successful, we may think that they are smarter. Truth of it all in the arts, is they are lucky! No one can tell you how to be successful, they can only say how they got (lucky) to be successful. If someone is successful, it's smart to at least listen to what they have to say, after all we are all trying to get to the same spot were they are at! The only thing we has artist can control, is the Quality.

Brian Sherwin
Lori -- Ha, ha. Most guys wish they could be Conan the Barbarian. Just saying. :)

Marsha -- I have it down to science. Ha. I have to pinch myself at times to remind myself that I'm not a computer... or a busy bee... or an angry hornet. ;p

Once you have a routine established it is a lot easier. I have several... and I will pick and choose as needed. I also type quickly (thanks to a typewriting class in high school) -- which is a plus.

As Lori made clear... some of the most successful artists are rarely, if ever, online. I DO think it is important to have a presence online... but no -- don't burden yourself with spending hours on end posting like I do.

Keep your website updated... share info 'here and there' throughout the week -- utilize your newsletter if you are not already doing so... once a week OR once a month will likely suffice. Plus your subscribers may end up doing some of the online work for you... in the sense that they may share what you have shared. BUT don't do all of that stuff if it takes away from the overall joy of being an artist.

Lori, Barney, myself, and others all have ideas on how to market artwork -- or simply spur recognition for artwork. BUT at the end of the day you have to decide what works best for you. Only you can make that choice.

Donald Fox
There are a lot of good comments here for those interested in pursuing print reproductions. Just remember that they are reproductions and not original prints as would be created by a master printmaker in whatever traditional printmaking medium. Some do use the term print as a catch-all when it shouldn't be so loosely applied to reproductions. This is not to say that there can't be good quality reproductions that may create passive income, but isn't the artist really selling an expensive autograph?

Great article and I entirely agree! We are always looking for a simpler way to educate our small art business customers on ways to maximize their personal efforts and this is a great way to introduce an -easy to-do list” for them!

Great article,
Im always looking for more ways to try and make money with art and ive personally found POD stuff (print on demand) to be quite good. Sites like fine art america are pretty good and worth checking out.

beautiful canvas prints

Carol Surface
I appreciate all the great info, folks. Does anyone know how an artist can make money on repros that they sell to big stores like Z Gallerie? It costs around $25 to make a small giclee on canvas and the store sells them for barely twice that. What am I missing here? Are the artists getting them made overseas or perhaps they have their own equipment to produce volumes.
Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge.

Durwood Coffey
Carol, your not missing anything. Nature of the business, so much printing can be done very cheap outside this country by bigger companies than us, which makes it hard to compete at first glance. I know this doesn't help, but there is only one of "US" and if they want Our art, than it cost more, since it cost me more to produce it. Nature of the business. Keep producing quality art and it will pay-off.

Lori Woodward
Carol, many times artists license images of their work to companies, who then print and sell them. The artist either gets an advance payment and/or royalties. Maria Brophy's is the person online for licensing info.

jack white
Carol Surface

Most of the prints you see in stores are mass produced. I once printed 87,000 5x7 litho prints I sold to gift shops and stores like Hallmark. I also owned a store in the World Trade Center where they come to buy inventory.

Small world. I purchased thousands of 8x10 oak frames from the Greens. They made them in their garage. You know them as Hobby Lobby.

You are competing today with stuff printed in China for less than your printer can buy the canvas. Of course the ink that China uses won't last, but you can buy prints very cheap.

Those companies selling the big box stores buy thousands of one image.

Getting your image used by a big print company is like winning the lottery. The place to start is to speak with the buyer of prints in the company you want to sell to. They will give you a quick education.

To sell the big chains you would have to become a vendor with them. It's pretty complicated.

I've been down this highway many years ago. It's very complicated.

Barney Davey
Most of the images you see in shops like Z Gallerie are not giclees. As you indicate, they are too expensive to make for the mass market. They may be on paper under glass or poly. Or, they maybe a canvas transfer, which gives the look of a canvas print, but is much less expensive to create. You will not find self-represented individual artists in mass market stores. The store buyers deal with publishers and volume print/frame distributors. If you want in this market, seek a relationship with a credible publisher. A publisher can, and likely will, represent your work to the licensing market for notecards, linens and too many other items to list. Working with a publisher is not a way to get rich, or even making a living for most artists. But, it can raise awareness for your higher priced work and become a source of steady income. The business is trendy to a great degree so keeping up with current colors and subject matter is helpful in most cases. Having a very unique and new commercially viable look is another way to break into this market. I think having a print line offers artists more price points and more ways to make money. It does take time to study the market and dial what you are going to do in so you waste as little time and money as possible while still setting up to make it as profitable as possible. Sounds a lot like making the most of marketing original work, too.

jack white

I should have suggested she speak with you. You wrote the book on prints. (smile)


Carol Surface
Thanks so much for your helpful comments, folks. I've ordered your book, Barney! It doesn't sound very lucrative, Jack. My sister sells her photographs to Sundance and they have sold many but she gets a pittance. Does anyone know if there are any fine art publishers out there who create quality repros of fine art and pay the artist a better fee? Thanks again, all!

Barney Davey
Thanks for ordering my book, Carol. I trust you will find it useful.Publishers all pay about the same 8-12 percent of net wholesale. They have price cuts pushed down on them and don't have the margins to be more generous. The only way you make it with a publisher is have wildly successful images. That's a tall order in the way prints are sold these days.

Sam Carlson
As far as Selling prints of your work, there is etsy, cafepress, zazzle, and deviantart. Etsy for me is too much of a hassle b/c I need to actually handle the shipping and printing and everything.

Also, you want to get all of your social media networks on par with one another, make it easy for people to be connected with you. on my homepage you can see that I have links to all of my different outlets (twitter, facebook, instagram ebay etc.)

Personally I use as a printer and shipper of my work. they give you a whole gallery option and pricing plans. They have their bare minimum prices, and you keep anything over that amount. Say it costs them $2.30 to print out and ship an 8Ã?10 print. if you price it for $12, you get 10 bucks.

Here is an example of my smugmug gallery.

Hope this helps, and keep up the hard work! If you DO decide to use them, sign up with this link and it will save you 20 percent

Keep up the hard work everyone!

Nancy Beardsley
Wow, just ran across this and love the wealth of information provided by everyone. I have some decisions to make and all of this helped. Thank you all!

Lori Woodward
Thanks Nancy! It's wonderful when a blog becomes a forum where artists contribute their experience to the rest of us.

Steve Langer
Interesting info here. Thanks, Lori, for having this discussion. I've been producing my own "giclee" prints for the past year after framing my mother's art that was left after her death. It appeared I had a demand for her art and did not want to part with the originals yet. I decided to jump in and purchase the equipment and make her art available. I have them for sale in several places, mostly matted and placed in clear bags. Recently, I have started making some prints of someone's original watercolors. A little income to recoup the equipment costs is nice plus I enjoy the hobby.

David Weaver
Not only do I use print on demand services for my own art, I have made a living manufacturing canvas stretching machines that service this industry. Print-on-demand is not going away anytime soon...I hope.

You might want to change the content of this story to say: "Epson" printer rather than "EPSOM" printer. Epsom to my knowledge is connected with epsom salts for inflamation.

This was really helpful.
I've been torn between getting my work out through giclee only because of mixed feelings towards the art of printing and reproduction.
I have yet to build a following only because I'm extremely modest and insecure. My fiancée is pushing it only because I'm approached often enough by people to at least do something with it.
That being said, the question I have is...
Without a current gallery/collector following does anyone have experience or insight on starting a following with prints using social media and networking.
I believe in the art of printmaking. Tough. Silk screen and etching especially so I find myself hesitant to produce giclee prints. However, it can be the bread and butter for so many working artists.
Any advice is appreciated.

Cloe Martin
Great Article Lori! Its very true that selling Giclee prints is creating a hovoc nowadays but the advantages we get from Giclee prints out number its limitations. I would still go for Giclee print inspite of being expensive. Thanks for sharing this post.

Mark Louis
Great Article Lori! Its very true that selling Giclee prints is creating a hovoc nowadays but the advantages we get from Giclee prints out number its limitations. I would still go for Giclee print despite of it being expensive. Thanks for sharing this informative post.


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