Print or Not to Print – The Dilemma of the Artist

For years I advised artists that once they commit to sell limited edition prints of their work they have set a course for their careers.  To some degree I still believe this, but now it seems easier to navigate the line of “Blue Chip Artist” and “Print Artist.”

First of all, there really isn’t a wrong decision as long as one is informed.  However, there is a wrong decision if your goal is to get into the finest art galleries worldwide while you are making a mark as an artist who derives his or her primary income from limited edition print sales.  In a nutshell, it wont happen.  Nevertheless, artist Jess Black has decided to sell prints of his work and remain on track to be tomorrow’s blue-chip artist.

Jess Black’s paintings are typically 48×60 in dimension.  They’re relatively large pieces on canvas and he’s fairly prolific.  The decision was made to release about four prints per year with each print being limited to 25 in the edition.  Furthermore, each piece will be Imageprinted as a 20×16 on paper.  There is no competition with the originals in both medium/substrate and price.  The most important factor here is that the exclusivity of the prints make them feel like a rare opportunity and he is not inundating the market with limited edition prints.  Furthermore, he is not establishing a reputation of being a print artist.  The latter being the most important.

Followers of Black have been asking for prints for a couple years now.  There has been reluctance to produce prints for reasons already discussed.  However, carefully managed we can open up Jess’ collector base and keep his work, originals and prints, exclusive. After all, several of his pieces have already been selected by Leigh & Luca – New York to become fashion scarves.  This collection is being released in June 2013 with 100% of proceeds benefiting animal rescue organizations.  People have lined up to buy the scarves with plans of framing them.  This led us to the inescapable conclusion that limited edition prints were in too much of a demand to ignore it.

Each of the limited edition pieces will be printed on high quality archival paper with a one inch border.  Jess will hand sign and number each piece as it is prepared for shipping or delivery. Each fine art print will arrive in a protective sleeve with a certificate of authenticity.  For more information visit his website at


What Qualities Make Someone a Social Media Expert?

Is there anything that actually qualifies someone as a social media expert? Social media is complex. It combines the knowledge of how the social media platform works, knowing statistics of who utilizes social media, a thorough knowledge of marketing concepts, and most importantly an ability to understand “group-think” and to create a likable and persuasive online personality. So, do social media experts actually exist? Maybe. But most of the people who claim to be experts have no business doing so.

Many believe that because they are familiar with the functioning of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. that this qualifies them as experts. This is equivalent to memorizing the vocabulary of a foreign language and calling yourself multi-lingual. You might know the words, but you’re clueless to context, point-of-reference, tense, idioms, etc. To be an expert there is much more to know than how a social media outlet operates.

Who is your target demographic? Which social media outlet has better penetration and at what times should you be posting? For example, the typical person is on Facebook 12-13 minutes a day. That’s a small window to get people to see fresh information. However, 48% of 18-34 year olds check Facebook as soon as they wake up. Therefore, if you’re going to post or advertise it would seem wise to do so between 7-9am M-F. Pinterest users, for example, are comprised primarily of women with plenty of discretionary spending budgets. If social media “experts” do not know the ins and outs of who/what/where/why of each social media outlet then they cannot be considered an expert because they’re not as effective as they should be.

Social media people need to understand the relationship between advertising, marketing, and sales. They need to be grounded in the science of selecting audiences and the art of persuading hearts and minds. This doesn’t mean that your social media “expert” needs to come from the marketing department. He or she just needs a healthy respect for the role social media plays in the overall marketing process. Social media should help the bottom line. Someone who makes you popular but can’t convert that popularity into sales may not be an “expert.”

The person who handle social media must be able to create a likable online personality. More importantly, if this person manages many individual social media accounts he or she must be able to tap into each client’s online personality and post accordingly. Social media is 80% psychology and 20% marketing. The best social media “experts” are students of human nature. They are fascinated by group psychology and love people watching. Social media professionals want to understand why certain people are influential or influenced and what makes them tick.

Finally, a lot is being written about Social Media Influencers. An influencer is someone with a large online presence and a great deal of followers. They influence people. Whether or not they are social media experts is a completely separate issue.

People have asked me if I am a Social Media Expert. I always state that I do not consider myself an expert really because I am always learning from others, but I definitely know quite a bit more than the average person and considerably more than most people who call themselves experts. The fact is that Social Media is changing so quickly that the best we can hope for is being a stellar student of Social Media. We take our hard earned knowledge and offer it to those less stellar or to those who are too busy being stellar at something else.