Thursday, February 12, 2009

No More Phony Limited Editions!

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1 comment:

  1. 3 comments:

    ArtWorld Market said...
    Sunday, March 11, 2007
    No More Phony Limited Editions!

    If there's a good reason to limit an edition other than phony scarcity to drive up prices, then that reason should be stated up front, otherwise, let it go. There are enough REAL reasons that editions are limited in Second Life. Take the Starax Wand as an example: They were sold straightforwardly for a modest price, considering what it does. It was a no transfer item--everyone was an end user. Now the supply has stopped.

    Posted by ArtWorld Market at 5:55 PM


    Esch Snoats said...

    Well, as a person who sells limited edition artwork inside SL, I think you may be a little too harsh with your opinion of them. I would love to hear what events lead up to your current opinion of LEs because I think that will dictate more than anything how this thread will go as we all talk about it here.

    Let me throw this out there just to get the ball rolling. I sell only 5 copies of each of my pieces, generally between L$2000-3000 a piece. Yes, in a way the price is dictated by how few I sell, but also there is indeed the element of , "If people like my work, they will buy it at that price." If my work wasn't good, no one is going to buy it regardless of what price it is. This is the gamble with selling LEs because art is subjective, and what I may think is great, someone else will think it's crap.

    People are no different in RL from VL. They want status symbols. They want stuff that no one has, that way they can point to it and say "Hey, that's a LE, only 4 others have it in SL and I have #1 in the series!" People get hard core into that stuff.

    I sell my LEs as /no copy/mod/trans/, that way not only can they resize the piece to get it to fit within their space, but they have the option of selling it off later if they don't want it.

    This is a perfect selling point for them because they can tell the next buyer that the art only had 5 copies in game. The buyer of my art benefits from this scarcity just as much as I do.
    March 11, 2007 6:57 PM
    snaper Strong said...

    I don't know if this is phony, but i do limited editions my work. Each is an edition of 6; 5 to sell, and 1 saved as an archive copy. My prices are very low in the current market.
    To help make art available to everybody, at my gallery we photograph each show and produce a book. The book is available for free.
    Intellectual property is a big problem here in Second Life, and the debate will likely go on forever.
    I didn't come here to make money, so that greatly colours my thinking on this, but in some realities, this is all phony.
    March 11, 2007 7:19 PM
    DanCoyote said...

    Any copies of an artwork are absolutely identical in SL so the old RL concept of a limited edition is at best a misnomer and highly suspect. Each copy made of an artwork reduces the collector's market value of the work by a factor equal to the number of the artifacts divided by some nebulous overall valuation of a theoretically original artwork.

    Uniqueness (what has been called phony scarcity in this blog) is an important element in determining the market value of an artwork in RL and SL. Let's face it SL is a capital construct, an unregulated free market economy where scarcity is a factor in the creation of value. The question is what kind of value do you want to create in SL with your art? How much do you believe in yourself?

    Do you want to make mass consumer goods that anyone can have, that constantly lose value and compete at the broad base of the pyramid? or do you want to make unique objects that have the potential to increase in value with the integrity of the artist that creates and protects that uniqueness?

    Other kinds of value, like "use value", (the practical value of an object as a tool or useful object) do not apply comfortably to objects of art whose use value is subjective, aesthetic and difficult to determine. To disallow artists to acknowledge uniqueness as a factor in valuation of their work, denies that their art has value beyond wallpaper for a SL shoe store, or as free game development for Linden Labs (bless their capitalist hearts).

    Artists, like the plumber deserve to garner compensation for their contribution to the world. Anybody who doubts the value of a plumbers might be well to take note their scarcity at 2AM. Valuable indeed, and more so when they are scarce. The same goes for the work of artists, who should be compensated for their contribution to the world.

    Because in the end, if part of the value of something to a collector it's uniqueness, that value is very literally created by the artist in their decision not cheapen a collector's investment by mass production. This pledge of integrity of the artist is a real way of creating value, value that can increase considerably when multiplied by demand for the other qualities found in, or substantiating the artwork.

    I am convinced that there are different modes of value in SL commerce. Shoes for instance are not of transferrable value outside of SL. Buy them in SL, enjoy them in SL. Art and Music are of real transferrable value in both worlds, in fact I believe that Art and Music are the only things that transfer value well between both continuums.

    Perhaps more distressing to the artist are very real, insidious institutional errosions of IP rights contained in the SL Terms of Service, sections 3.2 and 3.3 that impinge on the ironclad rights of artist to control their own creations.

    As SL matures and grows, these terms of service increasingly become more like doctrine imposed from afar by a colonial power, on a culture that has grown apart from the mother country. This colonial scenario has played out over and over in RL nearly the same way. How do you think it might play out in SL?

    But, this is yet another conversation...


    DanCoyote Antonelli in SL
    March 11, 2007 10:31 PM
    bathsheba said...

    Meh -- limiting editions is a valid sales model, whether it's done to create scarcity or for any other reason.

    Whether to do it is a matter of taste. For my part I don't do it: I think my work has greater cultural impact and higher aggregate value without limits. As an RL artist, I've bet my income and reputation on that opinion.

    But provided it's done with full disclosure, I don't see any argument to make against the practice: other artists should do whatever they want. (It's lucky I think that, because they're quite likely to anyway.)
    March 11, 2007 11:26 PM
    filthyfluno said...

    It is important for me to create limited edition artwork if the artist's intentions are to create something rare and special. This is enough reason for me to do this despite the RL limitations of artists throughout history. Even site specific mega-prim sculptures don't have to be limited. It's a choice by the artist any way you slice it.

    Nearly anything of value in Second Life is artificially scarce. Obtaining a rare object in Second Life or in other virtual reality similutors and being able to afford it once you find it is an accomplishment that many people like to celebrate.

    At the end of the day, the market will sort out the value of SL art. I know artists who sell unlimited versions of their amazing artwork for $200L and they don't sell anything cause they got no exposure. I also know artists who do "one of a kinds" for $15,000L. Again, what's most important is that the artist has integrity and stays true to their word if they choose to make "limited edition" art. More to come...
    March 12, 2007 3:14 PM
    ArtWorld Market said...

    Yes, I sell limited editions. I also buy them. As an art dealer in SL I preferred them, because they were more likely to increase in value as the population of SL grew. But I have discovered I can sell unlimited editions for high prices just as easily as limited editions. I used to think it was the best way to produce art in SL, as it's the model I have been using for years as an artist on Terra.

    But recently I've had to answer a lot of questions in interviews by RL media about the SL art world, and it got me making comparisons. The reasons for editions being limited in RL are substantial--the cost of paper and printing, the time to make each copy of an edition, etc. Editions needed to be limited to prevent investing in production and storage of inventory that might never sell.

    But those factors do not apply to Second Life. I understand only too well the point that Esch and Dancoyote make about scarcity and status. Having a Starax Wand is a status symbol among Slart collectors. It's scarce. But it wasn't a limited edition. It was expensive. That did not stop people from buying it. It's scarce now because there have been no new ones issued for some time.

    You can have a scarcity model without "limiting" the edition. For example, in RL I raise the price of my editions every year or so, reducing the number of people who will order them. I do demand publishing--making the works as they are ordered. But it's boring making the same old works when I'd rather be making new ones. It has to be financially interesting to motivate me to make another copy of an old work.

    In SL I don't have to do anything but press a button to make another copy. And the buyer can press the button. There is no ethical reason to create scarcity by artificially limiting the edition size. It’s pandering to an old economic model, and encouraging Veblenesque behavior (cf. Thorstein Veblen The Theory of the Leisure Class.

    It's fallacious to argue that having more copies of a work diminishes the importance of the artist. There are millions of copies of Picassos, Kandinskys, etc. That just increases the demand for the originals. Perhaps if 2000 people in SL had your art on their SL wall it would increase your exposure and create more demand for your RL artworks.

    If the Slartworks are SL originals, rather than copies of 2D Terran art pasted on a prim, then price them accordingly as original works. The high price alone will limit sales of the edition and make it exclusive. Why stop 100 people who want to give you $L15,000 a pop from doing so?
    March 13, 2007 8:25 AM
    CMP / N. Severine said...

    At my first SL exhibition (July 2005), I sold prints of my stuff for around L$300 a pop. That was also before I made an SL "day job" for myself, selling skins, eyes, and other random creations.

    Since then, I've felt rather uncomfortable about putting a price tag on my art at all. To me, the artistic process is not commerce -- it's a higher plane of consciousness. It no longer feels right to me to charge money for something so personal. As of today, all my pieces will be sold for no more than L$1.

    March 13, 2007 6:26 PM
    Karen Schreiner said...

    All my art is digital, in RL and SL. I create with PSP etc. Even though I've started to print my images to canvas and exhibit and sell them in RL, the concept of "an original" doesn't really apply. There are no originals. So, what I do in SL and RL are pretty much the same. In both worlds I can, of course, offer limited editions and, if I do, the reason will be same in both cases ... to increase demand by reducing supply. I don't really see a problem there. Neb raises a more interesting issue, for me anyway. I'm really not at all interested in business and marketing. I'd like to believe I'm an artist and I create art, not products. So, should I sell at all? And if I do, am I somehow devaluing my art? In the end the thing simply boils down to pragmatics. It's cost me a far bit of real money to set up to exhibit my works in SL. And, in RL I love creating so much I really would love to be able to do just that and only that. So, in the end, if I want to continue to display my work in SL and have any hope of becoming a professional artist in RL I will need to sell my work and not just create and show it. I wish it weren't so, but it is. Ultimately, if selling my work allows me to continue creating new pieces and offering them for other people to possibly enjoy then I'm prepared to pay that price.
    March 14, 2007 1:29 AM
    Just some guy said...

    Art should never, ever, be reduced to a status symbol. People are talking about scarcity enhancing value. The value of art lies not in its scarcity or uniqueness, but in the connection that it forms between artist and owner. The value of a piece of art increases directly with the number of people who can enjoy that art, and the number of lives it touches.
    March 14, 2007 4:14 PM
    DanCoyote said...

    Starax Wand is irrlevant. Yes that's right I'm not a fan of Starax. This is because of the retrogerssive nature of the work (who needs silly sculptuers of RL objexts in SL, and yes I know he's popular) and the lack of commitment of the artist to continue to make work in SL.

    This person VERY much decided to play a market of scarcity card by simply losing faith in the new medium and bailing out when the going got tough. The wand was a good idea and is certainly a rare thing now since the artist has committed suicide (another unforgivable sin in my eyes).

    I prefer not to encourage such shallow and superficial behavior and stand by my original unique editions with integrity.

    The conversation is NOT about Starax anymore, if it ever was. Starax made work that was oldfashioned even by RL art stadards. Why does this matter? It matters because we're not in Kansas anymore Toto. For me art is about discovery, it is about pushing forward and encouraging growth and reminding people of their own dormant sense of wonder.

    I also disagree with Artworld here about the "new econonimic model". Bah! This is not the new economic model at all. The reality is that Second Life as created by Linden Labs is a VERY retrogressive capital economy. Tell me something. What do you call a country where business takes over goverment, even worse IS the government.

    Fascism is what is called. In my opinion the NEW economic model is P2P, the elimination of currency and the fair and equitable distribution that has been possible since the 1980s, but not socially possible because of the greed inherant in the capital system. Second Life is actually even less of the new model than RL in many ways since TOS 3.2 and 3.3 give LL rights to your IP that they NEVER would have in RL, ever.

    So go ahead. SEll tons of copies of your work in SL and test your theory. I tend to be somewhat in agreement with the "just some guy" poster in many ways about the TRUE value of art. Even though this person is naieve about the realities of economics he does state the spirit of the situation. But he obviously doesn't believe that he should be compensated for his art (this tells me he is a hobbiest). That is his choice. But I believe very strongly that artists SHOULD GET PAID.

    Also just so you don't think I am being hypocritical I would like to state that just because I play the scarcity game in SL doesnt mean I wouldn't prefer another system. Until this happens we all need to participate in the same dilapidated market economy as RL, in fact they are the same life.

    For more information on the so called "new economy"

    Just for starters!

    Much love to Artworld, FF, Neb, esch and all the artists in SL with the guts to stick it out through thick and thin.


    March 16, 2007 10:56 AM
    rl_artist said...

    real artists make real art for real people in the real world. you so called "digital artists" just push buttons and click on your mouse and let the software do all the work. why on earth do you take yourselves so seriously.

    a serious artist engages in the creative process and doesn't let a machine figure out all the stuff that they are just too lazy to do in the real world.

    how can you call yourself an artist if you are making digital pictures as a cartoon character in a make pretend world? artists are artists because what they do is unique, important, creative, and challenging. otherwise, anyone could just say that they were an artist!

    i'm sorry, but I also am a whiz at most of the adobe softwares and just because I can push the right buttons doesn't make me an artist! one could argue that a camera is also a tool that you just push a button not unlike a computer. but you still have to go into the real world and engage a subject, person, or space! you just don't sit in front of a computer and click click click and say you are an artist, regardless of how cool the pictures look on the screen!

    you can song and dance and talk about economics, marketing, or limited editions all you want, but if you make images just by using a computer, you are not an artist, you are creative software user.

    artworld market talks about how real life limitations like storage, cost of materials, and time contribute to distinguishing authenticity. well i say that making art on a computer is just another way to navigate around these same issues. real artists are scarce, digital artists are a dime a dozen!
    March 17, 2007 12:41 AM
    Karen Schreiner said...

    The really sad thing about ignorant people is that they will never understand their ignorance.
    March 17, 2007 5:28 AM
    DanCoyote said...

    Agreed Karen.

    This so called real life artist is nothing of the kind. This person is a fool (probably a bored, spoiled dull witted teen) sniping at other people from the safety of an anonymous position and is not worth substantive response.

    Rock on Goober!
    March 17, 2007 12:03 PM
    CMP / N. Severine said...

    I'd like to respond to "RL Artist". I hate to break it to you, but "RL" artists are a dime a dozen, too.

    Obviously, there are a great deal of mediocre digital artists out there -- but the same can be said of oil painters, sculptors, illustrators, & so on & so forth. Perhaps it's true that anyone can click a mouse, but anyone can pick up a paintbrush or a piece of charcoal, too. Working with digital vs. concrete media can be just as challenging, or just as simple. It's not the medium, it's what the artist puts into it.

    Second Life artists are breaking new ground. If you believe it's all that simple -- and that no blood, sweat, or tears are poured into working in this medium -- I challenge you to rise to the occasion.

    Go ahead and scoff at our work if you like. The same thing happened to Impressionism, Dada, Pop Art, etc. Every new art movement gets a fair amount of derision at first - "That's not art!!" We'll see who has the last laugh once the rest of the Art world starts catching on.

    For the record, many (if not all) of us are "RL" artists, too. Digital art is an additional medium which artists are only beginning to explore. It's a shame that you are too close-minded to give it a chance.
    March 18, 2007 7:27 AM

    March 19, 2007 2:39 AM
    Esch Snoats said...
    What I love most about the "RL Artist" guy is that he makes blanket assumptions that digital artists don't know what they're doing without actually even looking at the work first to determine if that's true or not.

    Just because it's digital doesn't mean that we don't follow the same principles of shape, line, color, and composition that you would with traditional mediums. Did you walk in off the street or do you actually play SL and know what we're talking about?

    March 19, 2007 6:02 PM
    Kenneth said...
    What a varied bunch of topics - this has apparently touched off many nerves. My wife is an "Abstract Photographer" in RL and is often given grief by "photographers" because they think the work is "digital". It all begins as a RL photograph and then may be slightly manipulated and/or juxtaposed with other photographs to create a more complex image. Just because it was modified digitally does not invalidate the photograph.

    Furthermore, the work can only be "produced" on a digital printer, so early on there was quite a bit of deliberation as to how to produce "originals" and limited editions and how many of each would satisfy that designation in the RL art market. Extensive research revealed that you can produce up to 10 unique copies which can be priced quite high, and hundreds of "limited editions" but less than 1,000. The "scarcity" and "demand" tends to guide pricing.

    The problem is this is such a new segment of the art market that there is much RL controversy. It really comes down to how much the consumer is willing to pay, which leads to the other part of this discussion - quantity and pricing of "limited editions" in SL.

    It's a very individual decision on how one treats their work in SL. Some people create work they feel strongly about and feel it must be limited. Some feel they they should share it with as many people as possible. And apparently from earlier comments, some artists feel this way in RL. It comes down to what you are trying to accomplish and every reason is valid for that person. However, if you talk to a RL gallery owner, you sure better understand that art IS a business selling a product and the way the product is "marketed" influences the perception by others of the artist.

    We are in SL to broaden awareness of my wife's RL art so we aren't limiting editions and will price works however the individual gallery prefers.

    And SL has brought about a whole new category of art, that produced within the world itself - is this necessarily a less valid medium than any other? If someone "paints" an image within a computer, is it less "artistic" than oil on canvas? I don't think so.

    I know this is going to get some upset but - IMHO there are so many "painters" with no spark of originality, there is little value to their work. Art is about creativity - Marcel Duchamp is criticized for his "Readymades" (remember the urinal as art?) - but he is fully accepted as a major figure in the art world for it because of the orginality of the concept. SL creativity, digital artist's creativity, is as valid as any painter's or photographer's...

    I won't even touch the points on the validity of the free market system vs. the failure of socialism, artists are the epitomy of distance from reality on this subject. Google Friedrich Hayek and study the subject for a few years before pontificating on it.

    April 1, 2007 6:26 AM