Many common questions and challenges about artists and the world of visual art:
What is the difference between an artist proof and limited edition print?
- Artist proofs have taken on slightly varied meanings over the history of mankind and can depend on the type of printing being used. During the 18th century, artists began using new materials like metal copper plates for etching. The plates would be pressed into the paper to make the prints and once the edition was ran, the plate would be scored or destroyed in one way or another as "proof" that the series was complete. In the later 20th century, publishing houses would supply the artists with a smaller series of prints along with the regular signed limited-editions. To further enhance the prints, the artists would perform highlights and then sign and number the prints as a smaller, more desirable edition.
Why do artists make prints?
- So that we don't have to sell the original to get paid for our work
- To market test the popularity of an image
- To make the image affordable to most consumers
- To keep up with competition
- Leave a legacy for our family
Why are some paintings and prints more expensive than others?
There are several reasons many artists use to price artwork or why they charge specific prices on estimates. Obviously, the cost of production is taken into consideration, though this is just to start with...
- The time it takes to produce an original is taken into account but some artists may put a cap on the price of the painting for a new release.
- Size of the artwork is also a factor. Usually the bigger it is, the more costly and more expensive
- The medium also plays a role in pricing originals. Oil paintings are the most expensive to produce because of the cost of paint, drying time and canvas as where acrylics dry much quicker and watercolor paintings dry extremely fast due to the consistency of the paint. Dry mediums like chalk pastel and charcoal pencil have no drying time at all.
Detail can have an impact on the time it takes to create an image, too. With mediums like pencil, pen & ink; long hours spent doing tedious detail can cramp the hands.
Paper or canvas is a factor to take into account when pricing limited edition prints or originals. Generally, canvas is more expensive than paper.
Quality of materials: High quality professional grade paints last longer, have more vibrant color and are even easier to work with.
Picture framing is always taken into consideration. Presentation is the key when it comes to displaying artwork for sale.
Popularity of course is always a factor for paintings and prints. Often, the artist may already know from past experience how well the image will do with her/his market. Some artists may even do a market test with poster prints or internet marketing. And, don't forget the popularity of the artist, too. You may find a world-renowned artist on social media with only a few hundred followers. That said, "social proof" is not always a factor.
Past sales... This is where it gets tricky. If an artist does a commission for x amount, say $3,500 and claims it in their taxes then by rights, their other work in a sense can be valued at that price.
- Last but certainly not least is gallery representation. Often when artists get their work in a gallery, their prices increase - especially if the gallery has a notable reputation.
Note: I believe I can speak for a majority of artists when I say "don't let the price scare you". Most artists you'll find are easy going and are willing to offer some kind of a discount. That said, be patient when approaching them. Often times, artists may not want to sell their painting at a lowered price until they've thought about it for a time.
Why do artists use texture?
Texture is often used to create depth in artwork. The closer an object is to the foreground, the more texture it has. The further away an object is, the fuzzier it gets. And when using paints, it is fun to make things bumpy ;-)
Why do artists paint / create art?
- Inspire others
- Capture an emotion or experience
- Remind us of our youth
- Challenge ourselves
- Motivate others
- Feel good about ourselves
- Make a living doing something we love
- Engage with other people
Why do artists use sketchbooks?
A sketchbook is like a journal of ideas, where one leads into the next. An artist may draw dozens of sketches before settling on one that she/he decides to make into a masterpiece.
Why do artists draw / paint nudes?
For the figurative artist like myself, the nude body is the most challenging. In art school, we sit through life drawing classes where we practice drawing clothed and unclothed models along with studies in human anatomy. The book we study even to this day is called "human anatomy for the artist". Through this process, we "train the eye", so to speak. Human form can be difficult to grasp without the proper guidance as well as faces and hands.
As for myself, when I began painting watercolors, I practiced painting nudes because I was young and teaching myself (plus, it was far more interesting to paint human shapes then bowls of fruit). It was later, when I was comfortable enough that I would paint clothes over the figures to add even more realism to the painting.
With the age of the camera and computer, many artists skip these crucial steps and have to re-learn how they approach their work. And even after drawing people for over 30 years, I still learn something with every new artwork I produce.