Are You a “PRINTS CHARMING”?… by Roy Mackey

     Or do you know a “Prints Charming”? Of course you do, especially if you’re Canadian! They live everywhere even here in Vancouver from the Eastside all the way to West Vancouver. (Strangely though I have heard rumor there are more in West Vancouver than other areas.) They are very easy to identify if you can get inside their house since they have prints all over their walls. The real true blooded ones will have nothing but prints and often those are only from a numbered series. The lower the number the more impressive it is they will tell you though I am not sure why really. Oh the print store will have reasons after all they are selling them. Some of the lower class or un-educated “Prints Charmings” will only have posters but that is because it is all they want to afford and they often see no difference. They might be onto something…

     The nice thing about prints from a numbered series is the fact that the art has to be good since there were obviously others who bought them also. Of course the same applies to posters since they would not have made them in the first place if other people did not want them also. This is what makes buying prints so safe since you do not have to trust your own preferences. It also takes away the risk of looking like a fool which could be possible when buying real art.

     Personally though I have observed most all prints are not much better than those big, woody, dry, hollow, tasteless, irradiated strawberries they sell us at Safewaste! We all know they are a total waste of money yet we see them and sure enough pop them in our basket. Who cares what they taste like after all they look great don’t they! I will tell you one thing they look a hell of a lot better than those out of this world delicious organic and locally grown ones you come across occasionally. Man those things are to die for but often they will cost a little more than those California big red woodies so we pass them up. It is kind of strange why we deny ourselves the pleasure of the real thing so much these days. Maybe we just want to save money so we can buy more prints.

     I guess I should not be so cruel since a lot of the better prints these days are now called Giclee’s. Some are even “Archival” and respected by small town museums and touristy gift stores worldwide, though I would guess more likely in China than anywhere else. Like those strawberries it is almost impossible to tell the original from the print, or so they say. I prefer the term “Cliché’s” with these prints but then hey I am selling original art so don’t pay a lot of attention here. Though like my dad used to always say back on the farm “son they can call it manure or fertilizer or organic soil enhancer or what ever they want but in the end it is still plain ole bullshit”

     Recently I heard about a genius marketing scheme the print making business has come up with to help sell more of these fakes or shall I say prints. I guess it goes something like this, first an artist gets a limited series of prints made from their original artwork, anywhere from fifty to five thousand or whatever. The prices are set for the first quarter of the run at so much. After the first quarter of the series is sold then the price automatically jumps up to the second price level. Once all the prints in the second quarter are sold then the price jumps up to the even higher third quarter price and so on. Of course each price jump is substantial so if you BUY NOW while the print is still at the first quarter price you stand to make a huge profit, or so they say. If you buy more than one then you could even help speed up the jump to the next price level. Even better yet if you get just five people to buy the same print and then those five people got five people to buy the same print this would very quickly jump the price up to the next level.

     The trick is to get in on the ground floor or first level as in this case. It all rings of some kind of Amway multi-level or network marketing scheme to me but hey I guess it works.

     This concept makes a lot of sense since a lot of art buyers buy for investment only. Of course the buyer would likely be a little disappointed if he tried to sell the print at the higher price level later on. First off the print shop could sell it for them but their sales commission would likely eat up most of profit. Not to mention by the then the artist would have a new series that the shop would be pushing instead of your “last months print” It sounds good on paper though.

     If you doubt some of this check the classifieds or Ebay to see how many buyers are trying to sell these limited editon prints, you will be surprised. Especially at the cheep prices you can get these “GREAT INVESTMENTS” for.

     Anyway it is not like prints are all that bad but why settle for second best when you can have original work instead? Not one… I mean… not many of us would buy artificial gold if it was half price yet we do it with art? I guess a few would justify that real gold was too expensive so had to settle for the “fools” gold at a cheaper price. At least that is the excuse often used when buying prints.

     I don’t know about you but if I cannot afford a Rolls Royce I am not going to buy an old Volkswagen beetle and bolt on some parts to make it look like a Rolls. Some do though and that is why the company that made those parts a few years back did quite well.

     None of this makes a lot of sense to me even though you can go to the supermarket and buy artificial vanilla for almost half the price of real vanilla. If we stop and think about it for awhile it is pretty crazy. Yet I bet they sell more artificial vanilla than the real stuff.

     So if you indulge in artificial vanilla, fake gold, virtual reality, “simulated” salt and vinegar chips, internet sex, faux finishes, Volkswagen Rolls Royce’s, and other safe products from the digital age then by all means don’t stop when it comes to art, prints will do you just fine.

     Though if you have a taste for the finer things in life then of course only original art will do. The disappointing thing though is that you will not be able to pick it up at wallymart so will have to do some looking. You may also have to depend on your own judgement on what is good for you if you want to score it cheep. For more on the trick to buying good art cheep watch for my upcoming post, “Scoring Good Art Cheep”

IMPORTANT NOTE: Of course for any “fire and brimstoners” out there the above would obviously not apply to photographic prints since photography is an art form in itself that consists of only prints. There was a time, pre-digital that if you liked a photograph and trusted the artist you could buy the negative also. You would then know that you had the one and only original. Of course with the digital age upon us it only takes the push of a button to have five thousand “cliché’s” out there of the same image in no time. Now because of this you have to be sure about trusting your photographer that you are getting an actual limited edition.


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