Milton Glaser Post Goes Viral – A Lesson for Not Limiting Giclees

The point is you never know what is going to happen to the work you create. Sometimes things can get legs and be in demand that you have never seen before. Knowing this dynamic works and is real is one of the primary reasons why I believe digital prints should not be sold in limited editions.

Secretofart Back in February of 2008, I wrote to ask the incomparable Milton Glaser for permission to republish his seminal speech give in 2001. It was titled 10 Things I Have Learned.

I had stumbled across it somewhere and was moved by the straightforward candid advice he gave to an AIGA gathering in London. I heard back from someone on his staff who not only gave permission, but also sent along the splendid image you see here.

It was around the time that The Secret
book and videos were going viral themselves. As such, the image was very timely and clever in many ways, which is a Glaser hallmark.

Two years later the Milton Glaser post goes viral

The post received an average amount of unique visitors and pageviews for the blog at the time. Fast forward to 2010 and it was picked up by a couple of influential and well trafficked illustration blogs and went viral getting thousands of hits.

Then just as things seemed to have returned to normal, it got picked up on Stumbleupon, which is a site developed to help you discover and share interesting websites. The post has had more than 9,000 hits on it just from Stumbleupon. This on top of the thousands that have come from other bloggers.

What you potentially limit the most with limited edition giclees is your income

The point is you never know what is going to happen to the work you create. Sometimes things can get legs and be in demand that you have never seen before. Knowing this dynamic works and is real is one of the primary reasons why I believe digital prints should not be sold in limited editions.

Just as I could not fathom more than 10,000 hits on a single blog post, you cannot judge how an image you reproduce as a giclee might sell. It is entirely possible you could create a print that would have enormous demand beyond your imagination. If the piece is limited, it can cost you and your heirs a tremendous amount of lost income. 

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About Barney Davey

I am an art marketing author, consultant, blogger and podcaster. I enjoy helping others understand and reach their potential. Follow me on and check out my art marketing e-store at


  1. though i’ve never had the pleasant problem of actually running out of a reproduced image, i came to the same conclusion a few years ago, and don’t plan on limiting any of my own images i produce any longer – it just was obvious that a million $5 prints would bring a lot lot more than a thousand $100 ones…plus it lets more people be able to enjoy an image they would like or need to have around them….

  2. Barney, I was surprised to hear your opinion on this – are you recommending against limited editions?

    I’m glad you brought this up, because I’ve been debating this issue with my artist husband. One of our new giclee distributors, a very wise and successful artist himself, has recommended that we offer limited editions. He has a slew of customers that prefer it.

    On the other hand, my husband says it’s a silly marketing ploy. He claims that a limited edition (particularly those in high numbers) isn’t worth much more than an open edition – that it’s all smoke and mirrors.

    I tend to agree with my husband on the reality of it, but, I also like to give collectors what they’re asking for. Perceived value is perceived value!

    We, too, had a surprise best seller. My husband’s painting titled PURE JOY, painted in 1998, (or was it 1999) went “viral”. We’ve sold over 1,000 lithographs of that image and it’s still a strong seller.

    I suppose if we wanted to, we could offer that same image as a limited edition in a different size, on giclee, and still sell the lithographs as an open edition.

    What are your thoughts on that approach? I’d love to hear more on this topic!

  3. I also believe that releasing art as limited editions can put an artificial limit on your creativity. I am a photographer, and my skills, technique and constantly improving, as is the technology I use. Whenever I revisit an older photograph, I find that I am able to refine it, improve it, and get it closer to what my original vision was. If I released these photographs as limited editions, I’d be prevented from ever revisiting and improving this older art.

  4. Peter Johnson says:

    I tend to agree, the print is only
    as good as the technology of today.
    I would include monitors, software, and printers.

  5. “revisiting and improving this older art” what sense would it make for an artist being cause over visual creation? She flows out new work at the greatest of, ingenious, ease. That would be some view I’d like to be considered more broadly. I feel you are quite right, that continuously improved work ranks higher in many aspects than using the “scarcity racket” or other. I think of, also, numbering one and the same print, as a kind of edition therefore, 1,2,3, etc. Honoré de Balzac was or perhaps still is renown for having edited his print over and over. But I was surprised he merely did it to stun his competition. This principle applied for sheer enthusiasm in the creative process alone I find worthwhile. We have not seen continuous numbered prints suggesting that the higher their numbers, the better they ought to come out in quality; if quality is the strategy. I wonder whether this is a viable notion, while I have abstained from limited editions thus far.

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