Fine Art Frequently Asked Questions:
Do you have an artist statement?
There is a famous story of a master pianist playing a wonderful piece while his student sits quietly enthralled by what he hears. After the piece is finished the student looks at the master and asks, "What does it mean?". The master looks at the student and says, "It means this..." and begins to play the piece again. Or more to the point is this from Jean Cocteau: An artist cannot speak about his art any more than a plant can discuss horticulture.
I've always found it interesting that in the photographic world an artist statement is required. I feel the art should stand on it's own. Having said that, I don't make the rules so here is mine.
Have you won any awards?
Yes, please see the awards section here.
Are your prints signed?
Yes. In the early days when photographers were not working within the context of an art market, photographic prints may not have been signed. Such instances are usually well documented and most dealers or auction houses will provide provenance (ownership history) to justify the attribution of the work to the particular artist. Today, it would be extremely unusual for a photographer not to sign his or her photographs. They may be signed on the back (verso) or front (recto) of the image and the signature may or may not be hidden by the mount. Some people prefer not to see the signature, it’s a personal preference. All my prints are signed and numbered on the front of the print, below the image.
Are your prints from editioned?
Yes. The market for photography only really began in the 1970’s, and even then just a handful of galleries were exhibiting and selling photographic prints. As a result photographers did not tend to number their work in an edition prior to that time, as they were more likely to be printing for a museum show or for reproduction in a newspaper, a magazine, or book. In fact many photo-journalists (a profession that has been responsible for a great many of the most acclaimed and sought-after prints) are steadfast even today in refusing to edition their work, believing it to be a construct of the fine art market. You are much more likely to find younger, more contemporary photographers editioning their work, operating from the beginning of their careers in the gallery art market. Edition size can vary from two to a hundred (sometimes more), and this number can depend on the level of work involved in each print, but is more likely simply the personal preference of each artist.
How is the value of a print determined?
Ultimately, the value of a particular print is decided by many factors: the stature and reputation of the artist, whether the particular image is considered to be important in terms of their career as a whole, whether it was made in their lifetime and signed, what condition the print is in, what edition size the print comes from and of course the perceived "desirability" of that particular image.
Do your prints come with a Certificate of Authenticity?
Yes. When selling a "multiple" the law requires the seller to provide a "Certificate of Authenticity." A "multiple" is defined as any fine print, photograph, sculpture cast, collage, or similar art object produced in more than one copy. A fine print or "print" means a multiple produced by, but not limited to, engraving, etching, woodcutting, lithography and serigraphy and multiples produced or developed from photographic negatives or any combination thereof.
This certificate should state all of the following:
-the name of the artist
-if the artist's name appears on the multiple
-a description of the medium or process
-whether the multiple is being offered as a limited edition, and if so, the total number of multiples, including proofs, of all editions produced from that master
There have many abuses by dealers, and others, in the sale of multiples. The law is designed to hold the dealer/seller to high standards of disclosure in order to avoid fraud as well as mistakes in sales.
What processes are used to make fine art prints?
Most fine art photographs today are printed from a negative onto silver gelatin paper or digitally onto specially made archival photo paper. There are however over 20 different techniques of printing from a negative and many different kinds of digital printing. All my images are printed onto specially made photographic paper designed specifically for digital printing and rated to be equal to or greater longevity than traditional silver gelatin printing. To learn about the longevity of Fine Art digital papers from Wilhelm Imaging Research, Inc., please click here. You will find a short glossary of processes and print terms by clicking here.
Why are your images printed digitally? How does the quality compare?
After spending many cumulative years standing over toxic trays of chemicals in a small room with a red light glowing on me I was extremely happy to have digital printing reach a point, where it surpassed even my best efforts at traditional darkroom prints. The final piece of the puzzle, without which I would not have switched, was the issue of archival museum longevity of digital prints.
The freedom now to fine tune a print digitally, really being able to generate an image that my mind's eye truly saw, is a tremendous boost to creativity and a fantastic time saver. I will only miss the darkroom in a fuzzy nostalgic, glad-it's-gone kind of way.
All my prints are made from high end digital cameras or drum scanned negatives (or slides), printed onto archival paper using Epson pigmented inks whose longevity is rated equal to or better than traditional silver gelatin prints. The quality of the giclée print rivals traditional silver-halide and gelatin printing processes and is commonly found in museums, art galleries, and photographic galleries.
The market for pigmented ink photographs is now equal to that of traditional silver gelatin prints. Numerous examples of giclée prints can be found in New York City at the Metropolitan Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Chelsea Galleries. Auctions of giclée prints have fetched $10,800 for Annie Leibovitz, $9,600 for Chuck Close, and $22,800 for Wolfgang Tillmans (April 23/24 2004, Photographs, New York, Phillips de Pury & Company.)
How are prices set in the fine art photography world?
Basically through supply and demand. Prices for living photographers are set by the artist and should be the same in any gallery around the world (subject to currency fluctuation and local taxes).
What is art?
A difficult question that usually fires up long, fun, interesting debates. Let's start with a few of my favorite quotes:
-A to-the-point quote from Saul Bellow: "What is art but a way of seeing?”
-Something more cynical by the brilliant Frank Zappa: “Art is making something out of nothing and selling it.”
-About vision, which applies nicely to art, by Jonathan Swift: “Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.”
-About creativity which applies nicely to art, by, Scott Adams:“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”
-And lastly, a more philosophical one by Jean-Luc Godard: "Art attracts us only by what it reveals of our most secret self."
Sir Roger Penrose, one of the foremost scientists of our time, when faced with a similar problem with regard to the definition of consciousness, states in his The Emperor's New Mind, "I do not think that it is wise, at this stage of understanding, to attempt to propose a precise definition of consciousness, but we can rely, to good measure, on our subjective impressions and intuitive common sense as to what the term means ..." The same seems to hold for art: you and I may know what it is when we see it, but a definition is quite something else.
Art is a species-specific behavior which can be used for social manipulation. All of us are subject to art's whims. Art is a means to educate, subjugate, subvert, and convert. Art has this power because it can tap into and use our reflexive responses to natural, biologically relevant stimuli. We are unable to control these responses. We do not even realize what is happening.
Art is appreciated by all of us. We need no special knowledge or sensory apparatus or experience to respond to a rhythm, a tune, a series of bright colors, a monumental building, or a parade. We can all be thrilled and soothed by art.
Enjoy the debate...