Original New Orleans Art by Debbie Ainsworth

To Print or Not to Print – Learning How to Sell Prints of Original Artwork

I have a problem, but it’s a great problem to have. My art is selling faster than I can produce it, which is great! However, my ultimate goal is to make a living as a professional artist. Until I can command thousands of dollars for my art or work a lot faster, I will have to sell prints of my originals in order to achieve my goal. Okay, so I’m going to sell prints. Yep. That’s what I’m going to do. –Crickets– Um, I really don’t know how to do that.

Being the organized creature that I am, my first step was production. How do I get prints made? After some trial and error, I found a great local printer I can work with, but I am limited to only two sizes for my prints. What do I print it on? I want my prints to stand out from the crowd, and I don’t want them to look like I printed them myself at home. So, I opted to use heavy, linen textured paper, which looks great for most of my work. For the rest I offer smooth, white cardstock. Decisions made, that takes care of production.

Next comes presentation and shipping. I wanted my prints to look great as soon as a buyer sees them in person. I wanted the buyer to feel the value of the art because I handled it as if it were valuable. To that end, I located backing boards and presentation bags. Next comes shipping, and I pride myself on my packaging. I do my utmost to make sure the art will not be damaged. In the case of prints it means layers of stiff cardboard for padding, a layer of moisture protection (plastic wrap), more stiff cardboard for the box, then wrapping it all up in brown paper.

Production and shipping taken care of, the next step is figuring out pricing and editions. I want to make my art affordable to everyone. As an artist, I love the idea of as many people as possible enjoying my work. But, I worry about devaluing my art by offering it too cheaply. I am so very fortunate as to have a collector, and I don’t want to make her investment in my originals seem a pointless expense, since so many copies of them abound.

My problem becomes, can I continue to provide valuable, collectable originals and affordable prints, while making a living off of my artwork at the same time? The answer is … I don’t know; but here’s what I’ve decided to do about it.

I’m going to offer Originals, Limited Edition Prints, and Open Edition Prints. Originals will be hand-signed and dated, and will come with a signed Certificate of Authenticity. Limited Edition Prints will come in multiple sizes per image, will be hand-signed and dated, will come with a signed Certificate of Authenticity, and will be numbered. Once that edition runs out, there will be no more. Open Edition Prints will be neither signed, dated, nor numbered, and will not come with a Certificate of Authenticity.

I am currently working on the Certificate of Authenticity, and will mail them out to those who have already purchased my originals. Thoughts?