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20th anniversary of turning pro!

Posted by Dave Bull at 10:11 AM, June 20, 2009

(Item from the Spring issue of my newsletter.)

This season [today!] marks a particular milestone for my printmaking work. In early 1989 I was just at the very beginning of my long Hyakunin Isshu print series. I had finished the first couple of prints, but hadn't given too much thought as to exactly how to go about getting them out into the world.

One day that spring, without really knowing if it would come to anything, I prepared a small pamphlet describing my project and sent it out to some media outlets.

Somewhat unbelievably to me, some of them called and came for interviews, and over the next couple of weeks, I was featured in a few TV reports and newspaper stories. One of these was in a newspaper in our own area, and this was seen by the Cho family, owners of our neighbourhood bakery.

And on the 20th of June that year (yes, of course I have good bookkeeping records!) they became my first collectors, with their purchase of the first two prints in the series.

I rather doubt that they will be remembering this date, but it's not something I'll ever forget!

And do you know, 20 years on, they are still with me ...

Cho-san, thank you again!

Just for fun ...

... let's add things up! Here are the totals of prints sold over that time period, for each of my series (as of today, and not including complimentary sets (family, publicity, etc.)).

Hyakunin Isshu12,300
Surimono Albums7,380
Beauties of 4 Seasons385
Treasure Chest4084
Scroll project59
Small print Collection602
My Solitudes714

I've made a lot more than this of course, as my drawers here are still full of prints, and this ignores things like the new year cards (200+ copies going out every year), but anyway, that's what has been sold.


Dave, so how much does that all come to (I mean for your income)?

That's tough to answer, as money values change, etc. etc. But a basic answer is easy, because my prices have never changed over the time period, so a simple multiplication will give a result. Here are the numbers, with the $ amounts simply being the yen totals converted with today's exchange rate (95.82 yen per US dollar).

Hyakunin Isshu123,000,0001,283,656
Surimono Albums44,280,000462,116
Beauties of 4 Seasons4,812,50050,224
Treasure Chest8,168,00085,243
Scroll project2,950,00030,787
Small print Collection1,204,00012,565
My Solitudes5,712,00059,612

Look at that! Nearly 2 million dollars! Although such a 'translation' is pretty much meaningless; if you re-calculate it with an exchange rate from just last week, it's already over that milestone ...

But yeah; it does feel kind of nice! If you had predicted these numbers for me back on June 20th 1989, I would have - of course - thought you were a lunatic ...


Following comment posted by: jennifer kelly on June 24, 2009 9:04 PM

Fantastic achievement! Totally inspiring.

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