Tuesday, 17 February 2015

2014 - Art Print Market Review

Year of the Bird in NZ Art

2014 was the year of the bird in NZ prints.  The re-issued Native Birds of New Zealand poster nearly outsold "Mickey to Tiki", re-printed colour plates from Buller's Birds sold briskly alongside a menagerie of avian art from contemporary NZ artists.  Tui are definitely the new Nikau! And by the end of the year another big trend was shaping up - the circular print.  Yes, round is going to be a thing in 2015 - there were even artists so on trend they combined both with round prints of birds!
Native Birds of NZ

Publication News

The other exciting new prints published over 2014 included the first new print of a classic abstract Koru painting by Gordon Walters for a decade, the ongoing re-release of NZ's most popular artist Dick Frizzell's back catalogue as open edition prints, the expansion of the number of re-prints of genuine vintage posters alongside a huge number of new limited editions by NZ artists, especially the stunning work of veteran artist Michael Smither.  We also saw new prints of paintings by blue chip NZ artists like Hammond, Hotere and McCahon.  In 2013's art market review we said that tiki were going to evolve further and they certainly have, it's such an exciting area of NZ art we have now created a tiki category that numbered just on fifty different prints by the end of 2014.


The word picture/bus blind/eye chart has collapsed into a custom printed word association game that shows off the customisation potential of digital printing - editions of one for Kev & Julie's Wedding etc - think of 10 words and make sure you spell the names right. There are some good business models for printers in this now but the mainstream publishers are all saying that the place names bus blind and eye chart style typographical print has run its course.

One other change we have noticed is how remixed vintage style images are replacing straight photographic souvenirs like postcards. And yes, we are still waiting for the great NZ photography range to replace the stalwart poster selection published by Craig Potton Publishing a very long time ago.

Street art went mainstream in 2014, the market for Banksy prints and posters was by the end of the year a free-for-all, even the Warehouse imported some particularly grainy posters to flog through their daily deals site using our high quality offset prints (at the not exactly exorbitant $39.95) as the "why pay this much" tag.  The answer is of course that you get what you pay for, good quality paper stock, long life ink and perfect colour fidelity.  And in the case of some prints we saw, no pixelation either!  Over the Xmas holidays this writer even spotted an already discarded derivative canvas graffiti art style print in a provincial second hand shop, cast off with the speed of a poster of last year's boy band.  Great for business if people turn over their artworks so quickly, but we genuinely think the best value is purchasing an artwork that you will love for decades, the cost per view is quite high even if it's a cheap print if you buy something that can't sustain your interest much beyond the initial viewing.

What's in Store for 2015?

We think one of the artists to watch in 2015 will be Glenn Jones, he's pushing kiwiana in new directions and has quickly built up good distribution for his artwork through stores.  Jason Kelly is now on the same production train as Dick Frizzell, it would be great to see his previous success revisited as his "Kiwi As" series struck a chord with nearly everyone without looking like "made for tourists" kiwiana.

Propaganda Poster
The 100th Anzac day could be the catalyst for sales of vintage war posters, recruitment posters and propaganda posters.  But whether they should be promoted beyond the walls of the social studies department is an interesting debate.

Custom printing of reproduction prints will be on the rise in 2015 but still faces issues around copyright, royalties, unit costs and complexity at the customer end. The expectation we hear from some of our customers is that the print retailer can simply print images off the internet, asking could they buy, for example Banksy's "Girl with Balloons" with the background wall on canvas one metre square. Although technically possible to print reproductions of art works on demand like this publishers still carry stock in standard sizes as the work involved in printing a single image still makes a print run of 10 more economically feasible because the set up times are averaged across more than one print.  In the case of the Banksy prints and posters we are still ordering physical stock from publishers in the UK that is air freighted to NZ at a price lower than custom printing here in NZ.

Large print runs done offset will continue to be a better value proposition than bespoke printing for reproductions for popular artists and famous paintings.  Local publishers using giclee or inkjet printing still backorder retail orders until they can print a batch of the same image and size if possible.

What we'd love to see in 2015? Some great new prints featuring NZ's favourite sports!  Like finding the perfect view of Christchurch (unlike Auckland with Rangitoto or Wellington's hillsides of wooden houses) this has been attempted a few times (for instance David John's "Changing Room" series of Julia Drake's "not quite the All Blacks" prints around the time of the 2008 World Cup).  But for a country passionate about sport we have pretty much had to make do with just alcohol sponsored free posters of rugby teams or those framed jerseys that end up in the back of the wardrobe after the school fundraiser for too long.   Our art should reflect what we care about and although sport resonates with New Zealanders there are simply not enough artworks that celebrate our sporting traditions to meet demand.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Gifts for Xmas 2014 - Mailing Dates

As always pre-Christmas is an especially busy time for us here at 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 is vitally important. Please call us on 0800 800 278 if you have any questions about delivery of your prints in the lead up to Xmas.

NZ Fine Prints Christmas Mailing Dates for 2014 are as follows:

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


Please order your gifts by Wednesday 10th December 2014

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

Please order your gifts by Monday 8th December 2014

Rest of World

Order Xmas gifts by Friday 5th December 2014

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 Friday 19th December 2014

Deadline for next day courier delivery via CourierPost with guaranteed delivery for Xmas day is 3pm Tuesday 23 December

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 23 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.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Reproducing Gordon Walters artworks as prints (continued...)

Publishing prints of Gordon Walters artworks - a recap
The print of Gordon Walters' painting
(published by the Capper Press)

Back many years ago now our family's publishing company "The Capper Press" published a good quality photo-lithographic (off-set) colour reproduction print of a Gordon Walters koru series painting "Kahukura" - pictured here.  Prints of other Gordon Walters' artworks had also been made by other publishers and posters from exhibitions featuring good sized reproductions of his paintings and original prints were also on sale from time to time.

The print of Kahukura was about to sell out in 2007. In accordance with the publishing agreement we had with the artist - quote "In the event of an edition becoming out of print, the Publisher may reprint at his [sic] discretion" we went to re-print this popular print.  However an unexpected problem arose in what is usually a very straightforward process when we wanted to make sure we could do the best quality print possible.  This meant rather than re-using an old transparency we would use a fresh crisp digital image from Victoria University of Wellington in whose collection the original painting of "Kahukura" hangs. When they asked us to confirm clearance with the copyright holder (no longer Gordon Walters himself as he had died in 1995) we were stopped in our tracks by the Gordon Walters Foundation which now controlled his estate.

The reason the Gordon Walters Foundation gave for refusing permission for Victoria University to give us a new image to re-print was based on a legal opinion they had obtained regarding the original memorandum of understanding between our family's publishing company and Gordon Walters that we had forwarded to them - a narrow legalistic response that ignored the clear intent of the artist freely given while he was alive to allow reproduction prints to made of this painting.

Although this opinion was not persuasive we chose not to take it further for two reasons. Firstly out of respect for the wishes of the trustees of the Estate (they had presumably resorted to legal nitpicking because they didn't want prints being published, their reasons for this were never made clear but obviously this was the effect they wanted).   Secondly over the longer term we knew to try and win a narrow legal argument over the miniature of a yellowing agreement concerning just "Kahukura" meant we'd lose the goodwill of the Foundation's trustees when it came to us (or any other publisher) requesting copyright clearance to publish prints of other artworks by Gordon Walters in the future.

Previous more detailed discussion on this issue goes back to 2008

New Print Available - First Gordon Walters Print for a decade!
Print of "Makaro" - Painting by Gordon Walters
from Te Papa Collection Ref: 1970-0021-1
However the reason for re-visiting this issue is because, somewhat surprisingly given what is described above, we can announce that for the first time in a decade there is a new Gordon Walters print available for sale!

It is relatively expensive for an open edition reproduction print at $109.95 for a 510 x 670mm sized image. This is because they are being printed using the "one print at a time" giclee method rather than off-set and we are paying TWO separate commission amounts (neither amount goes to the Gordon Walters Foundation because the copyright for this painting was sold to the national museum along with the actual painting, it's Te Papa and their partner giclee printing company in Auckland who are getting the publishing royalties from Makaro). The irony is that the Foundation have effectively given a monopoly to the only publisher that ensures they will receive no financial benefit from any sales!

If this print does (as we certainly expect it will) become one of NZ's top selling prints I hope that the trustees of the Gordon Walters Foundation will revisit the issue of refusing to allow prints to be sold of the work of Gordon Walters. Making the artwork of significant New Zealand artists accessible to the thousands of people who appreciate their work but can't afford an original whilst raising ongoing revenue to promote the aims of the artists' Foundation via publishing royalties is recognised as making sense in the case of estates of similar artists Colin McCahon and Rita Angus - it's pretty conventional practice that shouldn't raise any concerns for the Gordon Walters Foundation trustees.

Lets hope this new print will not be the only one for print buyers to choose from until Gordon Walters' artwork leaves copyright in 2045!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Buying art by price - pragmatic approach to the fore during the gift buying season

Here at Prints.co.nz we spend a lot of time learning about the different ways people use to discover art, and how people actually look for art to buy once they are browsing our online catalogue.  Back in the early days of putting our catalogues online (last century!) we had a very academic approach to classification.  Prints were catalogued by artist (to answer the question - what prints are currently available by NZ artist x?) and movement.  Yep, we assumed customers would narrow their selection down by first considering the place the print was going and then would say to themselves something like, "I think a post-impressionist print would be ideal above the fireplace in the living room". Reality is rather different!

However as we head into the busiest selling time of the year - due to the enduring popularity of prints as Christmas presents - probably the most unromantic and practical way to select art comes to the fore. When buying gifts (and obviously gift vouchers) the most common starting point is of course the budget so top of mind are the prices of the artwork for sale!

Our website offers the ability to sort any category of prints by price in the drop down menu at the top of the main product listing page.  However we have found that when, for example, buying a leaving gift for a work colleague etc sorting the entire range of art prints for sale into clear price points saves a lot of browsing time.  Unlike buying for yourself a gift purchase is sometimes more of an obligation carried out with a degree of grudging reluctance rather than the pleasure of dreamily browsing artworks picturing them on the wall of your home or office.

Purchasing art by price is certainly not the only way that we would like to present the range of prints we have on offer but prosaic as it is if you just want to get the Xmas gift buying done as easily as possible going to the search by price collections listed on the browse by categories page and selecting a print from near the top when sorted by best-selling is one of the simplest ways to keep to your budget and give a gift that will be popular with the recipient.  Using our sales figures means you are crowdsourcing to find the kind of art that more New Zealanders like.  Quick, easy and reliable way of ensuring a happy smile when the gift is unwrapped.

Over the past few days we have updated all of the search by price collections by adding the hundreds of new art prints published and printed over the past few months.

We are delighted to announce that you  can now check out NZ Fine Prints entire Xmas 2014 range of over 2300 prints for sale sorted by price below:

Under $30 | $30 - $50 | $50 - $100 | $101 - $500 | $500+

Current best selling prints in NZ priced between $50-$100 - Screenshot from Prints.co.nz

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Two new limited edition prints from Shane Hansen

Artist Shane Hansen with
one of his sculptures
Pania & The Dragon
Edition of 50 prints
Hansen's two new limited edition prints make a compelling pair.  Both prints are semi-autobiographical, referencing the different strands of Hansen's genealogy, the Maori and the Chinese.  These artworks are about coming to terms with your cultural background, making sense of your ancestry.

Pania is a recurring character in Shane's work, in "Pania and the Dragon" she is depicted feeding a dragon from a bottle.  A poem accompanies the print

Oh bless the little girl who sits and feeds the little dragon
Does she not see the danger?
Look at his large toothy grin, his big greedy eyes
He will drink all her milk if she’s not careful
Why does she smile so?
What does she know that I don’t know?
Oh bless the little girl who sits and feeds the little dragon

Home Sweet Home is nostalgic but not sentimental, Shane says "No matter
Home Sweet Home
Edition of 50 prints
where we come from, what our heritage, we all have a place that is our ancestral home. Our distance, be it physical or emotional, holds no barriers, as all are welcome when the time comes to reconnect. This place, warmed by those who came before and those whom have kept the fires burning, waiting for our return. Home Sweet Home."

Both prints are in editions of fifty screenprints, individually lovely but we also think these look great as a pair of prints on the wall alongside each other.  Superb decoration for children's rooms that will become increasingly meaningful as they grow up alongside them.