Rethinking the number in a print edition or series – downward

Sea Palm I, #1 in a series of 5 (solar Cyanotype), copyright 2022 Douglas Stockdale

As I started down the road of cyanotype printing, I have concurrently been reading a lot of articles related to the number of prints an artist might want to consider for a limited edition of that artwork. This print number has probably been a moving target for me since I wrote about it back in 2008 (here). Interestingly, I did not attempt to nail this number down back then.

I think that after trying to figure a selling price for a print, the edition size is the next question. For photobooks, especially those that are artists books, this number is pretty well defined; 100 or less. Nevertheless, I still see some crazy numbers for “signed and numbered books” that are in the 500+ ranges. For photographic prints, back in the 1980’s the portfolio size (Adams, Brett Weston, etc) was for 100 of each. The cost of which was underwritten by a gallery or an investor (big bucks collector). With digital printing, there really is no top end limit on the number of prints that could be made which are indistinguishable from each other compared to a stone litho print which does change over the printing duration.

A caveat are the unique prints which due to the printing process, only one print results, such as a lumen print or when one manipulates polaroid print. Then again, what I note today is that these unique print might then be re-photographed to make a digital master (second generation image), which is then used to printed in an edition. I leave it to the collectors to determine if they desire an original or a ‘limited edition’ second generation print. This was the practice of many watercolor artists in the 1980’s, to photograph their artwork to create a ‘limited edition’ print of their unique watercolor painting, essentially printing a poster on a higher quality paper, with the edition of 1,000+. sigh.

Okay, this takes me back to today’s question; for me, who is not represented by a gallery now (another COVID casualty), how many prints do I want to make and how many prints will I actually sell? Btw, I do note that artist who are represented by numerous galleries, their print size number seems to be in the 20 – 25 range. Until recently, I have been using a print edition size of ten (10), nevertheless, I have yet to sell (or even give away) ten prints of any of my stand alone images, unless a print is associate with a limited edition book, and that has been an edition of 15 sold.

For my solar cyanotype printing process, each print is really unique, due to the solar printing conditions. And since I want to make and sell multiples, even though the typical convention is to label multiples as part of an ‘edition’ (implied, each looks identical), my cyanotypes are probably more in a line with being a ‘series of prints’ made over a month or so when the sun appears to shine bright enough. No two are exactly alike! So calling my multiples of one image a ‘series’ or an ‘edition’ might be a bit fussy and since I do not have a gallery who wants to argue this point, this then becomes my call. LoL

So, for stand alone prints, whether archival ink or cyanotype printing, for multiples my edition/series size has now shrunk to five (5). Thus, for my recent alternative solar cyanotype print, Sea Palm I, the edition is now complete, having printed all five solar prints that will comprise this edition. Cool! One of which is now matted and framed and looks very nice on my wall. For this series, there is no artist proof planned (e.g. edition of 5 + 1 A/P), so I will retain one of these five prints for my personal collection; my first solar cyanotype print!

I have a couple of artwork submissions to make for this solar cyanotype, thus I need to keep two prints in reserve for those events, while this allows me two to sell now. So there you go; let me know if you are interested. In selling my first solar cyanotype print, I just might make you a deal on it.

Now available, (DM me): Sea Palm I, solar cyanotype on watercolor medium, 8 x 10″ image on a 11 x 14″ sheet, series of 5. See below for actual print of image floated on the sheet and the blue outside edges resulting from the cyanotype printing process are concealed by the lip of a picture frame, or it can have a matte. Signed and numbered on the reverse side.

Cheers & make every day an Earth Day



 The Flow of Light Brushes the Shadow, an artist book from Singular Images Press, Fall 2022 release, $60.00 (CA sales tax for those residing in the USA) plus shipping expenses. Message me or singularimagespress@gmail for shipping details and PayPal invoice.

Note: The Artist Special Edition (book + extra print) is Sold Out

Book workshop:

Southeast Center for Photography (SEC4P): Creative PhotoBook workshop, (Sold Out) a virtual event on Zoom; February 25, 26 & March 4 & 5th 2023; from 10am – 1 pm, EST (3 hour session each day, with a week between the weekend sessions to work your book-dummy). 


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