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Best size, paper, printer and theme for selling fine arts prints

Arun Gaur

New member
I was wondering

1. What are the most popular sizes for selling the fine art prints?

2. The most popular paper for sale?

3. Are there some printers that are more successful than others (like Epson 3800 though with much ink wasted)?

3. Can the metallic prints on Kodak Endura or any other comparable paper be sold successfully?

4. Whether these are the wild animal or nature prints that are only saleable? Or can we sell portraits of unknown persons whose model release cannot be obtained even if we wish to procure them?

Of course these issues are linked to the local nature of buying public, even then there are some generalities that can be formulated.

Thanks

Arun Gaur
http://tripolia-indianlandscapeimages.com
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Arun,

This is a very important question. I feel a lot more huge printers are bought than huge prints are sold!

The sizes depends on the market. Who has bought from you in the past or from folk you set yourself to emulate? Define that space first and then everything follows. All the printers from Canon, HP and Epson print so well that it's unlikely to make any difference to you except for service and ink charges. More folk buy printers and don't use them than you might imagine. You can pick up used modern Epson's for a song!

When you say, "Fine Art", what do you mean? Is it a print from an online Guru who sells PDF's and runs tours or is it from a photographer who's work is collected. Can you look up that person's work in a catalog of sold photography? I'm not intimating that one is better than the other, it's just practical to know what set of photographers you feel might be your peers and or competition. Then one can see what sizes their corner of the market demands.

So the first question is, give us the names of photographers in who's peer level you would dream to operate?

Asher
 

Arun Gaur

New member
Asher thanks for responding so quickly. Sometimes the net at my place does not work for hours together and the power supply so erractic now a days. So I may respond after a considerable break.

Anyway let me try to answer your question.

When I say "Fine Art", in very general way I don't define it very precisely. I let others define it. For this particular thread I mean by "Fine Art" the kinds of work that are and can be sold to the general interested and avid public or to the collectors in accordance with whatever their propensities are.

In order to be still clearer I would suggest the kind of works that are being sold at well known galleries and at perhaps not that well known galleries.

There are many galleries in my mind. I would give only one or two examples just to illustrate it. Take the "Verve" gallery of Sant Fe, or Bau-Xi Photo gallery in Vancouver, or Luz at Victoria.

Similarly I would not name photographers. Let us say the photographers like those ones that are represented in these galleries or even photographers like you and me.


I have found a great variety of print sizes on the list of these galleries. They vary from smaller than 8"X12" to larger than 40" inches width.

Portraits are also there. Naturescapes too. And I don't think it is always possible to get the model releases.

C-prints are there and ink-jets too.

The most important question that lurks in my mind is--whether a person like me, who may think tomorrow (maybe after retirement) to bank heavily on sale of his prints, can confine himself to the sale of prints that are less in dimensions than 20"X30"? I mean if he decides to sell landscape, portraits of sizes equal to 12"x18" or less than that what are his prospects of being a successful seller (irrespective of other things like market strategies, area etc. which should be assumed as good to begin with and which form an important but a separate part of the discussion.) ?

Does the public like to purchase the small prints or the bigger ones (perhaps again this is linked to the regional issues)?



Arun Gaur
http://tripolia-indianlandscapeimages.com
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
There are many galleries in my mind. I would give only one or two examples just to illustrate it. Take the "Verve" gallery of Sant Fe, or Bau-Xi Photo gallery in Vancouver, or Luz at Victoria.
Well that at least gives some broad idea.

I have found a great variety of print sizes on the list of these galleries. They vary from smaller than 8"X12" to larger than 40" inches width.
A 24" wide printer could cover most of your work and for that larger, get it printed for you.

Portraits are also there. Naturescapes too. And I don't think it is always possible to get the model releases.
I don't understand these remarks, Arun! When you say "Portraits are there", do you mean, "Other are selling them successfully", or that you could do the same? Either you do them or you don't, LOL! If it's your thing, you do it, if not don't! Who cares about model releases? If you do it for a client, they are giving consent. If it's a street picture then it depends on the local laws. In general in the USA consent is not required for "art" unless you are using it for commercial ads, a book cover and the like.

The most important question that lurks in my mind is--whether a person like me, who may think tomorrow (maybe after retirement) to bank heavily on sale of his prints, can confine himself to the sale of prints that are less in dimensions than 20"X30"?
You plan to earn a living this way? Sorry to shock you, but size is not the issue here, it's whether or not your work can compete on precious wall space with other art! It costs a fortune to run a gallery. Being good is not sufficient to get a gallery to carry your works. If you give them an even bigger print, that means even more wall space! The first thing to overcome is the barrier to get in the gallery in the first place. The curator or owner will, by their selections, guide you as to what can sell to their clients. Don't be insulted if you already have a substantial following. If that's the case, you have your ticket to some gallery who'll love your client base if they can make more money from you than another opportunity.

Just watch what goes on in a gallery. There's a manager and an assistant or two and perhaps a secretary. The walls are the most valuable space. Just guess the rent and add up the salaries and you can estimate how much each wall has to produce in sales to keep that place open and running at a profit.

Does the public like to purchase the small prints or the bigger ones (perhaps again this is linked to the regional issues)?
Where does your work stand now? Is all this predicated on printing out pictures you already have made or plan to make? I'll look at the galleries you mentioned. Do you happen to have a portfolio/gallery of pictures that you will be printing out and selling as "fine art" this way?

Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Arun,

When there are these questions of "printer size" in relationship to depending on print sales for income I'm so uncomfortable! Are we dealing with a naive person who just imagines he/she can make an image that is going to be sold or do we have a person with a substantial collection of well-recieved images that are going to make it anyway?

More often than not, the question shouldn't be about the printer but the body of work.

Asher
 

Mike Shimwell

New member
What's a "fine art print"?

A marketing catchphrase.


Arun,

focus on your photography and you'll find your prints have a 'natural' size. Don't mix up photography and commerce in your mind and don't underestimate the effort required to make a living from prints - if that is what you want to do. You'll notice that most of those whove got rich(er) from the digital photography revolution had done it through writing about gear and not photographs - selling the dream if you like.

Mike
 

Alain Briot

pro member
This is a very important question. I feel a lot more huge printers are bought than huge prints are sold!
Asher
Indeed. Also, a lot of large prints are made that are never shown... And if you don't show them, you can't sell them! That's where it all starts. The choice of paper, size, ink and even subject matter are unimportant if no one sees your work!
 

Alain Briot

pro member
Arun,

More often than not, the question shouldn't be about the printer but the body of work.

Asher
Absolutely. Most collectors can't tell a 9800 from a 9880. Plus, they buy the image, not the printer.

I think that an important step in the personal development of a photographer into an artist is to step away from considering the equipment first and the work second. The minute the work (or print) comes first and the equipment comes second you are on your way to creating art.

Another important step is when you start to "lag" or "lapse," intentionally or not, on upgrading your equipment. This again indicates a switch in your focus from the gear to the work. While there are important milestones in equipment and software development, there's really no need to get each and every version that comes out to do meaningful work.

In the end, except for the main technical components that define your work (inkjet prints vs gelatin silver prints for example), few of the technical specs about the gear/software you use will make it into the buyer's mind or into "posterity." Few people will ever know which version of Photoshop you use to make a specific image. That they know you used Photoshop might be all! I tend to think it is the mark of amateurs to list each piece of gear and software they own when talking about their work. The professionals know that this information is far from being important to collectors. They know that the artist statement is about the artist and not the gear and software.
 

Ken Tanaka

pro member
Does the public like to purchase the small prints or the bigger ones (perhaps again this is linked to the regional issues)?

http://tripolia-indianlandscapeimages.com
After all is considered, I suspect that the answer distills to some simple guiding factors.

1. Budget: If we're talking about "the public", spending any more than one food coupon ($20) on something completely discretionary that they can't eat or wear (or both) is a stretch.

2. Subject: Flowers, puppies, nauseatingly sentimental landscapes, rusty farm gear, sailboats...anything clichė that poses no challenge to the inevitable immediate "public" question of "What is it?" can be printed bigger than 8x10. But anything not "pretty" will be a challenge to sell to "the public" at any price or size.

3. Decor: Give yourself 20 extra points if your photos are in warm earth tones. The "Public" has no sense of the color wheel so they look for stuff that looks exactly like their brown carpet and oatmeal chairs. Subtract 20 points if your stuff lies mostly on the other side of the wheel. Most of the experienced guys selling big oceanic prints ... normally big blue skies with sailboats leaning on a turn ... have long since discovered that conversion to b&w did wonders for their sales by immediately neutralizing any decor palette challenges and giving buyers the opportunity to get something that they think will give their settings an air of "class"...the driving "public" perception of b&w prints.

4. Carrying Capacity: Subtract 50 points if you're trying to sell big prints at a summer stroll-through street fair. People are loathe to buy stuff they can't easily carry away in one hand (while browsing their text messages with the other).

Good luck.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Arun,

"What printer to get?"

I decided to put that question on hold and instead, do a general reset of my thinking on this matter by a prolonged visit to your website. I picked these pictures that might get interest.









What comes to mind is that you are educated, articulate, poetic and really love indian color and diversity. So go with these strengths. I'd start by making books!

Table top books: showing the beauty and mystery under a theme as simple as

Women of India

The Indian Locomotive the Indian Continent

Street India

You write but there's a lot to read. Tighten immensely using only 1 metaphor per page.

Children's books: Explain India to them. Address to to kids of 8-10. Go to a book store and see what's there and ask what sells to find if you have material for that market.

With this you will get an idea of the "public" liking your work, or not.

Hotel/Office/Bank art/small gallery: Make a selection of 20 -30 of the prettiest engaging decorative pictures. Exclude anything that invokes puzzling, politics, pain, parasites or pity! Print only 6 of them them 16 x24 and take them to a decorator/gallery. Have a set of "catalog" pages with 4 pics to a page of the rest. Give a 50% commission and see if that works.

So this is how my visit to your website led me to think in relation to your body of work. It could be that the galleries you mentioned might take your work, but first taking the steps I suggest might get you strengthened for the process.

Asher

This does not get you a printer! Will Thompson has been picking up 9000 series Epsons for under $1,000 as he loves "bargains" and is thrilled to get them going. Jay Leno collects cars! You however may not need to ever buy one in the next 2 years.
 

Ken Tanaka

pro member
OK Arun, having gotten a bit of constructive sarcasm out of the way here's what I would recommend as a size strategy for some of your work:
print small
.

Ignore what "most people" do. Most people are sheep. You have a unique opportunity to present some of your imagery in a very special, and potentially profitable, way. Skip your landscapes. Leave them home, they're nice but not really special and are just more faces in a very, very crowded travel snapper market.

Select, say, 10-15 of your people images (ex: http://tinyurl.com/2ar6pnf), boost their luminance and saturation a small bit, and print them no larger than a 4x5 contact print. Matte them eccentrically, perhaps in 10x12 size mattes (stick with standard store-bought sizes here) and see if these don't do very well. They should. Small sizes force viewers to get close to see the image but do not impose themselves on buyers' rooms. By making them "precious" you can also maintain good prices.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Select, say, 10-15 of your people images (ex: http://tinyurl.com/2ar6pnf), boost their luminance and saturation a small bit, and print them no larger than a 4x5 contact print. Matte them eccentrically, perhaps in 10x12 size mattes (stick with standard store-bought sizes here) and see if these don't do very well. They should. Small sizes force viewers to get close to see the image but do not impose themselves on buyers' rooms. By making them "precious" you can also maintain good prices.
Ken,

I like this approach as it does not require the gallery to risk so much wall space. It will be a very special modest corner that will have more richness per/meter than anywhere else.

Asher
 

Arun Gaur

New member
There is so much of practical wisdom contained in all the replies that I am just ruminating over it and would get back to you after absorbing the different nuances and aspects. I am sure these letters would benefit many others apart from me.

In the meanwhile I thank all the correspondents warmly.

Arun Gaur
http://http://tripolia-indianlandscapeimages.com
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
There is so much of practical wisdom contained in all the replies that I am just ruminating over it and would get back to you after absorbing the different nuances and aspects. I am sure these letters would benefit many others apart from me.

In the meanwhile I thank all the correspondents warmly.

Arun Gaur
http://http://tripolia-indianlandscapeimages.com
Arun,

Most folk don't ask or answer the question they think might expose them.

Asher
 

Arun Gaur

New member
Arun,

Most folk don't ask or answer the question they think might expose them.

Asher



Asher
I don't have much or I have very little to be scared on that count as my foibles and weaknesses are generally well known and add to that--I have not much to brag about.
Arun
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Arun,

Most folk don't ask or answer the question they think might expose them.

Asher
Asher
I don't have much or I have very little to be scared on that count as my foibles and weaknesses are generally well known and add to that--I have not much to brag about.
Arun
Arun,

My quip was meant to read as,

Arun, [except for the few who actually ask questions that are helpful to many loyal but silent lurkers on a forum,] most folk don't ask or answer the question they think might expose them. So your question is valuable!

Asher
 

Alain Briot

pro member
Arun,

My quip was meant to read as,

Arun, [except for the few who actually ask questions that are helpful to many loyal but silent lurkers on a forum,] most folk don't ask or answer the question they think might expose them. So your question is valuable!

Asher
Expose them to what? In my view, there is no silly question. One cannot move forward without answers to today's questions.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Expose them to what? In my view, there is no silly question. One cannot move forward without answers to today's questions.
Alain,

Of course, you are right.

Getting help is often getting someone else's 20 years of hard earned experience. Why make each mistake oneself? I'd rather learn what others have already taken pains to get right!

Unfortunately, a lot of folks are indeed embarrassed to ask the simplest questions. This shouldn't be! They feel it exposes the fact that they don't know that set of facts. Whenever someone does ask the question, in a way, they do it on behalf of a lot of people too shy or inhibited to ask themselves. I know for a fact there are "pros" who as so scared that asking something in the open will have negative effects on their clients.

I myself have no hesitation to ask and I frequently do.

Asher
 
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Alain Briot

pro member
Asher,

We are on the same page on this subject. It's an interesting subject. Eventually, those who are not afraid to ask, or make mistakes, are those who move forward. Those who are afraid eventually are left on the sidelines, wondering why those who are moving forward are so good at what they do! Hey, the reason why they are "so good" is because they are not afraid to get help when help is needed! Keep it simple. Talent has little, or nothing, to do with it.

Just so it is known, I never make fun of anyone asking me a question. There are no silly questions in my book. I have asked them all: silly, stupid, inappropriate, irrelevant, etc. ! I have one motto when I take a class, workshop, seminar, etc. (yes, I do study, I don't know everything and hope I never do!): I never leave the class with a question. I'll "hang out" until all my questions are answered. I will "pester" the instructor until the last question is answered. So be it. If they can't take it, they can just kick me out! I don't mind as long as I get my questions answered.
 

Arun Gaur

New member
Though I did not want to participate immediately in the forth-going discussion, I cannot help "interfering" here a bit. I would like to act a little pompous here. Many many years ago (maybe 20) sitting in the University Library when the dusk was filtering through the Western windows, I happened to read on a page of a book on philosophy--there are always many more questions in the world than the answers. Just a side note.

I will get back.

Arun Gaur
http://http://tripolia-indianlandscapeimages.com
 

Andrew Stannard

pro member
Eventually, those who are not afraid to ask, or make mistakes, are those who move forward. Those who are afraid eventually are left on the sidelines, wondering why those who are moving forward are so good at what they do!
Being able to ask questions is one of the joys of life - it enriches the world around us, and leads us down hitherto unexplored alleys.

It's something that comes naturally to us in childhood, but deserts so many of us in adulthood - we should all try to prevent that happening.
 

Alain Briot

pro member
Being able to ask questions is (...) something that comes naturally to us in childhood, but deserts so many of us in adulthood - we should all try to prevent that happening.
Andrew,

That's a very good point. Children can be characterized, among other things, by their constant desire to ask questions. That is certainly one of the reasons why they learn so fast!
 

Alain Briot

pro member
Many many years ago (...) I happened to read on a page of a book on philosophy--there are always many more questions in the world than the answers. Just a side note.
Arun,

That was then. Now there's more answers than questions because most people are afraid to ask ;-) The exception being children (see above). We all need to become little kids again and the philosophical point you talk about will become true again!
 

Arun Gaur

New member
Alain

Can't help it. I join again. Again the lines from 1855 edition of Walt Whitman's monumental long poem "Leaves of Grass" (more that 1200 lines) come to my mind. I am not quoting exactly. When I find the poem, I will give the exact quotes. It was somewhat to this effect: The child came to me and opened his palms. There were leaves of grass in it. He asked-what is this? How could I answer the child?--Just a side note.

Arun Gaur
http://tripolia-indianlandscapeimages.com
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Alain

Can't help it. I join again. Again the lines from 1855 edition of Walt Whitman's monumental long poem "Leaves of Grass" (more that 1200 lines) come to my mind. I am not quoting exactly. When I find the poem, I will give the exact quotes. It was somewhat to this effect: The child came to me and opened his palms. There were leaves of grass in it. He asked-what is this? How could I answer the child?--Just a side note.

Arun Gaur
http://tripolia-indianlandscapeimages.com

That sums up Georg Bush and the other people who are bewildered by biology and have really no idea of genetics, evolution is "anti christian" and photosynthesis is for "tree-huggers". My 2 12 year old grandson knows more than they do on green plants and sunlight, LOL! We have an enormous gap between knowledge and getting it into the heads of most folk.

After the wonderful questioning of children is stamped out in schools where everything is learned off by heart in order to pass narrowly framed exams and "conform", we are left, in the extreme, with republicans in the USA and conservatives in the U.K. and God knows what else in the rest of the planet.

Artists still ask questions. Scientists still ask questions. People with social consciences still ask questions. However, mostly people ask that to only themselves.

Here, as in other online fora, the basic fault folks have is inactivity and lack of questioning. The answer we enthusiasts often follow what the latest and best and decide we "need it to be a success! All we have to do then to be making great progress to out goal is to walk in like sheep into photography stores and buy the best equipment we'll mostly never master or use! So what to do if if you want something and really do need it?

With printers, right now, it's a crying shame that there are likely, more Epsons with full ink tanks at this moment or sitting idle, than printers being used to actually make prints that get delivered to a willing client! They can be had for a song. Just be prepared to clean the entire set of tubes out you will have a perfectly good 44 inch printer for about $500-1200 and depending on how you are going to pick it up, there may be freight. You might even get to take it for free just to reclaim the space it takes up, LOL! If you are around Los Angeles, hire Will Thompson as your guide and he'll get you a printer and if you like prepare it for you. (I didn't ask him, but I know he's a sucker for helping folk out!).

The folk that bought these neglected monsters didn't ask the right questions and ended up owning "stuff". That's the second more common failure in photography after not using one's camera! Hello everyone, the object here is to make great pictures and then sell your "stuff" to people with money or else at least get it to show on walls.

Asher
 

Mike Shimwell

New member
...We have an enormous gap between knowledge and getting it into the heads of most folk.

After the wonderful questioning of children is stamped out in schools where everything is learned off by heart in order to pass narrowly framed exams and "conform",

Hi Asher

Read any Ivan Illich:) he discussed the impact of the school system on learning quite extensively, though was never mainstream and coming from a different direction.

Mike
 

Mike Shimwell

New member
Hello everyone, the object here is to make great pictures and then sell your "stuff" to people with money or else at least get it to show on walls.

Asher

Yep, use your camera and make great pictures. Selling them is a bonus that should not replace making great pictures as a priority for most of us. Of course, there's also 'THE ART QUESTION' and a lot of 'art photography' may not be a 'great picture' in isollation, but be an important piece of a body or collection of work.

Whatever, make some pictures;) and don't underestimate the space that free or cheap 44 inch printer will take up in your house...

Mike
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Mike Shimwell;99839 Whatever said:
So Mike,

What printer would you think is the most practical for someone just starting to sell work? Wouldn't a 17" printer cover most work. One could print longer and really have a good output for a small gallery. If one is getting orders, an occasional giant print can be made by a pro lab.

I follow the Yahoo group of Large Format Printers and they seem to have no end of problems, LOL!

Asher
 
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