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Pricing a Reproduction Run – by Robert Genn

Pricing a Reproduction Run
by Robert Genn

Yesterday, Susan Delaney of Red Deer, Alberta, Canada wrote, "I'm in the process of following up a commission with an order from the original customer for up to 200 reproductions of a painting, to be sold as a fundraiser for a not-for-profit organization. I've had the piece professionally photographed and I'm fairly confident in the giclee process, technical and quality issues, costs and project budgeting. These reproductions will be described and documented accurately to potential buyers. I'd really value guidance on my own markup and pricing."

Thanks, Susan. I bend the rules for repros for charity fundraisers. Sometimes I give reproduction rights for free after selling the original, other times I take a modest amount--often ten percent after the cost of the reproductions. The charity picks up all the printing costs. Tip: Keep your editions small. Big-volume runs cheapen your art. If the run is to be called a "limited edition," then you need to sign, name and number.

Regarding pricing, I find it best to keep them low. For example, on a recent one where the original sold for $12,000, I suggested the prints be $400 including the frame. This ensured that the repro run of 150 sold out, made a few friends and did some modest good in the community.

You must know that in most areas the bloom is off the rose for both giclees and photo-lithos. It takes a pretty gung ho and active charity to sell them these days. You need to make sure the charity has enough volunteers to make things happen. While no one can be as financially motivated as those gallerinas in a Thomas Kinkade franchise, unless your work is drop dead appealing--and the charity has spotless credentials (minimal costs of fundraising)--it generally takes real community effort.

A couple of years ago I received a call from a friend who said there was a pile of my reproductions on a table in a "going out of business" furniture store. I drove around and found about fifty leftovers from a fundraiser that had somehow got in there. The charity had originally asked $1800 each for them, a price I queried at the time. I bought the works for ten bucks each.

Further, the loophole for investing in big-run reproductions and getting them evaluated beyond the investor's costs has been closed in most jurisdictions. This was a rummy business to start with, and has cost a few taxpayers some anguish, as well as a loss of greenery.

Best regards,


PS: "There's been million-seller books and million-seller CDs. But there hasn't been, until now, million-seller art." (Thomas Kinkade)

Esoterica: A benefit from charitable repro runs is the entitlement to "Artist's proofs," generally an additional 10% of the run. These can be archived by the artist or used as gifts or donations to other charities. Having them as an asset can become a taxable event which, in most cases, is minimal. My best tip: Never do anything charitable for publicity, great financial gain, or for tax reasons. Give where your heart is.

Robert Genn has given ARTAZINE permission to publish from his twice weekly newsletter. For more of his fantastic insight, visit his site at www.painterspost.com

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