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Should you have Limited Edition or Open Edition Giclée prints

giclée print of colourful flowers

When it comes to choosing what type of edition giclée prints to produce it can feel a little overwhelming. Hopefully we can break it down for you, using our years of experience as a fine art printers working with artists and photographers. We’ll discuss more about each type of edition and whether there are any other giclée print editions you could consider. Also we’ll look at the pros and cons of the different edition prints and what you need to think about, depending upon which type of print edition you choose.

Basically limited edition or open edition giclée prints are the same whether you’re printing, giclée prints of your art or photos. So the same information we provide here applies to whether you are an artist or a photographer.

giclée photo print of wavesWhat are Limited Edition giclée prints

They are literally as they are described ‘Limited’. This means that you agree a set print run limit for the edition and once all the prints of the print run have sold, then there will be no more prints of that particular artwork or photograph. You cannot take the original image and crop or just print a specific area of the image as a new limited edition print run, after the original limited edition print run has sold out. This is basically defrauding your customers and in the long term you’ll be devaluing your own prints and your reputation.

Also you cannot use your image to create mugs, coasters or phone cases, when it is a Limited Edition. Buyers who thought they had bought an exclusive Limited Edition print, won’t be happy to see the same image suddenly appearing on mass produced mugs.

You can learn more about Limited Edition Prints here

Usually Limited Edition giclée prints are accompanied with a Certificate of Authenticity, which outlines the number of the Edition print run and will also state what number the print actually is out of the total run. A certificate of Authenticity provides your customers with added reassurance that the artist or photographer is making a commitment to their buyers.

You can learn more about Certificates of Authenticity here

At the Artists Print Room we can provide Certificates of Authenticity for your limited editions that are giclée printed by us and these will have our embossing stamp and our accreditations and reputation to support the exclusivity and authenticity of your limited edition prints. Please feel free to Get in touch we’re always happy to help.


Pros and Cons of Limited Edition Prints

One of the benefits of limited edition prints is that your buyers will feel reassured that they are buying something special. A giclée print with only a limited number available has an exclusive feel for your buyers. The fact that the Limited Edition is exclusive also means you can sell at a higher price, than you would an open edition print. So you should make a bigger profit margin on Limited Edition prints compared to Open Edition prints.

The downside to Limited Edition prints is that you can only print a limited number. So if you had an image that turned out to be very popular and sold out quickly, you couldn’t re-print it or put the image on anything else to make more money. It is very hard to know in advance which image of artwork or photo will turn out to be popular. Imagine if John Constable’s The Haywain had been a Limited Edition print. In 2005 it was voted the 2nd greatest painting in Britain in a public vote by the BBC. Ironically when John Constable originally exhibited the painting at the Royal Academy in 1821, it failed to find a buyer.


art giclée print of woman in goldWhat are Open Edition giclée prints

Basically open edition means there is no limit on the amount of giclée prints you can print. Artists and photographers don’t always mention that their prints are open edition, they usually just call them fine art prints or giclée prints.

The image for your open edition prints can also be used on mugs, coasters, tea towels and anything else you can think of. Usually these prints aren’t signed or have a certificate of authenticity, though some artists and photographers are now starting to sign their open edition prints.

Pros and Cons of Open Edition Prints

The benefit of open edition prints is that they give you creative freedom to do what you like with your image. You can print any sizes or number of prints you like and you can also print the image on any products. This can be more beneficial financially if you have a very popular image.

The problem with open edition prints is that your buyers can feel that the prints have no real value, no exclusivity. Some buyers love to be able to collect a range of products with the same image and then there are buyers who hate to see the print they bought also appearing on mugs etc…



Overall which is best

There is no one overall winner to choose, both types of edition have their uses. It is probably wise not to choose one type of edition for all your giclée prints of various images. Bear in mind though there are artists and photographers who only exclusively produce Limited Edition prints.

It comes down to how much freedom you want with your image. You may think certain images will suit being on products as well as prints. So in this case it might be wise to choose open edition prints for these images. So which do you want, flexibility or exclusivity ?

Alternative Edition type

There is a middle ground of sorts, where you can have creative freedom and offer something that appears exclusive. This is where you choose to produce open edition prints, but you call it a special edition or anniversary edition. As part of your special edition you could offer giclée prints that have been embellished for example, with gold leaf. There is a lot of creative freedom with embellished prints. You can use all types of art mediums, though some will work better on certain giclée papers. If you choose this option, it would mean you would have an image that would be available to your buyers as a special edition giclée print. It will have a slightly different look and feel to the original and feel special. This way you would still be able to use the original image for printing on other products.

Again this type of edition will work for certain images. If you use a special edition for every image and you don’t actually make any embellishments or add something to the print, your buyers may become disillusioned with your concept. They may not see what is actually special about it.

Final Note on giclée print Editions

Whatever type of edition you choose, make it clear what it is you are offering. Don’t say it is Limited Edition, then print the image on other products. Don’t offer embellished prints with hardly any embellishing. Artists and photographers have to build a relationship with their long term collectors and part of that relationship is clear communication, that your buyers can trust. Good communication is key to marketing your giclée prints.

If you’d like to discuss what editions options work best for you, then please feel free to Get in touch




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