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Thread: Inkjet, posters, and limited edition prints

  1. #1
    Founder QT Luong's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 1997
    San Jose, CA

    Inkjet, posters, and limited edition prints

    What would you think if someone started offering the same image as limited edition prints (at a very high price),
    and as a reproduction posters (at a very low price) ? This is done all the time, and there is no confusion between
    a photograph and something that is mass-printed with ink, right ?

    Now what if the limited edition print was a Lightjet (a photo-sensitive process)
    and the posters would be a Epson ultrachrome print ?
    This is a process that photographers such as Joseph Holmes or
    our own Chris Jordan deem the best color print available, yet others in this forum
    call them "posters", or "photocopies". This scenario doesn't have to be limited to color (eg. the work of David Fokos).

  2. #2
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Albuquerque, Nuevo Mexico

    Inkjet, posters, and limited edition prints

    Wait a minute let find my fire extingusiher................

    at age 67
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep"

  3. #3

    Inkjet, posters, and limited edition prints

    Or, what if the 'limited edition print' was an inkjet print, and the poster was a mass produced reproduction a la the gelatin silver prints done by Lenswork, with digital contact negatives?

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    San Francisco Bay Area

    Inkjet, posters, and limited edition prints

    It boils down to making a distinction and a difference. A watercolourist of my aquaintance has either originals, or printed reproductions. The reproductions are not done with watercolours. Photography has a whole range of techniques that are very similar for reproduction. The difference lies in how much human manipulation goes into each stage, and the intrinsic expense of the method.

    I think the boundary between 'original' and 'reproduction' is always going to be fuzzy and subject to frenzied interpretation.

    Unless or until I have enough work with a strong popular demand that requires me to consider a two-tier reproduction method (don't hold your breath 8-) ), I think I will just watch the debate with amusement.

  5. #5

    Inkjet, posters, and limited edition prints

    You might as well reverse the scenario and offer the LightJets as the posters and the Ultrachromes as the limited edition prints. The LightJet process produces the best colour prints available on glossy media and the Ultrachrome process produces the best colour prints available on matte art papers. If you want to go into the business of mass producing and selling cheap posters then use the conventional processes used by poster companies.

    You'd probably sell lots of cheap posters and few if any limited edition prints. Frankly you’d need the reputation of the likes of Ansel Adams to sell the same image as both.

  6. #6

    Inkjet, posters, and limited edition prints

    Some galleries are already offering ink jet prints as "limited" editions, a good example is the present featured photographer at the

    Havent we had enough discussions about this? I thought most here agreed that the "limited" edition was a gallery gimmick which was started to supposedly create supply scarcity and thus giving reason for the high prices.

    I guess this ties in with the glicèe thread, if some guy is going to call his ink jet prints "platinum glicèe" or as Cone decided to start his false advertising by saying that pt/pd printing is dangerous, poisonous and it is too hard and rarely anybody is doing it any more and so his "digital platinum glicèe" is a better option, I have the same right to call them ink jet posters.

    I admit I started using the term "ink jet poster" to goad Dave, but it does has it's kernel of truth. A poster made with screens is just depositing ink on a paper through a printing plate, and ink jet print is depositing ink on a paper through a mechanical device like a printer and has more in common with the printing industry than with photochemical processes. Albeit a much higher quality one.

    But this is inmaterial, contrary to what many beleive here I am not antidigital, or anti ink jet prints. I say use whatever you like, but it irks me and many other of us who have chosen classical methods to see some people right out lying and trying to belittle traditional processes in an effort to elevate the perceived quality of their ink jet prints. As I keep saying and I wont stop saying it, it is time those using ink jet prints stand on their own two feet and accept both the benefits as well as the drawbacks of their chosen process without trying to make it look something that it is not. Lets be honest and accept that an ink jet print does not have the negative connotation it had 10 or 15 years ago where the quality was just not there. If anything, it is becoming the more prevalent medium in galleries. So then, why try and misrepresent them?

    I figure the lonegevity issues are between the photographer and the client, with the warning that promising ink jet prints to last 150+ years, when there is a chance they might not can only hurt you and those using this as their medium. If I was really anti ink jet prints, I would be the first one to be pushing that you guys claim the prints can last 500 years, after all the more incidents there are about ink jet prints fading in a few years or months could only benefit those of us who rely on processes with stablished and known longevity data, no?

    I am unsure as to what is really the point of your question or comment, personally I have a hard time paying $600 and above for ink jet prints just because they are big, but this is a personal choice. OTOH I would buy one of Foko's print in a second if I could afford it, even though in the end I am not sure Fuji Crystal archive prints will last longer than an ink jet print. The difference is that he makes no apologies for his prints, does not try to represent them as something they are not, does not come up with cutsy names to try and mislead the buyer. If you see any of his prints in a gallery it will be clearly labeled, "digital print on Fuji Crystal Archive" at least this has been the case for those I have seen in person.

    In the end, as long as there are people out there like Cone who are flat out lying about their inks and processes, there will some of us out there who will be just as strident in exposing them for what they are, snake oil salesman.

  7. #7

    Inkjet, posters, and limited edition prints

    Either type of process could be used to create images designated as "limited edition" and priced accordingly. Likewise, either type of process could be used to make images that are clearly identified as posters (e.g., with a large white border and your name printed on the bottom) and priced much lower. Because there is no universal agreement as to which process is inherently superior or more valuable (plus both cost about the same), I think it's the photographer's prerogative to decide what's best. IMHO this is more of a marketing/salesmanship issue than a quality or artistic issue.

  8. #8
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    USA, North Carolina

    Inkjet, posters, and limited edition prints

    What would you think if someone started offering the same image as limited edition prints (at a very high price), and as a reproduction posters (at a very low price) ?

    It depends on what they were actually offering. If the limited edition prints were of sufficient quality that they could command the high price, so be it. If the posters were of substantially lower quality, then they might have a go at it.

    What I think you are suggesting though, is that both the high priced version and the low priced version have the same quality level. You wouldn't be stupid enough to give more money for the same quality level would you? Then why do you think other people would???

    This limited edition thing comes primarily from galleries - it's the only real way they can make more than one sale of a painting. You sell the original for a very high price, and you sell reproductions at less than a tenth that price. We've all seen it. It makes some level of sense for both the artists and the galleries.

    But the limited edition model doesn't apply well to photography, no matter how the galleries try to "one size fits all" the problem. The deal with photography is that we can't sell the original (film or digital capture). We can only sell prints we make from the original (whatever technology you want to use), and there's really no end to the number of prints one can make. Even Jorge can make platinum print after platinum print if he wants to ;-)

    The technology with which we make these prints isn't really the issue (or is at best a side issue for angry photographers to make the "mine is better than yours" arguments). And the quality level of the prints is subjective, clearly. Most of us use the best process we can to produce the highest quality level we can. If the customer doesn't agree, they don't buy the print. It really is that simple.

    Bruce Watson

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Forest Grove, Ore.

    Inkjet, posters, and limited edition prints

    Whether it be limited editions of Lightjet, Ultrachrome, or quad-tones, I don't see much difference between these and limited editions of silver gelatin prints. They're all forms to which the following apply:

    > The artist can maintain sole control over reproduction.

    > Any number of reproductions can be generated.

    I see the decision of whether or not to limit the number of reproductions as part of the artistic expression of the artist. A work doesn't have the same impact if it's seen too often.

  10. #10

    Inkjet, posters, and limited edition prints

    We are fortunate to have a wide range of excellent output options today. Most of them offer excellent quality and the choice of which is 'better' is a mostly a matter of preference. As such, distinctions in value based on the output technology (with the exception of hand printed images of course) seems ludicrous to me.

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