Monday, May 19, 2003

giclee prints can't equal a hand crafted artefact

The proliferation of prints made with an inkjet printer, usually from digital scans or photographs of watercolours, is a depressing phenomenon. Craft and garden centres are the main offending outlets. Those prints that are signed and numbered to simulate the limited editions of hand-crafted prints are a crass attempt to give the print an artistic value which it can never have. There are good technical reasons why a wood engraving or etching is produced in a limited edition the plate or block has a limited life before the quality of the print degrades. There is no reason why an inkjet print from a digital source should not be produced by the thousand and of course the cheap prints sold in department stores are. L.S.Lowry – an artist with some business acumen allowed his work to be marketed in this way. A print of one of his paintings would sell for around £35 unsigned but for over twice that if signed. It amused him to think that people would pay £35-£40 for his autograph. A story goes that a sharp dealer once brought a batch of prints to his house to be signed. He started to sign them L.S.Low. when the dealer asked him what he thought he was doing, he replied, “Well you’ve only paid me half a fee so you’re only getting half a signature.”

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