Determine Sizes for Prints
We're going to talk about sizing first because that is the simplest one that we can nail down and I want you guys to do this along with me right now. Figure out your sizes, figure out your editions and try to get it down on paper because if there's one thing that I've learned about galleries, it's that they don't want to waste their time with somebody who has no idea what they're doing and it will happen. You will find galleries who are totally willing to work with artists and help them out and do whatever, but if you're trying to get into better and better and better galleries, you really need to know all of this information right upfront. If you put yourself in a mindset of gallery owner, and you're the person maybe I'm coming to you and saying, "Hey, I have a portfolio, I'd love to show you. I'd love to have an exhibition at your gallery." Wouldn't you be way more likely to take me on if I'd already knew every size that I offer, every edition, every price of my prints and stuff like...
that, rather than me coming and saying, "Oh, I've never done this before. I don't know what sizes I need. I don't know what my editions are." That's so much more work on your end to try to figure that out. So, sizing. How do we do this? First of all, simple, simple, simple first rule is never print larger than your resolution will allow. People do it all the time, all the time. And there is some latitude there. You can definitely stretch a little bit. For example, I typically will print triple my natural resolution. So, let's just say that I have an image that is naturally... And I'm going to be talking in inches 'cause that's the country that I live in, so convert to centimeters or whatever you might use in your head if you don't. But, in inches, let's say my final work is 20 by 20 inches, then I'll probably be pretty comfortable printing that image up to 50 to 60 inches, even though that's not the natural resolution, and this is just been my personal experience, it might not be what you find is true for your work. Maybe you think, "You know what, that's too much for me," or you might say, "That's too little for me." And it all depends on the medium as well. So, if we're talking about fine art prints, this is my limit: triple the size of my resolution. Let's say that you want to sell your image for something else and it's gonna be on billboard. Well, then yeah I would probably print it a lot bigger because you're not gonna be right up close to that billboard. You're gonna see it from quite a distance. So, the resolution just isn't going to matter as much in that situation. Although, it always matters to me in some way. You just have to sort of grate it for yourself. So, triple the natural resolution is how I tend to print my works, and of course, smaller and everywhere in between that as well. Not just triple the size. That'll be a little crazy. And then, standard is 300dpi, which is what printers will often ask for. Unless, your experience is different and I want to keep saying that because this is just, what I've been through with my printer and picking sizes and choosing my editions, you might have a different experience and that is totally okay. There is no rule book for this insane fine art world. Which, I wish that there was, but there simple is not. So, if we move on then let's talk about how you determine sizes. The first thing that I do if I'm unsure of how big or how small I should make my work, I go straight to my printer. The man who prints my work, not the machine and I say to him, "How big do you think this can go, realistically?" You know, you might think, "Oh, well he has something to gain if he tells you something really big," right? Because that means that he'll make more money from me, but it's good to have a really nice relationship with your printer where you can have those open discussions of, realistically, when will this image stop looking good? When will the pixels be too stretched? When will it become too blurry? All of those things. So, always just ask, just asked. And even on the small side, too, you can print your work as small as you want. This is just a fact. You can print it, you know half an inch big if you wanted to, which some people do and maybe that's your cup of tea, but I like to get a second opinion especially from a printer to say, "How small do you think this image could go and still retain the details that this particular picture needs?" That's a really good thing to ask. People don't often think to do that, but it's really good. The next thing you have to do, once you know how big and how small your work can go, is to ask yourself, not your printer, not anyone else, "How many sizes do you want to offer?" And, I have a certain range that I usually go with and I'll share that in a moment, but it's really important for you that you don't get caught up in this line of thinking which is, "I have to offer a ton of sizes because what if my sizes sell out?" That is the wrong way of thinking about this. So, if you're trying to determine how many sized prints you want to offer, don't think in terms of, "One day down the road, this print might sell out and then I'll be really sad, so I wanna have lots of sizes." Because sizing is sort of like, like the artist loophole, in a lot of ways, 'cause you could add a size to your lineup and just sneakily by like, "Oh, I'm just gonna add this 25 inch print in here even though I didn't have that originally." And technically, you could do that, so you could just keep expanding your editions that way just by adding in new sizes. I highly do not recommend doing that because that's a little bit deceptive, I think, and probably not the way that we want to go in our careers. So, choose how many sizes that you want to offer right away. And then, think about the ease of printing. And I mentioned this because I have found printing to be an extremely complicated process, and we're going to talk a lot more about printing later, but think about it this way: I have four main sizes to my prints, and I'll be sharing all this information in just a little while here. And when I print a small print, a small 10 inch print, which this right here is a 10 inch print. So, we've got this framed image here. This is 10 inches and you know that's about this big. Just a small print. So, if I print that tiny little print it's really easy to handle. It's on thick paper, it's not gonna bend easily, it's not gonna roll. It's really easy, I can fit it into my hand, I can put it into my suitcase wherever I need. Really, really simple and really easy to package, too. You'll just sandwich is between some cardboard, send it off to wherever it needs to go. The bigger the print, you know I have some prints that are about this large and that's really difficult to deal with because at that size, the paper starts to roll on itself, it'll bend really easily, you're more likely to scratch it when you're trying to transport it and it's just a really difficult process. And there are times when somebody will order a really large print and the first thought that I think is, "No-o-o," because I don't want to go deal with the print itself because it's a really laborious process. So, just think about that for yourself. How big is too big for you? How big is just too much to deal with, with packaging and shipping and moving around and handling and... And then the other thing is, do the printers that you use, can they handle that size? Because a lot of standard printers will be 44 inch printers and to have a printer bigger than that is not as common within printing establishments. So, if you want to do let's say a 60 inch print, well it's very unlikely that you'll be able to do that in a standard printing situation. So, always call ahead to your printer that you're thinking of and say, "How big can you go? Not just how big can my print go, but literally how big is your machine that will print these photos?" Same with paper. Make sure that you're using paper company that provides paper that's that big. Sometimes they don't. So, things to think about for sure before we even get into that. Okay, so we have an acceptable size variance, I would say two to six. Two to six different sizes is going to be a really good range to be in if you're offering prints to your clients. And I would say that the lower end is better. I tend to be of the opinion that the fewer size prints you offer, the more money you can charge for those prints because you don't offer a wide range of products. So, it becomes more selective. And, this will all come into pricing later on in terms of how many sizes you offer, what your editions will be, things like that. It gets a little complicated with all the different variables that go into this, but just to start with sizing, get it in your head right now, what kind of sizes you feel comfortable with. And also think of the range of sizes, too. You know, how much of a difference do you want between your sizes. I would say standard is about 3-4 sizes is typical for an artist to offer. And if you think about it in terms of small, medium, large, that makes sense, right? Or small, medium, large, extra large, so that could be the sizing of the prints that you offer and you have a range within those different labels. So, that might be a good range. I think. For my general works, these are my different sizes. So, I've got 10 inches, 20 inches... Can you see the pattern? 30 inches and 40 inches. And these were my sizes that I'd decided on at my very first exhibition that I ever did and I remember before that I had never had an exhibition. I had never properly printed my work and I had no idea what I was doing. So, the first print that I ever sold, that I've never sold another of that image, was 25 inches. It was not one of standard sizes that I offer now. And I didn't know what I was doing and I could've stuck with 25 inches and that would have been okay. You know, it would have been fine. But I decided I'm just going to make this so easy on myself and everyone else and just do round numbers. Easy, easy, easy in different steps. But as I look back on that choice that I made, I would actually have done things differently. Especially, you know sometimes it take a little bit of separation from your own business and your own work to see how you should have done something and I look back and I kind of think that if I had done it again, I probably would have gotten rid of that 30 inch size because it's not one of my best selling sizes in general. You know, it depends on what the galleries want and what they're really pushing, but my best selling size is 20 inches, and 30 inches is awfully close to 20 inches, is awfully close to 10 inches. They're all very, very much in align, so I would probably have limited myself to these three sizes in the end, just make a little bit more of a gap between my medium size and my large size. And, that's just me. Maybe you want something different. You can offer, you know, eight sizes if you want to. You can offer one size if you want to. It doesn't really matter, but what you need to think about to inform your decision is where you're trying to go with your work. Exactly where do you want to be. Not just right now, not just in one year, but in 10 years, in 20 years. Where do you see your art going? And if your answer is high end galleries or museums or things like that, you might want to consider right now in limiting your sizes. It can't hurt to do that and I guarantee you, it's not as easy as one might think to sell out all of your editions in all your sizes. It's actually quite a challenging thing. People ask me all the time, "But what if you sell all your work?" I'm like, "Guys, I've got 700 images. I'm not gonna sell all my work. It's just not going to happen right now." You know, I'm looking forward to that time when maybe I'm dead and all my work is selling like hotcakes and then, you know, someone will maybe benefit from that, but not me. So, right now this is what I wished that I had done, that I did not do and I'm okay with that and you can always take a size away later on if you decide, "You know what? I've got new images out now." You can change your sizes for a particular series or a particular set of images and that's okay, but good to have a sizing structure for general works. That's what I think. So, this is my, my sizing for my Fourth Wall series. So, the new series that I've created that has been on display this year, for the first time, I have eight inches and I have 42 inches. Just two sizes now rather than four sizes and you can see the huge size discrepancy in there from really, really little to really, really big. And, I really enjoy doing it that way because it sort of forces the person viewing it to say, "Whoa, what experience do I want to have with this art?" Either I'm going to have the full experience or I want a more intimate experience, and they're two very different ways of viewing art. So, instead of giving too many options, I'm giving only two. It's sort of like, you know if you walk into a department store and you have huge shelf of socks and they're all just slightly different from one another you're gonna have a way harder time choosing your socks than if you just have two pairs that are really different from one another. And, I tend to think that people are more comfortable purchasing something in that position, when they don't have so many options, but when they just have a couple of options that are really different. So, I think that's pretty good. So, fewer sizes at a higher price is generally what I would recommend. And I'm not telling you put a huge price tag on your work right now necessarily. It depends on where you are in your business and your career, if you would consider yourself an emergent artist, a mid-career artist or an established artist, these are all things to consider, and we'll talk about what that means exactly, but in general, fewer sizes, higher price. The more sizes you have, the more sales options there are, if you think of it that way. So, you can go with the sock analogy and you know, you're gonna have an easier time selling to some people if you have fewer options, but this really depends on what kind of artist and what kind of business you want to have and be. So, you could be the type of artist that says, "You know what, I don't even care about having editions. I don't care about limiting what I'm putting out there, I'm gonna sell to anybody who wants have it." Do that! I don't care, it's just a choice that we make and that's totally fine. So, if you have more sizes, technically, you have more sales options. You know if there's a client who's really picky or maybe they have a space in their house that they're looking to fill. Maybe you have a size because you have lots of sizes that will fit in that space in their house, but in general, people like to be pushed into their decisions. Maybe you guys have experienced this. Maybe you're one of those people. Maybe you have friends like that, but I know, I have a lot of very indecisive friends and the more choices you give them, the more they shut down. So, that's been my experience. I say you can't sizes and I what I mean by that, since I already told you, "Oh, you can change sizes if you want," within a single image, if you've already started selling from that image, from those sizes, then you can't change your sizes. So, it's very unprofessional if I were to sell this image that you see up on the screen here, if I were to sell that image, you know, maybe I start selling a 10 inch of that print, it would be really unprofessional for me to then, two years later, say, "I'm just gonna add in another size here. I'm just gonna add in this other size and just keep selling and making money off of that print." So, it's really good to just say, "Nope, I'm not changing my sizes." That's always good. I would also recommend that you consider the paper that you're using when you're choosing your sizes because paper is going to look different at different sizes. So, if I have a small 10 inch print it's very likely that I'm going to see a lot of the texture from that paper a lot more clearly on that small print versus a really big print that has the same texture running through it. So, just be really aware of exactly what the paper looks like at different sizes.