Total Pageviews

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Question About Prints

We had a question from a member concerning prints. A painting of hers turned out to be quite popular. She sold it and then wondered... can I make prints of it to sell?

It just so happens we have a member at MAG who sells many prints internationally, Russell Smith. This is his response to the question.

Technically (and legally), unless the copyright has been expressly transferred to the owner of the painting, which is rare and usually only done with commercial work, the artist retains the copyright on the image even if someone else owns the painting. Some customers and artists don't realize this and think that the sale of the original also means the sale of the rights, but that isn't true. The US copyright office recognizes the "original" and the "image" entities. Legally, the image is still [the artist's] to do with as she pleases, regardless of what the customer wants (unless the customer already has the original and won't hand it over).

Now, that being said, you want to avoid offending your customer, so if I decide to make prints of an image I always make sure that the customer understands my intentions and is okay with it. I've never had a problem with any customers not wanting me to make prints of their original. In fact, most are proud because it really give deeper meaning to the term "original".


  1. Hi
    I have been a printer for over 40 years. In 2000 I started offering giclee prints of artist's originals in New York City. My print studio is now located in Matthews, NC. My website is www dot chromatype dot com. I will be happy to answer any questions you might have regarding digital fine art printing.

    1. Thanks for replying, Clyde. Will have to visit!