Saturday, October 27, 2007

Artists who "repaint" their originals

Today's post is a bit of a beef. While dealing with artistic and creative people can always be an interesting and challenging experience, the new "digital" opportunities have created a bit of a monster with some artists.
That monster is the apparent opportunity for many of them to re-create their paintings when reproducing them in digital form. Because the form is as accurate as it is and because there is a color correction phase that can involve manipulation of the image - there is a great temptation to play. I have heard things like - "I always wanted to go back and make that area of my painting lighter" or " I just want to add some more light green to that leaf - then it will be how I had hoped the painting would turn out". This process can also be costly and I know of very few artists prepared to pay the price - yet somehow feel they can demand it. It is time to return to a more sane view of digital reproductions! They are still just a poor substitute for an original! A print is just a print regardless of the fact that you call it a "Giclee"!

Is there anything wrong with succumbing to the temptation to play? Well my opinion is two-fold. Firstly, if people liked your painting enough to want a reproduction -why are you messing with that? Secondly, if you want to create a "product" that does not represent your original, then name it something else and don't sell it as a print of the original!

Certainly the reproduction process is not perfect and I still believe that the best reproduction can never match an original, although to many people's eye it will look almost identical. Therefore when we make a reproduction, we are already saying to people that this is a copy of my painting only and it represents it - not duplicates it!

So to mess with it and create a whole new product is another thing entirely! As always - I would love to hear from you!

"Tuscany" image courtesy of my talented wife! See more of her work at


Patricia D Arndt said...

Thanks for the plug...

Anonymous said...

So if an artist sits on a "finished" painting for weeks or even months at a time and then adds lighter paint to that leaf that's ok? But if the color is changed in the computer it's not ok? In the end isn't it the artists vision that is being represented in the print? Sometimes certain colors of paint aren't available to an artist. Sometimes technology can help.

I also disagree with you comment that "there is a color correction phase that can involve manipulation of the image - there is a great temptation to play." If you are using a reputable Giclée printmaker the only time image manipulation is done is when it comes in written form first. The color correction phase does not at all involve image manipulation. Ever. They are two different things completely.

Lastly, your comment on "create a "product" that does not represent your original, then name it something else and don't sell it as a print of the original!" holds no water either. Most artists are making Giclée prints based on a very small number of comments of people wanting a print of their original. These artists want to get their art out there and sold. When they do this, they want it represented in their vision. If that means tweaking color to their liking, so be it.

Any type of printing precess is limited in it's color gamut and must be adjusted to get as close as possible to the original. So as you say, we are already saying that this is a representation of my original. Agreed.

Some of your comments are correct but most are not.

Just my 2¢.

Myron D. Arndt said...

Thank you for your comment. With regard to your first point about technology helping - yes that is true and there are also many talented digital artists out there who use it all of the time. Perhaps my beef has more to do with the fact that artists are often desiring to change their vision but don't want to pay the cost. As far as the image manipulation is concerned - you are again correct - they are different. However, a giclee printer will take direction from the artist and what is frustrating is that if the "vision" is constantly changing there is no base from which to match a result and that can end in frustration, great cost and time spent. The relationship between the artist and printmaker is critical and clear communication of the vision essential.

I am glad to hear from you and appreciate your clarifications!

Anonymous said...

But if it's the artist who is constantly changing the vision as you put it, isn't that the point? I mean almost any artist will tell you that a work is never really done. There is almost always something he/she would change at a later date.

As far as no base from which to match a result, the final product IS the result. It's the result of the artists vision.

Thanks for your reply. BTW, I am a giclée printmaker and take great pride in delivering what the artist wants. If that means changing color or moving brush strokes, it's still what the artist wants which is what we strive to achieve.

I will say that 99% of our artists are only looking for accurate color and sharp detail so this discussion is really pointless. I just wanted to say what was on my mind.

Thanks again.

Myron D. Arndt said...

I am sorry to see that you are posting anonymously, you are obviously a concerned printmaker who takes the artist seriously as do I. No discussion on this is pointless, however I agree most artists don't fall into the category that this applies to. I sincerely hope that you are able to provide that kind of personal service and still keep costs in line - which was my main point.

The second point is perhaps not as clear. Once a print is finished - the edition is usually expected to be consistent. The artist's vision may change - but the buyers expectation may not. I believe that for an artist to have a good business in art - certain consistencies should be maintained.

Thank you once again for your frank comments and for sharing what is on your mind.

Best regards!