Edition Printing

Edition Sizes And Numbering

It is of course your choice exactly how you offer your work - and there are many possibilities. This is a business decision each artist must make for themselves, although we're happy to offer advice of course!

Here are a few options - you can use just one of these approaches, or a combination of approaches to effectively offer work to different market segments:

Approaches to Editioned Prints

Here are just a few of the many approaches to selling editioned prints you could choose from:

  • Unsigned, unnumbered prints at a small size and a low price
  • Numbered, open editions - each print is numbered
  • Basic signed prints, no numbering
  • Embossed or not embossed - either with your own mark or our studio mark
  • Limited edition prints with hand number and a digital signature
  • Limited edition prints with a hand signature and number - we generally recommend starting with this approach for reproductions of your major original pieces
  • Timed editions - prints offered for sale for a limited time period only, e.g. 24 hours only.

All of these options have their merits - the one thing that is most important is to be clear and consistent about what you are offering and do it with complete integrity.

Do not, for example, start off with a too small limited edition and then suddenly change the edition limit when you realise you have a big seller. Buyers hate this and they will talk about it publicly if you do this, so make sure you stick to your promises no matter what!

The beauty of modern digital reproduction, apart from being simply the highest quality print making process available, is that you don't have to print whole edition runs in a single go. You can essentially Print on Demand which can be a way to reduce the risk and is extremely cost saving for the artist. Once you begin to sell, we do recommend you keep a small stock of your reproduction prints on hand (rather than print to order) - as it's always much easier to sell something you have available straight away!

You needn't print all 25 or all 100, or whatever your edition size is, in one go - just simply print in small lots - we're happy to even just print singles if you like!

If you do choose to offer limited edition prints, you will need to keep track of this. We recommend you keep a database of all your sales with the names, print number, and email addresses as an absolute minimum! Simply sign and number each print as you get it and add all the extra customer information to your database as you sell it. Like any business, a large proportion of your sales will come from repeat customers, so creating a database of this information is key to your longer term success in print sales.

Edition Sizes

This is tricky, but ultimately it's about finding a balance between limiting your potential income - you don't want to have a runaway success and not be able to take reasonable advantage of your success - and creating the appropriate sense of scarcity to promote a sense of urgency in your buyers.

The best advice is to start with modest edition sizes and offer bigger editions as you have more success. Limiting yourself to very small numbers like 5 or so is probably too severe a limit, as if you're fortunate you might have an early success. Starting with a number around 25 to 40 seems to work well in practise. If you DO sell out, it's a good thing - produce new work and set a higher edition number. But demonstrating to people you have successfully sold through editions only serves to heighten the sense of rarity of your future work, so selling out is a good thing. Indeed, some artists have been known to 'sell out' of a less popular work simply because they know they won't get many more sales anyway, and it helps promote the general sense of urgency with the works that follow.

You could take the attitude that limited editions make no sense in a digital world, and simply number your works. And this is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, but there's a reason almost all galleries insist on limited editions - because they tend to make a substantial difference in the number of sales you will make. Whether it's an artificial construct or not - people value rarity.

Once established, and given we live in a world with 7 billion people, editions of 200 - 300 are common for successful practising artists, but of course it can take years to develop the sort of following needed to consistently achieve sales at that level. Beyond that, if you're very successful, the sky is the limit. Some of our clients have offered timed editions, with almost 1500 prints being sold in the 24 hours the work was available. Obviously, that's an exception rather than the rule, but we can all dream!