I'm going to write something a little risky but i am feel quite strongly about it. I have worked in the textile industry for 12 years now and and have seen trends ebb and flow, I have been through paisleys 3 times, Biba and 1920's deco twice and every rendition of animal print under the sun. I guess you could say I've been around the print block.
During my time working for three different print studios in London (2001-2006) our sales reps were in fierce competition with the other print studios. Between the reps however there was an unsaid line and understanding. That was that, original designs ALWAYS sold for $550-$650. This price would only be lowered if a customer was buying multiples say 3 prints at $500 each.
Then, oh no! 2008 hit and companies started cutting budgets for original prints and started rehashing archive prints. I saw this first hand at Nordstrom where in September 2007 during my visit to Indigo Paris I bought 11 pieces of art for different departments. Come the following February my budget was down to 3! Then they totally cut the cord. The designers were encouraged to trawl through our archives to rework designs or buy vintage at the lower price of $300. The vintage option was at first happily accepted by the in-house designers and a very attractive one until the trend of digitally printed photographic prints blew up–you can't find those in your grannies wardrobe!
With all this I truly believe the designers value for prints was depreciated. Many of the top studios in London went under due to lack of sales. It was really quite sad. However since 2010 a new wave of fresh studios have opened up. There seems to be new ones at every show. It appears from my sources, that many of these studios have been undercutting one another to make the desperately needed sales. This in my belief is adding to the dwindling appreciation of original textile designs. As a result I am seeing many textile designers resorting to churning out quantity rather than quality in the vain hope of making more sales to compensate for the lower $ value. I know times have been tough and it's easier to focus on the now, but we are playing with the potential future of purchased art as an industry. I'm asking all of us, designers, buyers and studio owners to respect the craft. You are selling and buying one off original textile designs outright, that should count for at least $550... if not more due to inflation over the past ten years.
With the cost of working as a freelancer increasing and the potential income dwindling, we may loose many talented artists to other disciplines such as graphic design, illustration and even user interaction design.
Please share your own perspectives on this challenging trend within textile and surface design, in the comments below.