Counter culture

Fancy a Tracey Emin hanging in your bedroom, or a Gary Hume in your hallway? Find out how Counter Editions and Independent can turn you into an art collector
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The Independent Online

White gloves - a signifier in the art world for something of value, something that needs careful handling. And white gloves are what you will find when you open a package from Counter Editions - a new company that produces ultra high-quality, limited-edition prints of artworks from some of the best names in contemporary art.

White gloves - a signifier in the art world for something of value, something that needs careful handling. And white gloves are what you will find when you open a package from Counter Editions - a new company that produces ultra high-quality, limited-edition prints of artworks from some of the best names in contemporary art.

The white gloves are a clever touch, and an indication that Counter Editions is not like other multiple art suppliers. Many companies promise ordinary mortals like us access to the rarefied world of art collection, but until now no one has actually delivered in the right quantity, or quality, at the right price. The people behind Counter Editions, Carl Freedman, Kate McGarry and Matthew Slotover, have all been involved in the art world for the last 10 years, and have forged bonds with the artists whose work we want to own. (Their New York bureau is manned by Neville Wakefield, who is similarly well connected.)

The idea is a simple one, but stunningly effective - dreamt up in January 2000 by Matthew, 31, who created, and is now publisher of, the prestigious art magazine Frieze, and Carl, 35, who since curating a very early Damien Hirst show has collaborated with many leading names in contemporary art. Their artist friends and acquaintances had often talked of wanting a wider audience to have access to their work. The artists' own dealers and galleries concentrate on single sales of originals and do not produce low-cost editions on this scale. There was an opportunity - and Counter Editions was born. Kate McGarry, 30, joined the company more recently, and has previously worked at the Habitat art club and Frieze. "The galleries would never do this themselves, and they are glad that it's happening with trusted and knowledgeable people," says Matthew.

The artists are each commissioned to produce an original piece, and oversee the process by which is it transformed into a high-quality print edition (or in the case of the forthcoming Jake and Dinos Chapman edition, a sculpture). The editions, each of 300, are exclusive to Counter Editions. Work can be bought unframed, or framed by a fine art specialist, working to the frame choice of the artist. Each piece will, of course, be signed and numbered by the artist.

And what a range of artists. In addition to the initial array of eight that we profile here, new names will be added each month, such as the Chapmans, Rachel Whiteread and Peter Doig. All of the artists (of the first eight, two are Turner Prize winners and a further three past nominees) have a strong international reputation. The canny collector could have a houseful within a year. The price of each unframed edition is £295, a remarkably generous figure for sought-after work of this calibre. Readers of The Independent Magazine and users of the Independent website will be able to buy a limited number at that price - however, as the number of editions available falls and demand increases, the price may go up.

It's a very modern concept, run by modern people. And so, of course, it has a modern way of selling, via the Internet. "As a place to view art, a website is not as good as a gallery but, and here's my sales pitch, it means we can pass the saving on to the customer," says Matthew with a grin. The website is beautifully designed and utterly straightforward. The Counter Editions team agree that the three benchmarks of their company are "trust, quality and consistency". "This is about making art, not reproductions," adds Carl emphatically. They don't deny that dealing with the artists, printers and framers is not without difficulties - but the dazzling quality of the result speaks for itself.

How to buy an exclusive edition

Readers of The Independent Magazine and users of the Independent website can buy the featured artworks from Counter Editions at the guaranteed launch price of £295 each. There are 20 of each artist's edition reserved for our readers and they are offered on a first come, first served basis for 10 days from today, Saturday 30 September. Log on to www.countereditions.com/independent then follow the instructions on the screen to buy the edition of your choice. You are limited to one of each edition. You can buy the editions online with a Mastercard, Visa, Delta, JCB, Switch or Solo card. Alternatively you may order by telephone on 020-7209 0326 or by fax on 020-7927 8334. The Internet site supports secure transactions. Credit card numbers are encrypted using the latest 128-bit encryption, making them unreadable to outside sources.

Unframed prints are sold at £295, including all packaging and courier delivery to any UK address. Delivery is within seven working days. Framed prints are sold from £400, including all packaging, a hanging device and delivery. Delivery is within 21 working days, and made via the UPS Express service. Counter Editions offers a 14-day, money-back guarantee if your edition or frame arrives damaged in any way. Please e-mail returns@countereditions.com or call 020-7209 0326 to arrange the return. Returns must be made in the original packaging. Responsibility for all transactions is with Counter Editions. Readers not among the first 20 may still purchase an edition - however, there is no guarantee that they will still be at the launch price. For full terms and conditions, and any other enquiries, see the countereditions.com website, telephone 020-7209 0326 or e-mail info@countereditions.com

Jeff Burton Untitled (Swim Trunks), Cibachrome print, 29 x 44cm, or framed with photograph laminated between two layers of Perspex with polished edges, 29 x 44cm

Mat Collishaw Flesheater 4, Silkscreen; 10 colours and one glaze, 74 x 87cm, or framed in maple sprayed with deep plum matt lacquer and glazed in 3mm clear Perspex, 79 x 91cm

Tracey Emin Dog Brains, Silkscreen; one colour, one glaze, 76 x 102cm, or framed in a five-sized perspex cover, with print float-mounted on acid-free white board, 77 x 103cm

Gary Hume The Cleric, Silkscreen; six colours, two glazes, 69 x 94cm, or framed in maple sprayed with soft white matt lacquer and glazed with 3mm clear Perspex, 76 x 102cm

Chris Ofili Regal, Combination of silkscreened, glow-in-thedark ink, and four-colour lithograph, 29 x 40cm or framed in maple sprayed with soft white matt lacquer and glazed in 3mm clear Perspex, 36 x 48cm

Elizabeth Peyton Thursday (Tony), Lithographic print on pearlescent base, 62 x 49cm or framed in maple sprayed with soft white matt lacquer and glazed in 3mm clear Perspex, 66 x 53cm

Gillian Wearing My Man, Silkscreen; 17 colours and one glaze, 75 x 100cm, or framed in maple sprayed with semi-transparent pink lacquer and glazed in 3mm clear Perspex, 84 x 109cm

Christopher Wool Silkscreen; seven colours, 76 x 102cm or framed in metal sprayed off-white, float-mounted on acid-free white board and glazed in 3mm clear Perspex.

We would like to thank Ben Weaver at art facilitators General Assembly for co-ordinating this project.

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