We're having a print sale on Sunday. You may have heard. (One reader wrote to say he's sick of hearing. Buck up, little soldier—TOP has to grind its grain, after all. That's how we keep coming to you for nothing. Begrudge us not our loaf of bread.)
On the eve of Peter Turnley's first print sale on TOP, a year and a half ago, both of us—Peter in New York, I in Wisconsin—went to bed worried. What if the sale was a bust? You never know. It would have been bitterly disappointing to sell only 40 prints—or, worse, 20, or ten.
The next day was...well, Peter described it as "really, one of the most exhilarating days of my life." Hundreds of orders came pouring in, and the sale was a resounding success. Ctein's first sale sold more in terms of numbers, but Peter's became our #1 sale in terms of earnings.
It's exciting to be a part of something like that (success is fun).
This time around, we're not so anxious—but that's allowed some other thoughts and considerations to come to the fore. You've heard me say this so many times that expressions about broken records might be coming to mind, but it's been gratifying to hear so many people tell us that our sales are the very first time they've ever bought an original photograph. One newly married couple comes to mind—I think they bought one of Charlie Cramer's beautiful prints. They said it was their first joint purchase of art as a couple. They hoped it wouldn't be their last. (That's an older married couple, in the picture. No word on whether it was their cat.)
So Peter and I got to thinking (and talking). Recently, on an unrelated matter, I sent a couple of prints to a supporter of the site and included a note that said "one to keep, one to give away!" Wouldn't it be nice if we could make it easy for you to give one of these Paris prints to one of your friends?
We can't do one-for-one—the prints just cost too much to produce. They're printed by Voya Mitrovic in Paris on premium gelatin-silver fiber-based paper; washed and flattened; signed both by Voya and Peter; Peter then flies them to New York, where they're boxed and shipped. And it all has to be done quickly. It's a lot of work.
But Peter still wants to be able to provide a print for you for free.
So here's what we're doing on Sunday. Anyone who buys three or more prints from the sale can have one more for nothing. No extra cost. Free.
Of course you can keep that last print for your own collection if you want to—we're not telling you what to do with your own property. But if you want to, we figured maybe this would make it easier for you to give one of these prints as a gift to someone important to you, maybe one of your non-photographer friends who you think might appreciate it. Or someone you know who might never see the sale here on TOP. Or maybe someone who would never consider buying original artwork for themselves, for whatever reason. Or someone you know who really wants one but can't afford $395 for one print.
This is one of the nice things about the Internet. If you think about it, what's Kickstarter? It's a way for ordinary people to become philanthropists. Oren Grad called it "micro-scale philanthropy." And that's exactly what it is. For $20 or $10 or even $1, you can contribute to causes and projects you believe in—meaningfully (believe me, it meant a lot to Carl Weese to get his summer project funded by so many generous people the other day. And 60% of his contributors arrived via TOP, so thanks for that). TOP sales, along with many other similar sources of art around the 'net, are ways for people to buy original artwork on a "micro" scale. We run these sales to make money, but doing something good along the way is a nice side-effect.
Well, anyway, I don't know how to end this. But Peter just made the final decision—he's in Cuba, and communication hasn't been easy—and I'm happy that we're actually going to do it.
Please tune in on Sunday afternoon, or Monday morning, for the sale announcement.
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