Original New Orleans Art by Debbie Ainsworth

Art Snobbery – Part 1

The Art world is full of snobbery. Usually it manifests as artists looking down their noses at certain types of art and dismissing it as something less than what they’ll describe as “real art.” You see this kind of snobbery aimed at the work of Norman Rockwell, Thomas Kinkade, and Margaret Keane. Art snobs say the aesthetic appeal of these artists is diminished simply because of their popularity.  Oh, they’ll throw out a lot of excuses … for instance, Rockwell’s work is often dismissed as propaganda art for obvious reasons. But let’s face it, propaganda art is, by its very nature, popular. So the art snob’s biggest gripe is that regular people like it.

Anyone who follows this blog knows that I’ve been out of the art game for awhile, and I’m trying to fulfill a dream of making a living with my art. People who know me personally, know that I’m the cautious sort, and I like to research everything to death to make sure I’m doing it right. While in that pursuit, I ran into a few instances of Art Snobbery.

When I decided to offer Collector’s Limited Edition (shameless plug) prints, I wanted to make sure that I was signing and numbering them correctly. I came across this website of a printmaking artist. (The artist makes each print by running it through a press by hand.)  The article itself was interesting. For instance I found out that prints are traditionally signed in pencil. Since I’m not doing hand drawn prints, I dug into the comments section looking for someone with a situation similar to mine, and that’s when I came across a little bit of art snobbery.

Someone asked about certificates of authenticity for fine art prints of her original paintings. Bingo! That’s exactly what I wanted to know! The printmaker’s response began by explaining the difference between her own fine art hand drawn prints and ‘art reproductions’ (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Then she complained about buyers not understanding that her prints were real, while the others were just copies of an original. Again, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but she just wished artists selling reproductions would do their part to educate buyers.  She admitted that reproductions can be appealing and while there’s nothing wrong with artists wanting to sell them, well, they’re not REAL prints. They don’t take the time, nor the discipline, and a third party is involved (professional printer).

Despite her protests, it really became clear that she DID think something is wrong with reproductions. No matter how good the quality of the paper or printer, it’s just not as good as her fine art prints. Now, technically, she has a point in that her type of printmaking is a lot more process intensive. However, the work I put into painting the original, and then getting the print to look as much like it as possible, is just as intensive.

Personally, I think the printmaker is fighting a losing battle. The times they are a changing, and for most of the world a print is something that comes out of an inkjet. Still, I don’t want to confuse anyone, so I’m making my own tradition. I decided to distinguish my Fine Art Prints by signing them in blue ink on the right side, putting the numbering and date on the left, and not putting the title in the center. I’m using blue ink for two reasons. One, it’s difficult to duplicate. Two, it’s a nod to my days as a real estate secretary … happy days, so it’s a bit personal too. And I’m still calling them prints, because that’s what they are. Plus, the word ‘print’ has fewer letters than the word ‘reproduction,’ and that matters with character limits on titles and descriptions. So there. 🙂

… to be continued.