Paul Dorrell, owner of Leopold Gallery, has clients that include Warner Bros., H&R Block, the Mayo Clinic, the Kansas City Chiefs, and more than 1,000 private collectors. He’s a public speaker and the author of the guidebook for artists, Living the Artist’s Life, Updated & Revised. Recently, he contributed to The Artist’s Magazine’s “Ask the Experts” column; below is a Q&A with Paul about selling giclées.
Q. Can reproducing and selling my work as giclée prints affect the way galleries and serious collectors regard me as an artist?
A. For painters, reproducing their best works as giclée prints can be a career-enhancing move–if you go about it the right way. Leopold Gallery, which I founded in 1991, has done this for years, always with positive results. That’s partly because my associates and I have identified our goals and then hit them. We’ve never made a significant profit from giclées; the main reason we’ve worked with them was to make our painters better known to a wider audience, thereby selling more of their originals. Thus far this strategy has worked, bearing a positive impact on the career of each participating artist.
If you want to give giclées a try, I recommend that you start with the strongest possible group of paintings and have them photographed for reproduction by a studio that specializes in that type of work. You want the reproduction so clear that you can see the texture in each print.
Once you have your photos, choose a printer who specializes in the giclée process and can advise you on paper quality, image size, and so forth. Start by ordering just a few prints of each image, signing and numbering them in an appropriate edition size. In the beginning, you might want to keep the edition size relatively small, meaning 50–100. A smaller number of prints lends a greater air of exclusivity to each piece and reassures your collectors that they’re getting a special work of art. You also, in the beginning, should keep your prices relatively moderate, since the goal is to sell out the entire edition, which is most easily done with moderate pricing. Later, if things go well, you can increase prices.
Two of my landscape painters, Kim Casebeer and Allan Chow, began producing giclées of select paintings a few years ago. They’ve offered them for sale on their websites, as we have in the gallery. In fact when we work with businesses and hospitals, we often install prints by one or both of these artists, as well as their originals. The two artists now have framed giclées in numerous collections, which has helped spread their renown, increased demand for their paintings, and allowed the prices of their paintings to rise.
Had we not undertaken a methodical process, placing Casebeer’s and Chow’s giclées in several corporate and institutional collections, our efforts wouldn’t have had this impact. You can experience a similar success if you place your prints where a wide variety of people will see them. Very few serious collectors will criticize you for undertaking this endeavor, or even care. After all, what was it that really made Maxfield Parrish’s work available to a wide audience, driving up the prices of his originals as a consequence? His reproductions, of course, though that would have meant nothing if his originals hadn’t been so striking.
Reproductions aren’t for everyone, but if you feel you can carve out a niche, go right ahead and try. I advise you to work gradually though, investing as little as possible, printing only what you need. The ability to do so is one of the advantages of the giclée process. It’s better to test the market this way than to invest heavily in dozens of prints and find out that, no matter how stunning your giclées might be, you simply can’t sell them. This happens more often than not; you don’t want to be one of the people it happens to.~Paul Dorrell
Find more Q&As in The Artist’s Magazine’s 2013 Annual CD, which is newly available. This searchable CD includes the complete 10 issues from this year; zoom in on the paintings or do a search for your favorite medium–it’s enhanced with these features just for you. Regarding giclées, what has your experience been? Have you bought them yourself, or do you sell your own giclée prints? Use the comments section below to share your thoughts!
To hear and view free recordings and PowerPoint presentations of Paul Dorrell’s webinars on the business of art, go to www.artistsnetwork.com/paul-dorrell.