The number one thing I notice in a home is what’s on their walls. Whether it’s wallpaper, art or photographs, I’m seeing how a home owner designs their walls and shares who they are with what they display. As someone coming into their home it’s rare that I would be able to tell you which art are prints and which art originals but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t certain pros and cons to you as the buyer.
What to look for in Art Prints
Art prints are reproductions of an original piece. This means that the original was scanned or photographed and then reprinted onto paper or canvas. For artwork that isn’t made in a traditional material–print making, digital art, etc.– prints might be the only option for this art style.
I personally own mostly prints from artist because they are more affordable. Depending on the artist you can spend anywhere from $25-$500 for an art print whereas originals usually start closer to the $300-500 range and go up exponentially from there. The price comes down to a few key components that make it rare, high-quality, or both.
Limited Edition Prints
Limited edition prints mean that there are a decided number of prints that will be made and then they will never make that print again. These are often shown on the print itself with a number that dictates what print number it is out of the total number created (i.e. 5/60– the 5th print of a total of 60 prints made). The benefit of a limited edition print is that it does have a higher value if you decide to sell the print later on down the road. Because there are only a handful of these prints in the world, they’re rare and that makes them valuable. For this reason, limited edition prints are usually more expensive.
When it comes to art prints there are two words you’ll see a lot–Acid free and giclee prints. These two words only matter if you are hoping to pass this art down to the next generation. Any kind of print will most likely live through your lifetime as long as it’s framed in glass so that light, dust, and water can’t damage it. On the other hand, if you hope to have these pieces for multiple generations, or are looking to buy art as an investment, then these words are very important.
Acid free paper is an alkaline product made with modern technology. The benefit of archival acid-free paper is that it won’t yellow over time. It’s said to be able to last for 1000 years. With a high end print investment, this paper is important to keep the value of the work.
Giclee prints is a fancy was of saying it was printed with an inkjet printer. Inkjet printers apply ink to the surface of a paper while a laser printer uses toner which seeps under the surface. For the highest quality and most accurate coloring we look at inkjet printers. This type of printing is also said to make prints last multiple generations vs for your lifetime only. However, I’ve also heard from artist who have made laster printer prints 30-years ago and haven’t had them stored in glass, that they look brand new. So it’s a small detail to pay attention to and if the price is higher for the print, you’ll want to make sure it is a giclee print.
Looking For Prints For Your Space?
Popularity of the Artist
Whether you’re buying an original or a print, the popularity of an artist will be a huge factor of what the painting is worth. A well known artist can get away with pricing their artwork higher because they’ve built up an audience of collectors they know they can sell to. If you are just starting to build your art collection, purchasing from a highly popular artist might not be the place to start. Instead, you can find other artists locally or through social media that connect with you and offer art at a more affordable rate. At the same time, buying less expensive art means that there is no investment for the future of those pieces unless the up and coming artist you found hits it big!
Benefit of Originals
Original artwork is a pretty amazing thing to own. For one, it’s the piece that the artist literally put their soul into and so, from an energetic perspective, it’s pretty awesome. On top of that, original will always be worth way more than a print. Even if its from an up and coming artist. Someday, down the road that artist could hit it big and that original you bought for $100 could be worth thousands.
The top reason to own an original though is that more likely than not it will outlive any print reproduction made from it. Because of the materials used to make it, they are often the highest quality works. With that being said, finding out a little more about the materials used to create the piece will have an effect on it’s lifespan. Professional grade materials, acid-free papers, and any sealers used for the works will all have an effect on how long this original will last without needing any restoration. Asking the artist a few questions about their materials before making a purchase is a good investment protocal.
Should You Buy Prints or Originals
Let’s go back to my greatest life lesson–there is no should. Whether you buy prints or originals is a completely personal decision. By and large, a print, whether limited edition or not, will be cheaper than an original. If you’re on a budget and not ready to make huge investments in your art, then this is where you should start. You can also find some really affordable prints that allow you to make your home really feel like yours without breaking the bank. Check out my print shop where prints are just $35.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to invest in art and want something that will grow in value, you’ll want an original or at the very least, a limited edition print. This is where the value is in your art.
Lastly the type of art will make a bit of a difference in the pricing too. Artwork made with acrylics or oil paints are usually more expensive than artwork made with graphite or watercolor, because these materials are often more expensive. The size will obviously make a difference too when it comes to prints or originals. Many artist price their work on square inches and have a formula to calculate different sizes (at the very least they do this with prints, but many do it with originals too). The more square inches a piece is, the higher the pricing point will be.
Which ever you decide for your home, make sure you find art that connects with you personally and helps you tell a story that’s all your own.
Looking For Art that Adds Story + Creativity?
Shop Modern Magic and Update Your Space