Yesterday, a friend directed me to the s[edition] website, and my mind immediately started spinning. As a digital artist, I have for years struggled with the desire by collectors to make my work less easily reproducible / reprintable and somehow more unique and special. I’ve had collectors say to me “Well how do I know you won’t just reprint this after you sell me the original?” and it’s a good question. There really is no 100% surefire way to make a one of a kind digital piece, beyond destroying the file after sending to the printer.
I’ve gravitated towards printing my work on things like watercolor paper, which seems to lessen the impact of digital printing. I often sign my works with the year, and a “1/1″ next to my name, as a guarantee to the buyer that I won’t reprint. Basically, the deeper I’ve gotten into making digital art works, the deeper I’ve found myself trying to hide the digital tracks and make work that could be perceived as original or even “hand made.”
Heck, the reason I started printing Faesthetic over a decade ago, was in response to all of the PDF zines that were floating around the internet at the time. I wanted a permanent archive of what was happening, and at the time I felt the permanence could only be found in physical objects. PDFs were just too fragile in my eyes.
Fast forward to 2013, and we find s[edition]. A company that could not have existed 10 years ago, but makes a lot of sense in today’s screen filled world. Collectable, limited edition digital works of art, viewable from any of your digital devices with a screen. Not only is the concept eye opening, the artist roster gives the brand a level of instant street cred that makes me think this “thing” is going to be real.
But who would buy digital artwork to display on their AppleTV? You? Me? Yes! While the prices wildly vary, the notion of being able to afford a Damien Hirst piece for less than buying a new home is a big deal. That is… if the market proves there is a demand for this sort of art. I can certainly see plopping down $13 for a Hirst piece. Heck, it’s a great conversation starter at a party, having Hirst displayed on your HDTV. And sure, I can see that there is a special novelty for high end art buyers, to have a digital editioned piece, hung on a wall, showing a spinning diamond encrusted skull. $800 + the cost of a new tv is really a small investment if you perceive there to be real value in this.
Perceived value is a big part of the art world in general right? Some artists don’t see their work selling for big tickets until after their death. Heck, it wasn’t until after Van Gogh’s suicide that his work started selling. But if savy artists with huge audiences see value in releasing their work digitally, it says a lot about where digital art could be heading.
Shepard Fairey & David Choe already have huge international audiences, and getting them involved with this platform early on lends extreme legitimacy to the concept. In addition to a download, you get signed certificates of authenticity that add value on a process that will be a hard sell for some art collectors. One twist to the platform that really intrigues me in the notion of selling or trading your digital art. Their website says: “Once editions are sold out, you can sell your works to other collectors through the Sedition marketplace launching soon.”
Keep an eye on s[edition]. The fact that they are selling out of editions numbered in the hundreds shows there is demand, and it is going to grow.