I don’t sell my art in limited editions. It’s a decision I made when I first started as an artist, and one I stand by. Here’s why:
First of all, nearly every photographer I admire uses open editions. It’s just a natural medium for photographs. Limited editions make total sense for many traditional art forms, where the master image degrades with each printing. But one of the pleasures of photography is that you are not limited in the number of prints you can make from a negative. And this is even more true with digital photography where the master file never degrades.
Second, my technique and skills are constantly improving, as is the technology I use. Whenever I make a print, it represents the best I can do at that point in time. But every year, the software I use gets more sophisticated. Every year, my ability to use those tools gets better. Every year, I learn new techniques and get better at old ones. And because of this, every time I revisit an old photograph, it gets better and closer to the vision I originally had for it. If I limited my editions, this avenue for growth would be shut down, which would be unfair to both me and the buyers of my art.
Third, it just doesn’t make business sense. Limiting editions would just limit my potential for making money. And my goal is not just to make art, but to make a living from my art. Artificially limiting my ability to do this is just taking money away from my family.
Some argue that limited editions are more attractive to collectors, because they are better investments. But you want collectibility? Buy Pokemon cards. You want an investment? Buy some stock. You want art? OK, let’s talk! No one who has bought a print from me has ever asked about limited editions, edition size, print order, or anything. They buy the art, not its collectibility.
Added April 6, 2012:
Mike Johnston of The Online Photographer reports on another example of the inherent problem with limited editions. William Eggleston himself is getting sued by collectors who believe some recent reprints devalue their older LE purchases.