'One-point' Lessons

Lesson #27: Selling reproductions of your art ...

(contributed by Bill Ritchie)

Someone asked: "Is it helpful or harmful to have postcards, letterheads, reproduction prints, etc. made from your original art? This might help become more recognized, but may harm sales of the originals."

This is a helpful/harmful kind of question that may be answerable by storytelling. One time I met an artist who was passing through town. He introduced himself and I said, "Oh, yeah, I think I saw your work reproduced in a catalog, didn't I?"

He told me, "You know, that reproduction has opened more doors for me than you can imagine!" As it turned out, it was a black and white print and it reproduced easily and well. He had achieved what they call 'brand recognition.'

Another artist whose works look like photographs is very well known because, not only are his images fascinating, surrealistic images of dreamy settings, they look at home in mass reproduction.

So my opinion is that it can be helpful. It can be harmful if the work looks awful in reproduction. One thing to avoid is black and white reproductions of color images. Ugh! Another is scale - a small reproduction of an image that is large, or the other way around.

If you control the reproduction, such as in a postcard, business card, letterhead or boxed set, it is less likely to harm your name. Sure, a few people may frame your reproductions, but they probably couldn't afford to buy your originals anyway.

And the best part is they may become loyal supporters. If they put your image on their wall, or stick it on your refrigerator door, other people will see it. Is that bad? One person I know has selected images made into cloisonne pins which he sends out as holiday gifts. No harm there.