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Essentially Lester wants to move on and has "back catalogued", or withdrawn from sale, nearly all of his pre 2016/17 prints.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.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Ends of lines - endangered prints about to sell out

"Boat at the Wharf" by Stanley Palmer
(4 prints left today)
I'm writing about our "endangered prints" collection this month because we have had an unusually high number of prints going into this ends of line category in the past few weeks (a few dozen as opposed to a handful every month or so).  This is probably due to the life cycle of the large number of prints published about 10 years back, when there was a structural shift in the market from artists printing reproductions to be on-sold by distributors to a few commercial publishers printing many titles from a single artist on a royalty basis.  There was a natural limit to this market (the size of NZ means there may only be a few hundred people who want a particular scene on the wall, and once they have it they aren't going to buy it again) so the slightly less popular titles from these ranges are not being re-printed and are now selling out.

Probably the print we will be saddest to see go is the beautiful large reproduction of Ralph Hotere's painting "Dawn/Water Painting".  This was originally published by the Christchurch Art Gallery to co-inside with a survey exhibition of Hotere's paintings while he was still alive (as an aside at times like this often a print is not made for strictly commercial reasons, the artist royalty of several thousand dollars will be paid up-front as a sweetener to get the artist's support to show works from their collection).  We have sold this print for many years and it is exactly what we believe in, a good quality reasonably priced art print by a top shelf NZ artist.  It probably will never be re-printed, so our advice to Hotere fans is please buy it today!

Why is this a thing?  It really has a lot to do with the size of the market for prints
Margaret Stoddart "Violets" (Last 2)
of NZ scenes or prints by NZ artists. Often an initial printing of a few hundred prints will be enough to satisfy demand.  The print may be open edition but the economic incentive to re-print is similar to the book industry, there will only be a second run if demand is there.  So, like books, prints simply go "out of print", and are only available on the second hand market.  This does not mean that their value will increase markedly if they are a reproduction of an original artwork but it does somewhat preserve their value around the purchase price as in good condition a print still has exactly the same appeal to a buyer even if it is not brand new (unlike say clothing).

This reality has changed a bit over the past decade as digital short run printing has become more prevalent, digital printing is ideally suited to a small market albeit at the disadvantage that unit costs do not decline dramatically as they do for offset lithography meaning prices are higher (we have seen the average cost of a large art print rise from around $NZ 50 to between $NZ 70-80 over the same period with the amount paid to the artist staying relatively static as the per unit printing cost is the main component in the cost increase (along with a small increase in GST).

So we have three main drivers for prints ending up in our "endangered prints" collection.

1. Print runs selling out.  A publisher, artist or gallery prints a few hundred prints and when they are sold out either customer demand is not there to re-print, or it was a one-off event such as a touring show/retrospective exhibition.

2. Prints were limited edition.  This is a different category altogether, particularly for original prints (where the prints are multiple artworks, they are not copies of another art form such as a painting) but also for reproductions printed in a smaller number, usually signed and numbered by the artist. These have a scarcity value as well as a decorative value and are not intended to be available over a longer period than a few years at most.  Established printmakers like Tony Ogle or Dick Frizzell tend to keep a balance between editions selling out and new work, with broadly the same number coming out each year as sell out - which shows that the supply and demand for their work is in balance.  It always rings alarm bells for us at the investment end of the art print market when initially successful artists with sold out editions begin increasing editions sizes, then the number of new editions each year, this is a slippery slope to beyond the pale re-printing under the guise of "roman numeral" editions etc!

3. Prints produced by commercial publishers using digital printing which theoretically could stay in print forever but are deleted by the publisher.  This is for two reasons. Firstly sales may not justify the space in sales reps catalogues or in administrative overhead (eg calculating artist royalties), one well known NZ publisher and distributor has a rule that if less than four prints a year are being sold they will delete the product line.  Secondly the artist's contract may not be renewed.  Contracts to make prints range from 1 to 3 years, unlike with offset printing where artist's work would be available potentially for years after the contract had lapsed due to a clause that allowed the publisher time to sell all printed stock with digital printing the lower stock inventories on hand means a publisher may only keep a month or two's supply on hand.

Shane Cotton Print - last one!
As soon as we know a print is running out (no firm and fast rule but less than 20 in stock is usually a trigger) we'll start keeping an eye on stock on hand.  When we are down to a number that is about what we would sell in a couple of months we pop the prints into our endangered gallery.  We also update our Facebook and Twitter accounts, and once a year we do a mail out to every one on our mailing list with every NZ print that is running low, so our special bunch of subscribers never miss out on a print they like but hadn't quite got around to ordering.

One final thought, selling prints online makes it so much easier to keep our catalogue up to date which is a blessing! Unlike our printed mail order catalogue which gradually becomes inaccurate regarding availability (and sometimes price) over the course of its useful life we can remove prints as easily as checking a box at the back of prints.co.nz.


Monday, 21 August 2017

Lindauer print found in US antique shop with background story about this famous painting

One of the interesting aspects of working at a business with a high profile online is the "unpaid helpdesk" kind of enquiries that flow in via email, over the phone and increasingly through Facebook messenger as well.  These are the enquiries that come to us when a NZ artwork is discovered, about to be sold, or just researched over the internet to find out a bit more about the print or artist.  We deflect enquiries about values of paintings to the right auctioneer for the quality of work/artist and can usually help if a person is trying to work out if an artwork is a painting or a print (what they paid for it is a good place to start!).

Most of these enquiries will not lead to a sale but there doesn't seem too much harm in helping out, hopefully the next time they are thinking about prints they will think of New Zealand Fine Prints.

We got a different kind of enquiry over the weekend from the States.  There a couple of kiwis had discovered a Lindauer maori portrait print in an antique store and they were keen to know if it had originally been sold by us.  What was cool about their enquiry however was that they also emailed a photograph of the label on the reverse of the framed print which had a very well researched blurb about the original painting, the artist and the subject (Rewi Manga Maniopoto) which contained much that was new to us despite having stocked this print for many years. Fascinating to learn that the cloak he is wearing is decorated with the tail hair of specially reared dogs that slept on clean mats to "keep their tails as white as possible"!

It was great to be able to say that we probably sold the print some time over the past 50 years and to thank them for sending us the extra information about this portrait, and that we would put this online for other people interested in this famous portrait to learn more about it:

Rewi Manga Maniopoto


Print of Lindauer's Painting
Rewi Manga Maniapoto, born between  l815 and 1820, was descended from Hioturoa, navigator of the ancestral canoe Tainui, and was an ariki of the Ngati Maniapoto. His tribal lands lay to the south of the Waikato tribe, in the rugged territory of the Waipa and Puniu rivers. From his boyhood, Rewi Manga was fully engaged with the Ngati Maniapoto in inter-tribal warfare.

Rewi Manga is remembered as one of the most popular fighting chiefs of the Maori King Movement. It was he, for instance, who encouraged the participation of Ngati Maniapoto and Waikato people in the Taranaki controversy, ignoring the opposition of the Maori King and Wiremu Tamehana. Rewi and his Ngati Maniapoto people also acted unilaterally in their bid to clear European authority out of the Waikato when they took possession of the Court, the schoolroom and the printing press of John Gorst, the Civil Commissioner of the district, at Te Awamutu.

Rewi's most celebrated action in the Waikato conflict was his last-ditch defence of the Orakau Pa in the heart of Ngati Maniapoto country, in March 1864. The gallantry of that defence has passed into legend. A contemporary report of the event provides a tribute to Rewi Manga's leadership of the federated tribes of the Waikato and Ngati Maniapoto, the Tuhoe of the Urewera, the Ngati Raukawa and Ngati Kahungunu of Hawke's Bay:

No human situation can be conceived more desperate or more hopeless   their lands gone, their race melting away like snow before the sun, and now their own turn come at fast; with enemies surrounding them on all sides . . . this is the last peace and surrender: hoa, ka whawhai tonu ahau ki a koe, ake' (Friend, I shall fight against you for ever and ever). 

In the years following the end of the Waikato war, the Ngati Maniapoto, led by Rewi Manga, together with the Maori King, Tawhiao Matutaera Potatau Te Wherowhero, encouraged Te Kooti to take up the work of routing the European settlers from the land. However, Rewi Manga did eventually renounce his support of Te Kooti in return for the assurances of the government that there would be no further military' operations in the King's territory.

Rewi Manga lived until 1894, through the period which saw the enactment of confiscation and the further decimation of the Maori population.

Lindauer's portrait depicts Rewi Manga in his prime, proudly displaying symbols of his chiefly power, and with full facial moko and huia feathers. He holds a hoeroa, a rare weapon carved from the- lower jaw bone of the sperm whale. His dogskin cloak, a kahu waero, was the most highly prized type of the Classical period. It is a dress mat like a korowai, but so thickly covered with strips of white dogstail that the kaupapa of the cloak is completely concealed by the long-haired bushy tails. This type of cloak was made by fastening strips of tail at one border of the mat, hanging loosely to form a heavy fringe. On the body of the mat, strips were placed along the warp and secured by the weft threads.

Colenso has left a record of the high value of this type of cloak, describing in particular the dogs from which the tails were obtained:

White haired dogs were greatly prized, and were taken the greatest possible care of: They slept in a house on clean mats, so that their precious tails should he kept as white as possible. Their tails were curiously and regularly shaved, and the hair preserved for ornamental use.