Beside the "evil" that marketing mass prints may have on the fine art market, having the "option" of prints actually encourages many artists to give a painting the amount of time it may deserve to be completed in its full aesthetic conception. If an artist knows he is likely NOT to sell an original for over $700 ...the tendency will then be to calculate how much time he/she could reasonable afford to put into the work. If the artist sees he's going to end up making about 25 cents per hour...the reality of living will discourage future such works. Thus, with all the ills we may perceive the print industry to have caused, it has given many artists the license to set aside inhibitions for a lengthy engagment creatively. The artist is free to discover just what their capability and potential for an image is given no restrictions of time are placed upon him. The idea being, prints could be made of this expensive and time consuming piece that the common buyer could afford.
For works that can be produced quickly, concerns of this nature are less important. I've gone from the 200-300 hour images to 1-1/2 to 2 hour plein air paintings. Thus, I can paint two paintings in one day if I am so inclined....and fortunately for me after nearly 25 years of paintings I am now making in a 2 hour painting what I used to make in a 100-150 hour painting. Unfortunately, the sacrifices most artists make to get to that point usually sees them having lost their marriage, contact with their kids, contact with the world. -Larry