Go Back to Previous Page

Portfolio Marketing Analysis for Digital Pigment Portfolios

 

The Markets

There are four distinct markets and one ancillary market for my Digital Portfolios:

1.      Subject

The subject matter of any particular project. For example The Place Where I Will Die may be of interest to collectors of California subjects, ecology, wilderness, landscapes, etc. RiverRun may appeal to the same applying to Utah, desert and rivers. 99%Pacified relates to Vietnam and war, Riding South to Latin American interests, travel, archeology, etc.

2.      Literature

This is the value of text, or the poetry, as literary objects. This market applies to books, journals, readings and other literary venues, as well as libraries and book stores.It also applies to collectors whose particular focus is poetry or poets. This also includes trade , typically paperback, books relating to the same project.
†††† One important factor here is that these digital portfolios are my own original work, and not the reprinting of someone elseís work that happens to be in the public domain.

3.      Art

This market relates to the artistic value of the image as a photographic print. This includes galleries, museum, art and photography collectors, public art, tourist art, and high end interior decoration. In addition to the digital portfolio/books and the individual prints contained in them,this also includes individual prints, separate from the portfolio, usually matted and framed.

4.      Contemporary Fine Print Editions / Artistís Books.

The digital portfolio/book is a highly complex artifact. It combines graphic objects into textual objects, such as images and poetry in the manner of William Blake. It combines the photographic art print within the pages of a book text, and it integrates a number of technologies and media; literature, photographic prints, graphics, computer technology, typography, book design, printing, binding and wood working into a tactile and sculpture like object.
†††† Such complexity is the factor that gives an artistic abject great depth and makes the work enduring. The overall benefit is far more than a simple combination of media, but gains geometrically and synergistically as each media and object lends context to, and increases the meaningful weight, of every other media and object. For example, the poem adds meaning and context to the photograph, and the photograph adds meaning and context to the poem.
†††† This market includes museums, libraries, corporate art collections, special collections based on subjects, and private collectors of art, photography, rare and fine print books, and poetry,

5.      Trade Editions as Coffee Table / Art Books

Obviously, the digital pigment portfolios, books and prints are available only to a very few institutions and collectors. The work, as having value of its own, gains in acceptance and helps to fulfill the artistic goal of communication by being accessible to a much wider audience. Every artist is in the business of communicating with as many sympathetic listeners as is possible. The final goal is accomplish the publication of the approximately 20 projects in a trade edition. Additionally, this will help to increase the value of the digital limited editions.

 

 

Range & Variety of Editions and Products

 

In many ways. all of these markets are to some degree or another incompatible. They may be incompatible, but complex work of any depth and spectrum of media must find ways to appeal to each market and at the same time integrate the product media in meaningful, artistic and interesting ways.

 

This leads to necessity of making each project available in a variety of packages and range of prices.

 

The literary market has almost no economic value at all. Usually the economic rewards are for ancillary occupations such as teaching. Trade editions have some economic rewards, but has little bearing on the monetary value of the art and rare book markets. The contemporary fine print book market values objects far lower than does the art and photographic print market.

 

In order to appeal to, and make economic sense to each of these markets, a number of differing editions and products have been designed.

1.      Complete Editions and Large Format Editions are priced higher for the more exclusive collectors and the for the generally more highly priced art market.

2.      Basic Editions and Small Format Editions are priced to be more affordable and to be more attractive to the book market, which is generally more accustomed to objects in a lower price range than that of the art market.

3.      Custom Editions are designed to fill the spectrum between the two previous markets, and to offer the collector the opportunity of participating in the choice of the prints that make up a particular copy. This can also add value to a particular copy by making it unique.

4.      Photographic Prints are, of course, primarily aimed at the art market, however, they are also of interest to those library and museum collections that include works on paper, photographs and prints.

5.      The three existing Letterpress Editions of the Machu Picchu and the Riding South projects are unique and will not be repeated in future productions.

 

The mixture and variety of markets and media have necessitated the mixture and variety of products and prices, and the forgoing discussion is aimed at explaining some of the questions regarding the complexity of the products and pricing.

 

Digital Print On Demand versus Letterpress and Darkroom

 

The digital printing revolution has radically changed the universe of art, literature and contemporary fine print editions. It has changed these disciplines in the way that they are produced, how they are valued and in their marketing strategies.

 

If we divide the portfolio into the two basic components of printing text and printing photographs we can compare the benefits and drawbacks of digital production in relation to letterpress and darkroom production.

 

 

TEXT

 

PHOTOGRAPHS

DIGITAL

LETTERPRESS

DIGITAL

DARKROOM

CIBCHROME

Ink is layed down, a tender surface

Ink is impressed, leaving a beautiful, sculptured surface that is quite robust

Pigment inks, as permanent as any oil painting.

Dye based. Not as archival.

Vastly greater power to manipulate the graphic look and layout or type fonts and text.

 

Surface is tender and must be handled with care, but matte, glossy and semi-gloss are all possible.

Surface is more robust, glossy only.

Much cheaper in terms of fonts and sizes.

 

Any number of substrates: rag paper, glossy, watercolor, wood veneer, metal foils, leather, cloth, plastic, etc.

Only one substrate

Any number of substrates: rag paper, glossy, watercolor, wood veneer, metal foils, leather, cloth, plastic, etc.

I have used paper, wood veneer and cloth.

A thousand to one more control over image manipulation; local and global.

Contrast, brightness, dodging, croppin are about the only controls.

Ability to mix text with images on the same sheet of paper.

More limited ability to mix graphic elements with text,

and very costly.

Ability to save damaged images, or images unusable in the darkroom.

Extremely difficult and often impossible to save damaged images.

 

 

Ability to mix images with images and with text on the same sheet of paper.

Limited capabilities and difficult to do

 

 

Ecologically friendly, non-toxic

Highly toxic chemical processes.

 

 

 

 

 

When print technology was based on the press, stone/litho or otherwise, the early images were inherently more valuable since the stone, metal or type wore out as the number of impressions increased.

 

It is the opposite with digital. The early images may be perfect, but as impression increase the image may be improved, modified, replaced. The later numbers of an edition are inherently more valuable.

 

In terms of the photographic print the digital image offers tremendously increased abilities for manipulation and perfection, greatly increase the artistís scope. This allow for greater individualistic expressions of work. All photographers cannot be Ansel Adams.

 

Digital prints should also be inherently more valuable since they are pigment based, not dye, and are therefore as archival as any oil painting.

 

In terms of marketing and production everything changes when a copy of a project need only be produced when an order is taken. There is no need to arrive at a final and fixed design and then print the entire edition at once. A project may be entirely designed and only the first, or first few copies need be produced.

 

In this way, a large number of different projects may be designed and published for less than the cost, work and risk of a single letterpress/darkroom project.

 

This releases the artist from the bondage of the market; of being held hostage to a do-or-die commitment to huge expenditures of time, money and artistic decisions all in one make-it-or-break-it project. An artist need not be economically crushed by the swings of the economy or the ebb and tide of fashion. For far less risk, the artist can produce a variety of projects without risking everything on a single huge effort.

 

The only downside is that since the edition is not produced at once, there is some lead time involved in order to fulfill orders. In my case, I would estimate one month elapsed time on average to produce a single copy of a portfolio.

 

Product Marketing Strategies and Career Goals

The digital portfolio offers some unique enhancements over the letterpress/darkroom product.

 

1.      Evolving Portfolios

Since the project is created on demand, and since the computer allows for ease of revision, the project evolves over the life of its edition. Materials improve, the images improve, the test is revised, new image or text is inserted, test and images may be replace or removed.

†††† There is no reason why copy 15 should be exactly like copy 1. There is every reason for the artist to have improved his project as time goes on.

2.      Collector Participation

I have decided to allow the collector to make choices regarding what images are to be included and which are to excluded from any one particular copy of a portfolios.

†††† In a very real sense the collector participates in the design and creation of a unique portfolio. In many case, such a portfolio will the only one of its kind within the edition.

3.      Enabling the Realization of Career Goals

For me, personally, digital technology has given my career a second birth. My goal is now to produce a minimum of three copies of approximately 20 some odd projects. This includes some variants and photographic prints.

††††† This is possible since I no longer need to produce an entire project at once and this allows me realistically assume that over the next ten or fifteen years of my artistic career I am able to create a complete spectrum of the body of my work.

††††† Naturally, sales beyond three copies are expected.

††††† A final, more personal reason, is that I lost the ability to produce any significant work at all after my crippling motorcycle accident in 1987. I simply could not stand up long enough to operate the letterpress or the darkroom. Digital technology can largely be done while resting comfortably upon oneís own fundament.

 

Forthcoming Projects

 

Immediate projects are the following:

1.      The Eyes Of Children:†† 9x12, 10 prints, 30 pages of text; approximately $500

2.      The Place Where I Will Die: 9x12 edition, 200 pages of text with 160 photographic elements, 40 prints with option to select; $2200 to $2700

3.      Machu Picchu: 9x12 digital version with revised and expanded text including photographic elements, more prints with option to select.

4.      Riding South: 9x12 digital version with revised and expanded text including photographic elements, more prints with option to select.

 

Future Projects

1.      99% Pacified: The Vietnam War. 1969 to 1971

2.      The Mullah And The Pusher: Tehran, Iran, 1974

3.      Periegesis: Traveling from Vietnam to Australia, Southeast Asia, India, overland to Paris, on to Germany, Greece, Italy, England, across to New York and overland to Los Angeles.

4.      Drive By Shootings: Urban landscapes of Los Angeles shot from motorcycle or automobile, Urban landscapes, the homeless, automobiles and architecture, pedestrians, windows, gutters and doors.

5.      Cityscapes: Urban landscapes; San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York.

6.      Gnomes: Still life, details, close up images of geometrically simple objects with accompanying gnomic poetry, short, pithy, epigrammatic or oracular in tone.

7.      Living Stone:Archeological ruins, Acropolis, Greece, Stonehenge, Machu Picchu, Tikal, Palenque, Sacsahuaman.

8.      Roadside Epiphanies: Images taken on the road; highways, deserts, structures, landscapes, signange.

9.      Dying Bouquets: Still life images of flowers and bouquets, usually in decay.

10.  Not Another Love Poem: Love poems to my wife.

11.  Painted Ladies†† &†† Naked Ladies: Images and signage of women, various cities and countries at various times & a series of nudes from 1984

12.  Santa Fe To Taos: Images from Santa Fe, New Mexico, including the Taos Pueblo.

13.  The Xmas Kid: Images from a history of a secular Christmas

 

 

14.  Over The Long Run: The Crip as a child, the runner, the fall.

15.  Not Another Love Poem: poems for Flo

16.  Painted Ladies

17.  The Vine Of Death: Tales from the Amazon, in search of the Headless Woman, Ayahuasca with the Shamans, nights in the tambu.

18.  Kneejerk Jingoism: 9/11, The Jingos dance to a Spring Offensive

19.  The Dreams Of Archelocus: Greece

Go Back to Previous Page