One of my traveling companions took this picture of me blogging in a motel room.
The idea that something is an original print is a lie agreed to, in the contemporary art environment. All of the limited editions are limited only by the willingness of the printer to continue feeding paper into the machine, or the belief an artist or dealer has in how many of a given image they can sell.
I suppose it is good that they are signed and numbered, not because that confers any legitimacy but because it allows us to spot the reproductions. The idea of signing and numbering prints and thinking of them as original came from artist pulled etchings. Etching plates of copper wore as they were printed and therefore the size of an edition was "limited" by the ability of the ever degrading plate to continue to yield clear and salable prints. However today's printing methods, lithography, serigraphy and giclee are not constrained by these problems and are only limited because the maker chooses to make a finite number, not that he could make an infinite number anyway.
An etching is its own work of art, the artist makes the plate and prints or has a master printer pull an edition of prints, It is not a photographic reproduction of an existing painting. Most contemporary prints are actually reproductions of existing paintings by mechanical means. They are "prints", but so are pages from a magazine, or the label on a can from the supermarket. The people marketing these original prints" are capitalizing on misunderstandings the general public has.
For the public an image is an image, the difference between a painting and a photographic print is negligible. The dealers in "original" prints have been working to blur this line for several generations now. People, at least many people, just don't grasp the difference and if they do, they still want a picture by a famous artist like Juan Miro or Picasso.They want that big name to feel safe in their investment, and ironically that is what leads them to the dubious investment in an "original" print.
Sometimes they buy by subject, they are looking for a painting of a wood duck with a lot of russet colors in it and a driftwood frame. They find a print of that and are assured by the dealer that it is an investment ant they buy it. Often they could have had a poster of equal quality and by a better artist at the local museum for the amount they just spent in sales tax.
When I had my gallery in Rockport I routinely had people come in who told me that they had bought a painting by a certain artist who paints quaint English villages filled with radium colored flowers. Before I later quit the practice, I would gently explain to them that they had bought a print of a painting, essentially a photograph of a painting and not the painting itself, it was a mass produced imitation of the actual work of art. It took a lot of explaining but eventually they understood. However as the conversation continued they gradually returned to referring to it as a painting. They couldn't hold the idea in their minds that it was a print. The idea ran out their ears like sand. This artist and others before him had discovered this phenomenon and exploited it.
NOW I TELL THEM THAT THIS ARTIST IS TO PAINTING WHAT HUMMEL IS TO SCULPTURE.
Does this mean that selling reproductions of your art is bad? No I don't think so, but there are some ethical guidelines to which I think you should adhere. Tomorrow I will pick up here and continue.