Photographers capture images with a camera — a simple device that controls light. Experienced photographers plan extensively and spend a lot of time and energy positioning themselves in the right place at a specific time to capture incredible images — in a studio or outdoors. With one click, that original image can be distributed instantly to millions. In fact, photographers shoot images for stock photo houses and receive royalty payments each and every time an image is downloaded. And those pennies add up quickly if the image has wide appeal.
In contrast, a fine artist like a painter has only one true original that can be sold at a certain value. Only one canvas contains brushstrokes, lines, dried bugs, fingerprints, three-dimensional textures rising from the surface that capture glints of light. It’s impossible to duplicate these things. This is what makes a painting a valuable original — and what makes it very difficult to compete in a world of inexpensive duplication made possible by the internet and inkjet printers.
The road ahead for fine artists who produce only one true original is a difficult one especially in this tight economy. Although giclee (zhee-clay) prints — high quality inkjet prints — are possible, they’re still not a dimensional copy of the original. What they are is a way for art aficionados to enjoy an image, live with it on their walls, and then maybe next time consider purchasing an original. Bug guts and all.
In spite of their imperfections, a world without copies is a rather bleak one. Imagine if DaVinci’s “Mona Lisa” could only be appreciated by those who visit the Louvre in Paris. A very long trek to see a woman. Fortunately, reproductions of the original have continued her legacy, mystery (and money-making prowess) since 1503.