Art: Limited edition prints and Certificate of Authenticity

Limited Edition Prints:

This is up to the artist to decide whether to do this and to define what they want their definition of a limited edition is since many artists do it differently.  A few of the larger nationally known art shows require limited edition prints to participate in that specific art show.
Some artists are very sensitive on this subject and either are very for it or very against it. I just chose not to do it anymore.

I personally do not think it is a good idea and worth the paperwork for most artists to keep track of for photography for the art show market.  I have never had a customer tell me he was not going to purchase a piece because it was not a limited edition.  To me it is more of a gallery marketing thing and since photography prints can now be duplicated with exactly the same quality when printed in bulk or at a later date, I am not sure it applies to the original reason for limited edition printing.   For some States such as artists selling in California or New York, more specific rules are set up for limited edition paperwork and should be reviewed.

If you sell photography to more of a serious collectors market or thru an art gallery, I can see a benefit to selling limited edition prints in smaller editions. Some photographers limit there editions in smaller amounts such as 15 -50 prints per image. Many times these smaller edition prints are much more expensive to purchase and may be each individually hand done such as in a darkroom or using an alternative photography process.

When I first started out I did have selected prints marked as LE of 100, 150 or 250. When reality hit and I saw that even if I had a popular print, it may only sell 5 to 15 times over many years due to the limited amount of shows I did. Because of this, I decided that it was not for me. I have seen artist put very high LE numbers such as 1000 or higher and I wonder if it is really limited at those numbers. You should always stick to what your limited edition agreement was in your printed statement for those artworks sold under a limited edition agreement. I see very few artist selling limited edition prints at art shows now a days as compared to what I saw in the past. It is really a personal choice for the artist and in some mediums such as bronze sculptures, it could be the norm.

Certificate of Authenticity:

 Certificate of Authenticity







Some artists do place a sheet called a Certificate of Authenticity on the back of matted or framed prints. In addition to the artist name and contact information, the certificate may also give print information specific to that print such as art title, size, special type of paper it was printed on, ink used along with the artist signature. These are similar to what would be on a limited edition certificate without any edition size listed.

Shown above, you can see a sample COA from California photographer Roy Kerckhoffs. Some States require COA with your prints and you should determine if this applies to you.

A few articles with additional information on Certificate of Authenticity can be found here in article one and article two. Some examples of COA can be seen here.

Some artists print these out on fancier certificate colored paper with nice borders that adds a personal touch and value to the artwork. Here are some samples of Certificate Paper which can come with a fancy border. I use a ivory colored 110 lbs thick card stock paper, shown below, that I purchase at Staples and can print two to a 8 1/2 x 11 sheet.

 Certificate of Authenticity







Shown above is my COA form. I give this COA form filled out to the customer when they purchase a framed, metal or canvas wrapped print as well as large custom sized paper prints. I do not give out a COA for my matted only prints since they already have my Bio sheet on the back and my signature is already on the mat.




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