View Full Version : use of limited edition elsewhere

20-Oct-2009, 09:32
I was wondering if anyone had an answer to this one...

I have limited edition prints is it acceptable to use any of these images in mass produced items such as books, calenders, postcards etc. Is there a set way of doing things with this or is it up to the artist to make his own terms and conditions on this.

I ask because I have some images that are limited edition but I would also like to use them in a short run calender. If I put a note about this on my website would that be acceptable?

Any advice would be most appreciated.

20-Oct-2009, 10:20
"Limited edition" is the generic variant of Franklin Mint - buy cheap and for entertainment, decoration and rapid disposal only.

20-Oct-2009, 10:22
Thank you Sevo - very helpful

20-Oct-2009, 11:28
;-) Seriously - if you label something "limited edition" nowadays it is implicitly tagged as "marketed towards the beginning amateur collector".

If you have reasons to believe that your sales strategy floods the market potentially depreciating your work, you need some more stringent reason why your work cannot be reproduced in arbitrary numbers than "my publisher said so for marketing reasons" - produce output though a printing method not suitable for large editions or in formats too big and expensive for the bottom feeders. Or embrace the crowd and try to become so popular that the market swallows large editions without a hitch...

Besides that, it is usually assumed that the limitation is restricted to the given size and medium, and does not pertain at all to mass media reproduction - if the calendar is offset or inkjet printed vs. your regular silver edition, or much smaller, there is no reason to worry. Well, unless you manage to affront your editor, curator and publisher by publishing on your own or through another company...

21-Oct-2009, 12:24
Limited Edition has become a marketing ploy to garner higher profits for a piece of reproduced artwork. So I think you need to ask yourself do you want these images to be truly limited? And how would those who invested in this limited imagery feel about excess images floating about?

In the 70s I worked with a publisher who publish limited edition books. After the run, he would have the plates, negatives, artboards (pre-"files" method of conveying images to printing plate) make-readies, and over prints destroyed, literally. They would be shredded, and the paper and film would be sent to the incinerator. This made the books truly limited: if you did not buy one of the 1,000 copies he printed for sale (he also printed 60 copies for publisher's use), then you were out of luck in owning that piece.

Then there's the Franklin Mint model. Their's is really more of a "limiting" edition. They would go to publish a book, and they would take pre-orders for the book. If they pre-sold, let's say, 381,229 books, then the edition was closed at 381,229 pieces. They would not reprint after that, since they saturated the market with "limiteds" up front.

Lastly there's a "limiting run" model. I worked for a fine art publisher in the 90s. We would print 500 pieces of an image, and then sell them as 1 of 500, 2 of 500...399 of 500, etc. If the run of 500 ran out (a rareity), we would go back to reprint and start the process over, this time numbering them 501 of 1,000, 502 of 1,000...799 of 1,000, etc. What we did not do was number the pieces until they sold. If after a certain period of time, like 18 months, if the edition did not sell out (as was the case with most pieces), we would move the prints to the "open market" version and sell them off a deep discounts. The "collectors" had a numbered print with a Certificate of Authenticity (another bogus marketing tool) and was led to believe their prints were more valuable than the open market version. In reality they were one in the same.

So I guess you need to ask yourself what your intent is: to limit the imagery to a select few who pay a premium, or piss 'em off by plastering the images on mugs and calendars (but generate much needed revenue in this day and age!).

My dos centavos...