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Re: Art Prints (long response)

Eric wrote:

<<To date, most of my art is drawn on 14X17 Bristol board.  I would like to 
print to this size, but the closest printer for a reasonable price seems to 
be the Epson 3000 with 13X19 printing.  I do not have color involved in my 
art, but the blended pencil has proven hard to reproduce without color 
capability.  My art is mostly portraits and historical military art (I am in 
the SCA and do alot of portraits of fighters in armor - alot of commissions 
doing this).  I was only interested in prints, but have some experience 
designing cards.  

I have not thought much on the marketing.  Several people have mentioned 
frame shops and mall galleries as a way to distribute.  How did you go about 
approaching these places and what kind of prices do you get?>>


Eric, I'm sure you know that the Epson 3000 will take 17" x 22" paper. But 
for some reason Epson continues to have incorrect info on the print-image 
size for the Epson 3000 on their web page (assuming that's where you got the 
info). The 3000 will print an image size of approx. 16.25" x 20.75", so it 
would work great for your image sizes!

>From the above, it sounds to me like your artwork might be a good candidate 
for a quad-tone inkset. This is an inkset in black and three shades of gray. 
Some list members are achieving great things with this approach. However, Dan 
Culbertson (a fellow list member) has developed a method of printing 
CMYK/quad-tone images with the standard Epson driver. If this is of interest 
to you, post your query to the group, and those with experience in quad-tone 
can help you more than I. My work features landscapes in color.

Historical military art is perhaps your target niche market, since you say 
you've gotten a lot of commissions doing this. If doing more of this kind of 
work interests you, then consider how to best reach larger numbers of those 
interested in this kind of artwork -- both for the reproductions, and 
possible commissions. Are there any magazines, organizations, or conferences 
that cater to this target group? It seems I've also seen catalogs featuring a 
multitude of military-associated decorative and functional items. Perhaps an 
ad, contacting such a magazine about doing their cover, an appearance and/or 
lecture at one of these group's meetings, a booth offering your work for sale 
at an annual conference, etc. Whenever art is of a specialized subject as the 
above is, that means the market is narrower, but in some ways that makes the 
marketing easier -- because you know exactly whom you're aiming your 
promotions at -- a little 'niche.' Also, because the art is a specialized 
subject matter, there may be less 'competition' from other artists, which can 
be nice. I sometimes feel that many artist's works get lost in the sea of art 
that's out for people to pick from now there. Specialization helps an artist 
stand out. 

But that specialization will mean that many framers may not feel they have 
customers interested in military art subjects. So trying to devote 
significant sales efforts to frame shops and mall stores may not pay off. 
Those who purchase will want the prints at wholesale too (50% of retail). You 
may want to consider how you could best reach your potential retail customers.

But if military art is not of Significant Interest, then re-think this, as 
you don't want to build yourself into a narrow market where the subject 
matter soon starts to feel limiting and unfulfilling to you. For an artist, 
feeling enlivened by creativity is the most important thing you can do for 
yourself, for your relationships, and for your art.

My limited-edition and open-edition lithographic reproductions of my work 
began 14 years ago, from paintings I did of the Tulsa, Oklahoma city skyline 
and city park scenes. Initially I aimed my marketing efforts toward the 
specialized market of Tulsans and those who had lived there. I created quite 
a local following and clientele. But because the park scenes were nice 
landscapes in their own right, they began to attract a larger market, then 
attracted the attention of a publisher and are now licensed for reproduction 
by Portal Publications (an international art publisher and distributor). 

So while digital self-publishing is an option, you might also consider 
looking for art publishers who produce historic/military art reproductions. 
They may be interested in licensing your work for reproduction and 
distribution (and paying you a royalty). You can still reproduce other art in 
small quantity, for your own sales. The nice thing about the use of the Epson 
3000 (with archival inks and media) is that you can produce a small edition 
of signed & numbered prints, which if you have the market for them, can be a 
nice financial benefit without great effort or overhead.

You asked about my prices. The average retail on my signed & numbered 
limited-edition is usually $95 retail (edition of 1000), and on open-edition 
is $35 (approx. 16" x 20" image sizes). Remember though that the bulk of my 
sales are wholesale. I still service about 60 frame shop accounts.

Having reproductions of your own artwork can be tremendously exciting. It can 
even be kinda addictive, especially when the public responds well. For 
myself, I am beginning to lessen my publishing and marketing efforts. It has 
taken increasing time away from the creative process, and health scares 
recently have awakened me to other things I'd rather have my life filled with 
-- primarily more time for joyous creating. So I am now focusing on the 
creation of original art that I then seek to license to other publishers to 
reproduce and market.

The digital worlds and the art worlds combine to create many possibilities 
for you. I hope you enjoy many rewards from your exploration of both!

Ken Johnston  /  Heartworks, Inc. /  Dallas, TX  USA  /  972-271-1313
If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.  -Isaac 

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