Timothy Hawes Stahl IMAGERY
Everyone seems to have an opinion on limited editions. Some people I have spoken with seem to think that it is a good idea, while others seem to feel that there are too many problems associated with it. I believe that limited editions, while fine for some people, will not be used where my work is concerned. I personally feel that limited editions are, well, limiting. If I limit a particular image, does it mean that I will only print a particular number in any size, or a particular number in one size, then another, and another. I have seen one or two artists who say that they are making a limited edition of a particular image. Then that particular image becomes really popular, and sells out instantly. It was a small edition, so the artist feels like (s)he could have made a lot more money if it had been a larger edition; what to do? Then, this particularly popular image seems to re-emerge with the same limited edition number, but in a different size. So, effectively the initial edition size has doubled. You get the idea. A similar problem to the pervious artist who has a popular image, what if (s)he slightly alters the image? It's basically the same, but instead of a horizontal image, the new one is a vertical. The image is different, but basically the same; however, the edition size has again grown. Another problem is that I like to give prints away to friends and family (and even a charitable organization here and there). If the edition is limited, my tendency to share work might be stifled, and I do not want that to happen. There is also the change in how an artist works. An example of this would be to look at an early Ansel Adams print, and one from say twenty years later (assuming that the prints are from the same negative). Ansel Adams changed how he printed over the decades. If he had limited his images to a particular number of prints, then his development in style would have been limited. The other side of the limited edition argument is that if it does stay restricted, then there is a limited supply. Simple economics will show that with a limited supply, as demand grows, the price goes up. So, if a limited edition sells out, and there is still demand, the value of those images increases. This might be seen as a reward to people who saw the talent early, or as a form of investing by others. The artist, however, does not usually get to share in this increased value. In an attempt to share in this increase in value, some artists increase the initial sale cost as the edition sells out. Some artists say that they like limited editions because it forces them to make new work. Others say that they do not want to get stuck in the dark room printing old negatives, and not out making new negatives.
Here is how I intend to handle this problem: I will not limit any print editions. I will have a new image every other month (corresponding to an add in B&W Magazine). It will be for a particular price, as an example, say $150 for a particular size. After its time is over, and a new image of the month comes up, the former image will go into a portfolio where it will double in value, so now it's $300. Later in life, for example one year, it will have another increase, so now it's $450. You get the idea. As time goes on, the image sales price increases. If you were an individual who purchased the image at $150 in the first month, and a year later it is worth three times your initial investment (as an example) then it solves a number of problems. First, the customer knows that (s)he is making an investment in something that in theory should not loose value. If someone really wants a particular image five years down the road, it is available (though at a much higher cost). As the cost increases, the demand should decrease, thus I will not be slaving away in a darkroom over the same negative; allowing me to go out and make new negatives. It will also allow me to be a little altruistic with my images, and give them away without too much heartache.