If you are shopping for original artwork, you may find that many photographers and digital artists print limited editions. This is intended to make the artwork more valuable and "collectable."
I print open editions rather than limited editions. This doesnt mean that there will be thousands of copies of each of my prints; far fewer people than that will purchase each print. What it does mean is that I do not try to artificially inflate the perceived value of my prints.
Each of my prints is an original. They are not reproductions! That means that each is custom printed by me. They are not mass produced. The printing is of extremely high quality. Most people, upon seeing the prints, think that they are original watercolors or paintings. That is how high the quality of the prints is.
While there are legitimate reasons to edition prints made by traditional printing processes, there is no reason, other than as marketing strategy, to edition photography or digital art.
In the July/August 2001 issue of Lenswork, Brooks Jensen wrote "I am against a predetermined limit imposed as a strategy to make the artwork scarce."
The limited edition is a concept from the world of fine art printmaking. The "original" was a printing plate cut by the artists hand, from which the original prints were made. The printing process would eventually wear out the printing plate. This wear meant that the first prints made were of a higher quality than the later prints. Finally the plate would have to be discarded; hence the limited edition. Prints were numbered relative to the edition size so that the buyer would know how early or late they were in the edition.
Photographs and digital art are not made from originals that wear out. A limited edition of prints represents an arbitrary limit, intended to produce scarcity and thus raise the price of each print.
As Jensen points out, all original artwork, including original digital prints produced by the artist, are limited in the sense that the artist cannot personally create an unlimited number of copies of the same image. Jensen asserts: "Imposed limits are artificially placed on photography for the benefit of the seller. The edition is limited so as to limit the supply and push the price higher. There is no other reason to do it." The same is true of digital art.
Jensen points out that higher prices ultimately limit the market to the few who can afford it, leading to an elitism that tends to keep new artists out.
I dont edition my prints because I want them to be available to as wide an audience as possible, thereby helping to encourage an art world in which new artists can flourish and anybody can be a collector.