Friday, April 16, 2010

So, what do you do?

Do you make one-of-a-kind stained glass pieces? Unique original works of art? Or do you think of your work as generic and decorative? And what exactly is the difference?

I have always wondered about the "signed and numbered" phenomenon. Painters and photographers do this as a way of getting good prices for what are essentially copies of their work. It's an understood contract between buyer and seller that there are a set and limited number of copies and therefore each is worth more than just the cost of production plus profit; they have value as a "semi-unique" art work. But it's still a copy. So I've always thought there was something not quite right about that whole enterprise but I'm not exactly sure what it is.

Several years ago I decided that I was no longer an artisan but an artist. I naively thought that what this meant was I would do only signed, one-of-a-kind pieces and I advertised them as such on the website. I eventually sold them, not on our site but at art shows where I did not claim any one-of-a-kind status for them. But I kept the photos up on the web as examples of my work.

A few weeks ago I was contacted by someone who wanted one of the pieces on the web-page and I told her it had been sold. She asked me to make another one. Now, to be frank, this was our first possible commission in quite some time, so I agreed to draw up another pattern - I had thrown the original away - and recreate the piece. I felt that since the original buyer received no promise that I would never make a copy, I'm within my rights to do so. Or am I?

So...what would/do you do? Would you tell them that it's impossible, you can't recreate an original? Or do you consider every piece unique and one-of-a-kind in it's own way?



  1. Joe,
    Not having been faced with this dilemma, I can't say for certain, but here's my take ... When the art in question is your own original art, you are entitled to call it "one of a kind". Since you will have to re-create the art for this client, some aspects of it will undoubtedly differ for the second piece. And you will, of course, be using different glass. Side by side, the two swan windows are going to look different and therefore no longer "one of a kind." Really, isn't every piece of non-manufactured, hand-made art "one of a kind?" I say, go for it.
    Kathy -

  2. Absolutely go for it, as Kathy said, you're not going to go find identical glass, it is still your original piece.Your post peaked my interest because I am actually working on a series of Panoramas, I just sold #6, have a commissions for #7 and #8, and plan on doing 100, by the time I am finished. It's actually alot of fun to just work with the color, and enjoy that phase of the creative process.

  3. We at Anythinginstainedglass firmly believe that an artist has the full freedom to create artwork with own creative ideas

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  5. Well... the big difference between an Artisain and an Artist... most of the time, the Artisian is the one who gets to make the money. :) Our company OldWorldStainedGlass did both... now we have evolved to selling supplies to a new breed of Artist.
    Mongo's Artglassville

  6. Unless you sold your rights to the design, make it as often as you want to. Each time you make the same panel it has slight and or major differences by the time it's completed.
    Great question BTW!

    Down East Stained Glass