Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Fine Art Print vs Fine Art Printing

Can a print of fine art not be a fine art print?

I've never really liked the fine print part of our businesses name because it's meaning can be lost in a different context, ie the agreement sounds promising but have you checked the fine print?  But the fact that prints is also a homonym (prints/prince) also bugs me a bit so I think it is my inner language pedant that is at fault here rather than a branding issue that we need to change.

So we stuck with the Fine Prints part of our company's moniker when we broadened the business name from Avon Fine Prints (which was actually a sub brand of ours that specialised in limited edition reproductions of antique NZ prints in the 1960s and 70s) as we felt that this was now limiting the scope of what we did as we began stocking many more prints by contemporary artists.

This week I was surprised to find that another meaning for fine art print was in use that seems obvious now but had not resonated with me previously.

Northland Panels by Colin McCahon (Fine Art Print?)
We are calling a reproduction of Colin McCahon's painting "Northland Panels" a fine art print, why asked Glenn of Artrite - when it was not fine art printing at all but a photolithograph?  Ah, we said, that is because Colin McCahon is a "fine art" New Zealand artist.  Meaning that he has studied fine art, produced fine art (rather than design or decorative art) and the artist's work appears in collections at prestigious NZ art galleries such as Te Papa or Auckland Art Gallery.

But Glenn had had a call from a gallery concerned that we were selling a "fine art print" of a well-known artist's work for $60, which a customer had pointed out to them looked like the same image they were selling that was printed by Artrite for $600 - in this case a limited edition screenprint (which we also stocked).  From a screenprinters' point of view fine art print meant a fine art production process, rather than a reproduction photo-lithograph like the $60 print.  This had not occurred to me, and it had not occurred to Glenn that a photo-lithograph could be a fine art print as it was a print of fine art!

We do not want to sow seeds of confusion, we are not trying to convey that the $60 print in question is of the same quality as a limited edition screenprint - but we also need to use the words that are in common usage for what we sell in order for customers to find what they wish to buy.  The case I remember from the early days of online marketing was the luxury car brand that insisted that second hand cars were "pre-owned" rather than "used", but had to change this when they realised that nobody ever looked for "pre-owned cars".

Occasionally we are taken to task over whether a print is actually a "reproduction", or if a reproduction print should actually be called a "poster".  I refer back to the car example above, to some extent we have to use the words that customers use even if there is a narrower meaning to an expert in their field, in this case a fine art printer like Glenn from Artrite.

We are making some big changes to prints.co.nz in the next few weeks, one job I will do during this process is to check every one of our thousands of product listings to make sure we are describing prints as accurately as we can - some listings are now just on 20 years old and in the light of this interesting discussion I will make sure that descriptions are as clear to as many of our visitors as possible as they are to us when we are writing them.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

2017, Year in review for NZ art market

Like many retailers a big story for us in 2017 was the great election pause, the spending hiatus between September's election and the coalition's formation of a new government several weeks later.  Why people chose to put off buying decisions while we waited for Winston Peter's to decide which parties he would go into coalition with is not clear, but New Zealand Fine Prints was not alone in noticing very flat sales for our artists and publishers during this period in what was otherwise a pretty normal trading year.

We didn't notice any big new art trends emerging, it was a consolidation year with a broad range of styles, genres and artists selling rather than a concentrated burst of sales like we have had previously for street art, or mid century modern.

The most popular prints in New Zealand were a familiar roll-call of the well-known, the well-distributed and the well-priced.

Here are the 80 most popular prints in New Zealand for 2017

Mickey to Tiki by Dick Frizzell
Native Birds of NZ Poster
Tui Print from Bullers Birds of NZ
Fantail from Buller's Birds of NZ
World Map Poster (NZ centred)
Native Birds of NZ Canvas Art Print - Ready to Hang
The Endless Summer Poster
Captain Cook's Map of the Coast of New Zealand (Large)
Dawn/Water Poem by Ralph Hotere
Grounded in Papatunanuku with Strength and Unity II by Jane Crisp
Treaty of Waitangi Poster
New Zealand Tramping Huts Poster
Boats, Island Bay by Rita Angus
Castaways (Kina) by Jo Bridge
The Answer (Meaning of Life) by Dick Frizzell
Vintage World Wall Map Canvas Print
New Zealand Vintage Poster
The Fall of Icarus by Bill Hammond
NZ Map Poster
Tomorrow will be the same by Colin McCahon
Bill Hammond Print "Jingle Jangle Morning"
Ena Te Papatahi by Charles Goldie
Goddess of Mercy by Rita Angus
Diana Adams Print "Secluded Cove"
Gordon Walters Print - Makaro
Grahame Sydney Print "Fiddler's Flat"
Indigenous Preservation II - Tahi by Jane Crisp
Rangitoto by Diana Adams
The Starry Night Poster by Vincent Van Gogh
Vintage Tasman Empire Airways Poster
Winter Sports at Tongariro National Park Vintage NZ Poster
All 'e Same t'e Pakeha by Charles Goldie
View Towards Mount Richmond by Toss Woollaston
Cass by Rita Angus
Hot Buttered by Dick Frizzell
Koru by Diana Adams
River's Journey by Diana Adams
Vintage Geological Map of New Zealand
Auckland Harbour from Ponsonby by Fiona Whyte
Dominion Map of NZ - Vintage Canvas Style
New Zealand by Captain James Cook
Rangitoto View Canvas Print by Irina Velman
Seven Minutes (Crayfish Print) by Dick Frizzell
The Kiss by Gustav Klimt
Vintage Queenstown Travel Poster
Almond Blossom Poster by Vincent Van Gogh
Balloon Girl by Banksy - Large Poster
Dick Frizzell's Print Mickey to Tiki (Reversed)
Fish species of New Zealand Poster
Kowhai Botanical Print by Emily Harris
Memories by Charles Goldie
Virgin Forest by Henri Rousseau
Botanical Print - Pohutukawa by Sarah Featon
Hawkdun Spring by Grahame Sydney
NZ Vintage Fly Fishing Poster
Print of "Garnet Dairy" by Graham Young
Queen with Moko by Barry Ross Smith
Starry Night Print by Vincent Van Gogh
Tip Top Times by Sam Mathers
Treasure Hunt - Kotare’s Taonga by Jane Crisp
Tree (1943) by Rita Angus
Wellington Lights Photograph
Winery Doors Poster - Hawkes Bay & Wairarapa
Aotearoa Canvas Print by Jason Kelly
Calloused Veneer by Barry Ross Smith
Fishes of New Zealand Poster
Lunchtime atop a skyscraper New York 1932 by Charles Ebbets
Native Flowers of NZ - Ready to Hang Print on Canvas
Riverhead by Karl Maughan
Road to Leigh 1979 by Retro Posters
Summertime Wellington by Marianne Muggeridge
Tony Ogle Print "Harotaonga"
Tututables Reproduction Print by Weston Frizzell
Vintage Native Flowers of New Zealand Poster
Wellington Vintage Poster
As there is a Constant Flow of Light by Colin McCahon
Cabbage Tree by Diana Adams
Great Wave by Katsushika Hokusai
Kapiti Island by Ernest Papps
Kids at Play by Matt Guild

Looking forward to 2018 which will be the new artist names entering this list?

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

End of an era for controversial printmaker Lester Hall

It took a while for the message to get through as we initially didn't believe that printmaker Lester Hall was going to take nearly all of his prints off the market because he wanted to get away from the controversy that he had created.  Yep, despite their popularity with print buyers over the past five years the large majority of Lester's prints are being deleted and will not be available for sale again.

The arresting nature of his artworks was not after all an end in itself, to some extent they were an attention grabbing entry point to his deeply thoughtful philosophy of "Aoteroaland", the relationships between Maori and Pakeha and the land of Aotearoa.

Lester Hall  Photo: Dean Wright | Northern Advocate
Essentially Lester wants to move on and has "back catalogued", or withdrawn from sale, nearly all of his pre 2016/17 prints.  He wants collectors to see a refreshed range of prints and has produced some stunning new work which is less focussed on Ngati Pakeha themes, more art than activism.

We have felt a bit of heat over promoting Lester's artworks, the most intense was from descendants of some of his portrait subjects.  Our belief is that artworks do cause offence to some people but that just because a group of people are offended is not a reason to withdraw an artwork from sale.  New Zealand is a pretty diverse country, the internet makes it possible for us to show artworks to people who have completely different attitudes and beliefs and to only have prints for sale that would not offend anyone's sensibilities would be difficult.  We also believe in freedom of speech.

However Lester tells us he is over exploring these themes in his work

"It is certainly not a case of having had enough of the old work but definitely change that has come about due to angst & stress, moving away from the Maori & Pakeha narrative is proving beneficial in a lot of ways but most importantly [to] health and wellbeing." 

So we have two announcements to make, one is that the following prints are
"Blue Lady", new print from Lester Hall
being deleted, these will not be available ever again once stock on hand is sold out (look on the main image page for how many prints we have available to buy today if they are still showing in Lester's online collection at prints.co.nz).  The second is that we have over a dozen new prints by Lester Hall coming into stock in time for Xmas 2017.  The first of these are arriving soon, including the superb new artwork "Blue Lady" shown here.

Here is the list of prints that won't be re-printed once we sell out, we'll update this post once these images are no longer available.  Our understanding is that we have the very last prints of many of these editions at the time of writing (mid November 2017).

  • Grant Going
  • Royal Tour 
  • Te Rauparaha 
  • Mofo
  • Boogieman
  • Queenie
  • Phantom
  • Guns & Roses (portrait of Hongi Hika)
  • Only the Good Die Young
  • Wikitoria
  • Tiki Tour
  • Cheeky Little Darkie (sold out)
  • Kiwiana Tiki (sold out)
  • Buzzy Bee Tiki
  • Poll Tax
  • Barnett Burns
  • White Chief (sold out)
  • Tiki Mouse (sold out)
  • Aroha (Phantom & Diana)
  • Bondage
  • Ahumai Te Paerata (sold out)
  • Wahine (sold out)
  • Tui Races Jet
  • Piercy Rock
  • Hoki Mai: All is Forgiven
  • War Dog
  • Taniwha takes Wahine
  • Jetson's Tiki
  • Charlotte Badger

Monday, 13 November 2017

Mailing dates for Xmas gifts 2017

From now until Christmas is the busiest time of the year sales wise for NZ Fine Prints. Art prints are perennially popular Xmas gifts and making sure we deliver on time for Xmas around the world and throughout NZ has been something we have been doing for 50 years!!

This Christmas falls awkwardly for last minute gift buying being on a Monday means no deliveries Xmas Eve (Sunday) so our cut off dates are generally a day or two earlier than normal.

Official mailing dates are below, these apply to our standard delivery service. There may be other delivery options available outside of our standard service/pricing so if you think you are running out of time please call us on 0800 800 278 in the lead up to Xmas, we may be able to work something out for you.

NZ Fine Prints Christmas Mailing Dates for 2017 are as follows:

Delivery worldwide at our standard rate of just $NZ15 (for any number of prints):

Australia

Please order your gifts by Wednesday 6th December 2017

UK & Europe, East Asia, North America & South Pacific

Please order your gifts by Friday 1st December 2017

Rest of World

Order Xmas gifts by Wednesday 29th November 2017

Xmas Delivery to NZ Addresses

Standard Delivery for $NZ6 (for any number of prints)

We need to have your orders for prints being delivered as gifts for Xmas by 3pm Tuesday 19th December 2017

Deadline for next day courier delivery via CourierPost with guaranteed delivery for Xmas day is 3pm Wednesday 20th December 2017

Framed Prints - please order 10 working days before these mailing dates to ensure we can deliver by Christmas.

Gift Vouchers


NZ Prints also deliver gift vouchers by mail to NZ addresses if ordered by 20 December - and email gift vouchers are even being purchased on Xmas day itself and delivered instantly around the world. Now that is last minute Christmas shopping!

Shipping & Delivery Updates


As we get closer to Xmas we will update any delays or known issues with Xmas delivery on our shipping & delivery page.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Artist Submissions

Please note this article is regarding artists submitting reproduction prints of their paintings to NZ Fine Prints, not multiple originals (editions) which are not copies of another artwork. We generally accept submissions of original prints by New Zealand artists as a matter of course. Stocking every NZ print available had been our raison d'ĂȘtre since 1966. 

One of the best and worst parts of my job is dealing with artist submissions.  The thrill of new work that is exactly the kind of prints that our customers are looking for, or prints that we believe should be available to buy even if they may not have the greatest level of sales tempered by the need to gently turn down artists whose work may not work for us.  This is really hard to do but unless we started charging to list prints for sale we have to be sure that a print is economically viable for us to catalogue and promote a new title for sale.

I have written before about how "you should make prints of your paintings" from a studio visitor turning down the opportunity to buy one of your paintings does not validate the notion that there is a market for your work, your visitor may just be being polite!

Type of print (printing method) is an important consideration

Before I touch on the content or theme of your artworks there is the issue of what sort of prints you are planning to publish.

The advent of digital (or giclee) printing means that a small print run is commercially viable, however the high unit cost means the retail price has to be relatively high for what is still a reproduction of another artwork rather than an original print.  This means artists envision selling their prints as "limited edition", signing and numbering each print partly to justify the high purchase price.  However this limits the appeal of the print unless it is very high quality, in a small edition size and in general a big print. We've discussed the different kinds of limited editions and our views on this in an earlier post here

Frederick St Cafe by Wellington
artist Sarah Molloy
Giclee does not have to mean a price over $NZ100.  Many commercial art print publishers print nearly all of their open edition reproductions this way, reserving offset printing only for the top selling images from the most popular artists.  These are the prints we sell for $NZ49.95 - $NZ79.95, up to 600 x 800mm image sizes, they use lightfast inks and acid free paper.   They can do this because they are paying the artists (or galleries, artist estates, museums etc) a royalty on each print rather than the artist taking the full wholesale price.  A royalty payment is a bit less than an artist will receive if they are taking the risk on themselves by self-publishing (printing and distributing their own prints to retailers like New Zealand Fine Prints directly).  However with the cost of digital printers continuing to fall we have recently listed for sale the prints of artist Sarah Molloy, her Wellington scenes are printed digitally and she receives the full wholesale price for her work rather than a royalty but her prints can still retail at a very saleable $59.95 price point.

Subjects & Themes

Tiki Tour Takeaways by Greg Straight
Subject wise we are looking for recognisably New Zealand content.  Prints of places people care about, observations of kiwi life that resonate with us, that reinforce the multifaceted but interlocking identities of modern NZ society.  Kiwiana is morphing into something beyond just a celebration of the icons of Pakeha consumerism to a broader categorisation of unpretentious, accessible decoration with a kiwi flavour.  For instance this new print from Greg Straight, it's a slice of contemporary kiwi life more than a nostalgic view of a less culturally inclusive past.

Obviously well-known artists are good bets as well, we still believe in our role in making good quality prints available at reasonable prices of New Zealander's favourite paintings, prints for people who like the art or artist but are not considering purchasing the original artwork for it may be locked away in a gallery or requiring an investment level of money to acquire it.