Q: How can your images be purchased?
Tom: First, the print and its presentation are inseparable, in my view. An image can soar or suffer depending on how it is framed. There are a few good ways to frame a given print, and a thousand bad ways, so I only provide framed and finished pieces. I don’t want my work to be presented badly. Of course, the space in which it is hung is a major influence, so where possible, I like to work with the client to size and finish the piece in a way that compliments the art and the space and creates the desired impact. I’m quite willing to take the time to produce the best result.
Q: What are your prices?
Tom: Rarity has always been a major factor in the value of artwork. So first you have to ask, “How many are available? Only the original? Reproductions?” In many genres, artists try to strike a compromise between selling more copies to maximize income, and limiting the copies to maximize the price. This has evolved into the “limited edition” game: To provide an illusion of value, editions are typically declared with sizes far larger than will ever be sold. You see limited editions of 1000 prints, 2000 prints, which in my thinking is no limitation at all. How many editions sell out? Virtually none come even close. The artist or the artwork popular enough to sell out such an edition is extremely rare.
I don’t see any point in playing this game. It puts the customer at the mercy of the artist and ultimately erodes the value of the work. My answer is to give the customer the ability to determine limited edition size and price. I have a pricing policy based on a limited edition of 10, which can be further reduced by the customer. I call this Exclusivity Pricing.
Q: How does Exclusivity Pricing work?
Tom: There are different prices for a photograph depending on how limited the edition is, and in making the choice of prices, the customer actually sets the edition limit. All my editions are limited to 10, first of all, and each piece has a “schedule” of prices allowing the purchaser to further limit the size, if desired. For example, if the purchaser wants to own the only copy, the original, there is a price for that. It will be the highest price, obviously, and it guarantees that no other reproductions will be made. If the customer is content with owning 1 of 10 copies, there is a lower price for that, and it permits me to sell 9 more copies.
Q: What if I want to own the only copy, but a copy has already been purchased at some other price?
Tom: Then the “1/1” option is gone. But, you could purchase at the “1/2” price, and the edition would be forever limited to 2. The person who purchased earlier at a lower price sees the value of their copy rise, and that is an appropriate reward for making an earlier decision. Exclusivity Pricing does what it promises — allows the purchaser to set the edition size — but the buyer has to consider several factors: (1) How much do you value the piece and value exclusivity? (2) How many copies, if any, have already been purchased? (3) How timely can you make a decision?
Q: Does this pricing mechanism operate as a kind of auction?
Tom: Yes, you can think of it as a kind of “slow-motion” auction. If the purchaser is willing to bid the price higher, the reward is more exclusivity. Really, it is a three-way negotiation — my assessment of a work’s value, versus your assessment, versus the assessment of other buyers. Every transaction ever made is basically the same thing — the oldest story in history.
The Exclusivity Pricing schedule for my photography has four steps or break-points: 1 of 10, 1 of 5, 1 of 2, and 1 of 1. Works are assigned to a pricing schedule, seen here. Besides know the price of a piece, interested parties will have to inquire about the available edition sizes. The best way is to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: One last question: Some artists sell extra “proofs” along with their limited editions. Do you do that?
Tom: Yes and no. It is necessary to make proofs of a piece to get the best quality production. I generally do no more than 2 or 3 that turn out adequately. They are always much smaller prints than production editions, 60 cm x 40 cm maximum, and modestly framed. But I seldom sell them — I usually donate them to charity auctions or give them to friends.