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.

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