Printable Art Prints

Printable Art – is it Really Art?

(from my blog)

What on earth is the use of printable art? Is printable art a new form of psudeo ‘art’ where artists – like me – simply sell the same piece of artwork – digitally – over and over again? Is printable art just a collection of easily produced wall art designs – cooked up by a bunch of photoshopping click-baiters – that represents little to do with art, and more to do with taste-free chatterati showing off to their neighbors about their new home decor?

Or is printable art a new – and underappreciated art form?

Printable Art as a threat to the Art Market’s Sense of Itself

Traditionally, of course, wall art has been defined through its existence in art galleries. You only have to take a stroll around the arty streets of Kensington, London – pass Harrods from Marble Arch and take the first left – to find Georgian terraces packed full of exclusive art galleries, where you’ll get little change from ten grand and where room-long oil paintings proliferate. This, then is what is really – traditionally, contemporary – art.

SometimesĀ  I walk these streets and my own art printables are a long way away from here.

But perhaps printable art – I try and find a sense of solace – can be seen more like a home-spun art practice. My artĀ  comes out of your printer (once you’ve bought and downloaded the jpeg) as and when you like. It’s basically the polar opposite of the London art spectrum, where limitation of supply is key. With printable art you pay up and get an email that contains that simple jpeg. Then you do as you will with it – print your shiny new jpeg artwork on your home printer, perhaps. Or take the jpeg on a memory stick to your local print shop where they will do the art business. On canvas; on paper; Giclee print or inkjet; your new printable art jpeg will do whatever your heart desires.

Printable Art – a new form of Art Distribution

There’s something rather unique – and delightful – about the portability of this printable art process. Once you have that printable artwork (let’s call it that) in the form of a jpeg it is endlessly reproduce able.

And there is simply no end to it. You could post it on your art Instagram. You could stick it on your wall (and call it art). Or – if you have ambition – you could turn it into an NFT, no longer printable art but a non-stop art object that’s goes round and around as far as you can push it. The artist will have nothing to do with it – once you’ve got the jpeg, you’re good to go.

You – perhaps – have become the artist yourself.

And so printable art becomes something that is utterly contemporary. It is art that exists solely in the digital realm – beyond even an NFT, it’s something you can now multiply. It’s a digital, printable and non-printable art space of endless reproductivity: digital sharing means that nothing is ever unique. No more signatures, no more limited editions, no more Kensington art galleries.

Printable art and the endless means to reproduce Art

And even from an artists point of view perhaps this reproductability is a big win. If I sell my printable art for a pound (as I do), then perhaps it’s a lot easier to sell than if I sell it for a few hundred. What, then, is the difference between selling one version of a digital print for a few hundred (or thousand) pounds, and selling a few hundred (or thousand) copies of it as downloadable, printable artwork at one pound a pop.

Is there really anything lost, other than the traditional art market’s sense of its own self-importnace?