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Thread: Limited Edition... any real meaning?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Oct 1997

    Limited Edition... any real meaning?

    Below is some info on Thomas Kinkade "limited edition" prints. We in the LF community have often debated this idea yet I have seen no one who takes it to this extreme. Even going to the 'DNA coded ink" for signing prints (using the signing machine) so the prints can be authenticated.
    So much for the idea of exclusivity or even doing your own printing. If I were to attempt to make 500 of the same print, contact in silver or pt/pd hand coated, it would take a long time. I just dont' have that time if I am to print more than one image a month.
    I am not saying limited edition work is positive or negative. We all make our choices & market the work as we see fit. But advertising a 'limited edition' and then having numbers that are so far from 'limited' as to be laughable seems to me to be dishonest.

    Just framed a 'limited edition' print for a customer by a certain well-known artist. I've framed other work by this artist before, but this time I really read the Certificate of Authenticity and it stated the following:

    Standard Numbered edition-Canvas: 2950
    Standard Numbered edition-paper: 2850
    Artist Proof-Canvas: 590
    Artist Proof-paper: 570
    Gallery Proof-canvas: 1100
    Gallery proof-paper: 1000
    Publisher proof-canvas: 530
    Publisher proof-paper: 520
    International proof-canvas: 590
    International proof-paper: 570
    Atelier National-canvas: 400
    Atelier National-paper: 400
    Atelier International-canvas: 400
    Atelier International-paper: 400
    Renaissance Edition-canvas: 240
    Studio proof-canvas: 120
    Studio proof-paper: 120
    Master Edition-canvas: 1

    BUT that's not all...
    that's just for the 24x30 size that this picture was. It's also available in 20x24 AND 16x20.
    The certificate states total worldwide edition size is..........get ready.............

    "I have one in my shop now with a number of "2875/3500-I". And I have seen several with the letter(s) after like ZZ and II after the number.

    That leads me to believe that the total size of the edition could be 3500 x 26 x 26 = 2,366,000 on just this one signed and numbered edition-paper. Crap, no wonder he don't hand sign the prints."

  2. #2
    Moderator Ralph Barker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1998
    Rio Rancho, NM

    Limited Edition... any real meaning?

    If these numbers define "limited", my mind is too boggled to frame a comment. ;-)

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Mar 2005

    Limited Edition... any real meaning?


    Why didn't I think of that? I can get around my previous edition limits by just printing on a different paper! It's genius!


  4. #4

    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    San Joaquin Valley, California

    Limited Edition... any real meaning?

    DNA ink?? Wow! If the Artist signed his name in blood he'd no doubt be enemic after that many limited editions.

    It kind of gives the impression that the 'art world' is full of hucksters and scallawags---probably a good place for them too since they can't do much damage or hurt anyone real bad (which could happen easily in a real trade like being an automobile mechanic or an electrician)

    I own a few limited edition prints, but I bought them because I like the way they look, not as an investment. Hey aren't all an artist's prints limited? One's death will certainly put the kabosh on One's darkroom productivity.

    That DNA ink thats wierd!

    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Northern California

    Limited Edition... any real meaning?

    Didn't Sadam's ivoried halls have extensive caligraphy of "deeds" etc done in ink containing his blood? So maybe it's not such a novel idea . . . .

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Mar 2005

    Limited Edition... any real meaning?

    I've gone to scientific notation after my roman numeral system went to 3 pages.

    Mark Carney

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Apr 2004

    Limited Edition... any real meaning?

    In this digital age I look forward to the buyer who will purchase the original negative along with what I believe at the moment is my best print. Thereafter, every print will clearly be derivative, for better or worse.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Mar 2004

    Limited Edition... any real meaning?

    Kinkade is probably the best-known living painter in the United States.

    By sheer number, I'm guessing Kinkade is the top-selling, or one of the top-selling, living painters worldwide; I certainly can't think of anyone who sells more. (Those of you who live in other countries can look at his stuff and scratch your heads in wonder at those silly Americans!)

    Not making excuses for the ridiculousness of TK's various "limited" editions (he has teams of painters in regional studios who hand-paint various flourishes onto mass-printed canvases in a stepped-pricing scheme and he has who-knows-how-many dedicated "galleries" [stores in shopping malls] around the country). I'm merely pointing out that he's a special case because he has a huge cult following. Many people consider him a lone voice of beauty in an contemporary art world run amok.

    Doesn't work for me, but it apparently does for an awful lot of buyers. And when you get into the kind of sales numbers Kinkade's gotten into (tens and tens of thousands of "paintings," apart from literally millions of books and calendars and knick-knacks), you have to figure out tiny, and silly, ways to differentiate one version from the next.

    The guy's an industry. Not just a brand, but an industry. I don't think anyone else does anything remotely close.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    San Francisco

    Limited Edition... any real meaning?

    People who specifically buy limited editions are buying something other than, or at least along with, art. Call it aura, or a collectable, or an investment. Some might call it a gamble. The rules, implied or specific, are marketplace-driven, with all its inherent speculative risks.

    In most non-photo editions, the number can have useful meaning. If you buy an etching, you know what you are getting, a print from an acid-etched plate of copper. Now, such plates wear out, slowly; presumably the first X hundred are clean, the next Y hundred (if any) are marginally acceptable, and the remaining Z hundred (presumably suppressed) are crap. Then the plate is bathed flat for re-use: no more prints, ever. Hopefully, when you go into a gallery and see exactly one copy of the edition, say labelled 25/150, it is within your wherewithal to determine that 150 is probably an entirely clean run for a copper etching (hey, it might very well be!), and this one is well to the front of that run, and thus can be presumed to represent the artist's intent very closely, and be a top quality example of the printing process.

    Photo editions don't have this restriction, since with care, negs and digital files basically never wear out: the 100,000th print can be absolutely identical, indistinguishable from the first. So for photography, the edition is a marketing tool, used for driving price up. Or down, sometimes, through honestly presented economies of scale.

    QT Luong,
    would you care to comment? I believe you create editions of various kinds of the same image, presented and priced differently. It would be great to hear an insider's version of this issue.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    California - Silicon Valley

    Limited Edition... any real meaning?

    T. Kinkade has a factory near where i live.
    the entrance was landscaped to look like one of his paintings.
    He's also designed a suburb that looks like one of his paintings, but i don't know if it's been built.
    I'd say he is a marketing genius, more than an artistic genius.
    It would be interesting to see if any of his works hold their value in 25-50 years.

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