In my travels to shows, galleries, and museums, I have the opportunity to speak with many artists... some established and successful (this is when I usually try keep my mouth shut and take careful mental notes)... and some just starting, but eager to learn. From those just getting into the business of being an artist and all that goes with it, I'm often quizzed on how to go about getting a print published. In reality, the more relevant question would be, "Should I get a print published?" And the answer (no one every wants to hear) is, "Probably not."
With the advances in digital technology, giclee printing is easier and more affordable than ever. This presents a tempting option for the budding artist to produce work affordable to everyone and potentially keep a few bucks coming in. I made this short-sighted mistake early in my career and it comes back to bite me every so often. Let me explain.
In the struggle to become "established" in the world of wildlife art, I was always looking at what other artists were doing (at least what the appeared to be doing) in an attempt to mimic their success. Seeing that others had several good selling prints on the market, it seemed a logical step to publish a print or two of my own. So, not understanding the all the necessary preparation and planning, I did... without ever thinking of the consequences years down the road.
I was fortunate enough (or so I thought) to sell a fair amount of these early prints, so there are quite a few of them out there. I still have some of those early collectors beaming proudly about having my early work and I'm happy that they are happy, but I always cringe a little when I talk about those prints. Back then, I had no idea how limited my skill level really was. With years of study and hard work, I've become a better all-around artist and the glaring problems (and there are a lot!) with those earlier works are like a sharp stick in my eye. One is so poorly rendered that the subject is often misidentified! Yikes! And there they are... out there for the whole world to see.
What I didn't understand at the time was just how much progress I would make as an artist in the years to follow. Of course, I hope to continue to grow as an artist and strive to make each painting better than the last. In that sense, there will always be a little twist in my gut when I look back on my past work knowing it's not of the quality of my current efforts. That's just part of the deal you have to live with when you continue to improve. Keep in mind that once a print is out there, you can't get it back. In a sense, your name will always be associated with that work. In the end, always put your very best effort into every piece and never knowingly let anything out of the studio you might regret later.