Sunday, April 13, 2008

French Quarter artists cannot sell prints of their work …

Edited from an article by Bruce Eggler in the Times-Picayune:

Printmakers may have lost a round in their struggle for display space on Jackson Square's fence and sidewalks, but the battle is likely to continue, with the outcome very much in doubt. Rejecting the suggestion of U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle, the New Orleans City Council last week refused to change the law that says only original artworks can be sold on the coveted French Quarter turf, an al fresco gallery strolled by millions of tourists a year.

Artist Holly Sarre, who also sells her works on the Internet and at a local art gallery, filed a suit in federal court in March 2005 challenging the ordinance that allows sales only of works that "have been accomplished essentially by hand" and bans "any mechanical or duplicative process in whole or part."

Artist Marrus (see her art at tells the following story:

I was set up on Jackson Square, with my art, which includes both original paintings and prints of my work. There has been a small, vocal, older group that has a problem with artists selling prints, and they incorporated a few years back, said that they represented everybody, and have been getting money donated in the name of the "Jackson Square Artists," which they then use to harass the rest of us.

That harassment took the form today of a cop, flanked by two court administrators, going around checking everyone's licenses. I'm fine with that, and all my papers are in order, but then they commented that I wasn't supposed to be selling prints. I'm one of at least six artists who got whacked with this, and now we're all in a weird limbo.

So, the next time I went out on the Square …

I set up, sat down, and actually sold a few prints of my work. I was getting into my rhythm, talking art and spirit and passion with wonderful people from everywhere when a long blue shadow fell over the Square.

I looked a few sidewalk sections down to see at least four cops and a half dozen people with clipboards fanning out. I jumped up, not sure what to do, but it was too late. I was surrounded by police and court officials. My vendor number was taken, and my driver’s license information as well. One officer told me to go right on selling my prints, that he’d be back to either subpoena me or write me a ticket.

I don’t know what to do. I’m so frustrated. I moved to New Orleans, in large part, because I thought I could make a living as an artist here. Many of the artists are having their livelihood threatened by this ridiculous ordinance. I can see no valid reason that an artist shouldn’t be allowed to sell prints of her own work.

Why is it so easy for copper thieves and murderers, but so difficult for the good guys to survive?


jbv's Competitive Edge 


Blogger Angela G said...

Now, I understand that as an artist you would probably rather have someone purchase & bring home to love one of your Originals, however I would also think that the prints of said originals are the bread-and-butter of your operation, correct?
I have (and adore, by the way, thank you) one of Marrus' lovely prints, but at this time am not in a position to spend the money on an Original. I know I am not alone, so I would think that NOLA's rebuilding tourism department would be concerned with bringing in money & people to their area. Why, then, are they trying to exclude people who will do the buying of quality work at a lesser price, which really is artists' bread and butter? Sure, someone who will come in & spend thousands of dollars is great, but the people who come & spend lesser amounts are the more common variety of the species.
Are New Orleans officials trying to shoot their own feet?

10:47 AM  
Blogger Elkor said...

I can understand where the council is coming from. They don't want someone buying prints from an artist and then reselling them.

But to expect artists to only carry their original artwork at an outdoor venue is a little rediculous.

It seems like the law needs to be refined to state that only the original artist can sell prints.

2:16 PM  
Blogger maniot said...

Day by day,Law and Order becomes a funny thing.Its because most orders are coming against the people.
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7:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know it sounds like artist are being wronged by the city of New Orleans, but this is not what it’s is about. I am an artist on the Jackson Square and am very against the selling of prints on the Square! Here’s why, for the past 75 plus years the Jackson Square has been the only place in New Orleans or for that mater in the country where an artist can hang, paint and engage with there customers all in one place. Also it has been a place where young artist can come and talk to working artist and learn from them for FREE. My sales of real art have dropped severely because of the print sales. It is the law of supply and demand. Why would a buyer pay $150 for my painting when they can buy a print for $20 bucks. The print sellers can sell there print at dozens of places in the city. I can only sell original art on the Square. Sure I can put my art in a gallery and lose 60% of its sale price and go hungry. The city is protecting me from the print sellers who are only in it for the money. They would kill the goose that laid the golden egg all for there own greed. There are a few print shops right there on the Jackson Square. The artist that want to sell there prints can put them in the shops and walk a buyer right to the shop if that buyer wants a print of there work. The artist against prints on the Jackson Square are trying to preserving the distinctive charm, character and “tout ensemble” of the French Quarter. We don’t want see it become a tee shirt and print flee market. Picture this, the Jackson Square is the crown of New Orleans and all that real art work is like beautiful gem stones decorating it. Our tourist guest and locals deserve to see extraordinary real art not ordinary prints hanging on the Jackson Square! Lets keep the Jackson Square about quality not quantity.

9:41 AM  

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