Prints have always been a useful tool in the art world and are beneficial to both consumer and artists. They act as a perfect bridge between the realm of high art where originals can fetch exorbitant prices and the general public who also want access to great art in their homes. Of course like those buying originals, people who buy prints also do so for the investment potential. This works very well when prints are limited and only a small number of editions are made. What happens though if these prints are extended or re-released? At what point does the art market become saturated as a result of excess prints and what happens to their value?
It was recently announced that Castle Galleries would be releasing a new set of prints for this year’s round of Bob ‘Dylan’s Blank Series 2013’. A series that has been slightly re-branded and added to, consecutively each year since 2008. Dylan’s work proved highly popular in 2008 and his prints sold out quickly, helped by the fact that they were exclusive and the collection was unlikely to ever be repeated.
Each year 10 or so different images are released, editions of 295 together with a number of box sets which increase the actual number of signed pieces in circulation. Fast forward 5 years and now there must be 20,000 signed pieces! Now is this a large body of work? How collectable are the pieces? It’s well documented that Dali painted a picture virtually every single day of his life and there must be 10,000 Degar sketches in public and private collections. We know that prolific artist’s who produce vast amounts of work don’t necessarily dilute the market providing the work is credible and of course I’m now comparing originals to prints which again opens up avenues for another type of discussion.
Without drifting off topic I suppose the question still at large is, when does something exclusive become common place and is this really a problem? Most people who purchase a Dylan graphic do so because they either love the man himself or indeed his work. Although some may feel aggrieved if they bought a piece with investment in mind, however those that purchased because they loved the work are probably still in love with their particular piece that adorns there wall.
Some control is needed when it comes to prints, they can in some cases be very expensive to buy and it is up to both galleries and artists to be responsible and ensure that exclusivity is maintained in order to protect their customers investment. If limited edition runs and re-released time and time again it is only a matter of time before they become glorified posters that can be found across the nation. Issuing in abundance seems like a dangerous bubble that could burst at any time leading to an array of issues that could see consumers mistrust prints and even see them choosing other alternatives.