To Print or not to Print...

Shutterfly CardI have mixed feelings about making prints of my work. Part of the beauty of marbling is that each piece is one of a kind. It can never be replicated again. I can use the same paint colors, lay them down in the same order, create the same design out of them, and use the same paper to print on...but in the end, I will end up with two distinct pieces of work. They may have similarities, but to me and to others, they will appeal to us in different ways. Another reason I'm hesitant to make prints of my work is that it changes the feel of the piece. When people see my work online and then see it in person, they always exclaim, "Oh, wow! It looks so different." And it does. Prints seem to flatten the life out of my pieces. Some artwork looks just fine reproduced. My marbling, not so much.

But perhaps the biggest reason I hesitate from making prints is I like saying to people, "This is original. You are the only person to posses this image. It was made with my hands and comes from my soul. It is unique and no one else on the planet has it but you."

In a world where everyone is on Facebook (except me!), everyone has an iPhone (except me!), everyone watches Mad Men (I don't even have cable), and everything seems to be massed produced from China, I like thinking that there is still something INDIVIDUAL and SPECIAL out there, something like nothing else...besides snowflakes.

And yet...

I am not shy about my goal to bring marbling to the masses and one way to do that is to expose my work to a broader audience in an efficient way that doesn't compromise the integrity of the art form. (Yeah, can you tell by the marketplace vernacular that I've been thinking about this for a while now?) I have several artist friends who have licensed their work to companies that in turn put their images on everything from totes and t-shirts to plaques and pillows to note cards and bookmarks. And my artist friends make a lot of money in the process. I'm not saying the commercialization of their work or the financial reward is bad. Just the opposite. It gives them boundless opportunities: the recognition opens doors to more places in which to feature their work and the money is a source of income that allows them to focus on creating more.

So I am struggling a bit with these two ends of the spectrum. I'm sure there is a happy ground somewhere in there and I'm bound to find it (or rather I should say "determined" to find it). I bring this up today because I received in the mail note cards I had printed through Shutterfly which feature a few of my pieces. And you know what? I like them. They look pretty good and I didn't get an icky feeling in the pit of my stomach seeing my work reproduced.

Shutterfly Card inside

So maybe this is how it steps. Maybe I just need to allow myself to ease into the idea rather than jump into the deep end. And nothing says I have to go all one way or the other.

I will make one promise to myself though: to always do what feels right--what feels best--for a piece. Between my heart and my stomach, the answer will be clear.