Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Printing & selling canvas prints - advice for NZ artists from Christchurch painter Linelle Stacey

The trend for artists to reproduce their work as canvas prints either instead of or alongside traditional paper prints has (along with the migration from offset to digital printing) been one of the major changes in the reproduction prints part of our industry over the past ten years.

Artists contact us regularly to ask how they go about making and selling prints of their paintings on canvas so NZ Art Print News spoke to one of the most successful sellers of reproductions on canvas in New Zealand to find out how she does it.

Christchurch artist Linelle Stacey who publishes
a top selling range of reproduction canvas prints
of her paintings
We asked Christchurch painter Linelle Stacey what made her decide to publish and sell prints in the first place. She told us that she had "painted a little through my teens and even exhibited my work in my early twenties but then marriage and a family took precedence and I put my art aside until my family was grown.  Five years ago I gave up a full time job to be an artist and soon found it was difficult to provide an income from painting alone. Having prints as well as paintings for my customers to purchase has allowed me to continue to paint full-time and gives my customers a lower priced options for buying my artworks."

Stacey did not choose to publish prints on paper because she painted on stretched canvases and by printing on canvas the artworks would be "as much like the originals as was possible".

To achieve the level of sales that Linelle has she didn't simply reproduce prints of her favourite paintings to see how they would go. Her first step was to research the market, both to see how prints were being made and find out what subjects and scenes were popular. She told us "I went to as many galleries and print retailers as I could find to see what prints were currently available and asked questions about the printing processes that were involved. I used the internet and also rang printers and again asked a lot of questions."

A lot of artists get stuck trying to find the right printer (we wrote about the options available in NZ digital printing market from a more technical point of view last year here) so we asked Linelle how once she had decided which images to print how did she choose the printer to print her canvases for her? She told us that "I spoke with a large number of printers, telling them what I was looking for and eventually found around half a dozen that I felt could possibly provide the kind of prints I was looking for".

Her next step was to compare canvas printers.  "I invested a little money at this point in getting samples from these print companies so I could physically see what their prints looked like. I was then able to compare quality, the materials they used, prices and delivery timeframes." Linelle ranked the results of her sample printing with quality being her number one priority, but always balanced against price. "In the end", says Linelle,  "I think it came down to a desire to work with me to provide the kind of print I wanted at a price that was acceptable. There are a lot of companies who simply say – this is what we do and this is the price. They didn’t particularly care or even listen to what I was trying to achieve."

In the end the printer Linelle chose is based in New Zealand.  She said "I ordered some samples from overseas printers. This was a very expensive time consuming process and the quality was rubbish compared to the NZ companies I’d trialled."

"Routeburn Stones" Linelle Stacey's latest canvas print
1000 x 400mm $NZ 199.95
We asked Linelle how she went about selling the prints once they had arrived, and what are her most popular subjects. She told us "I sell through the internet, through retail outlets (and of course you can buy all of Linelle's canvas prints from NZ Fine Prints' canvas prints collection) and my studio. My most popular subjects are the same with my prints as with my paintings, beaches (especially towards the end of summer), winter mountainous landscapes, monochromatic images and landscapes with dramatic lighting such as the Lindis Pass."

Finally what are Linelle's hot tips for NZ artists considering printing and selling reproduction prints on canvas?

1. Great images of your artwork are key.  Linelle has a very talented photographer who produces the most amazing digital copies of her work. Have a look at our article by Auckland photographer Bret Lucas on "How to photograph a painting" if you would like to learn more on this vital first step.

2. Don’t be put off by information from any one company. There are many different printing services out there and with perseverance you will find the right one for you.

Thank you Linelle for sharing your experience with publishing canvas prints with NZ Art Print News.

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