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Art Prints—Finding The Best Value
You’re not in college anymore, and it’s time to take down the posters and replace them with original art. But, you don’t have the money yet for oils or watercolors. Art prints are an affordable alternative, yet they too can be pricey. How can you tell if that art print that’s caught your eye is more than just another pretty face?
Art prints are works of art in and of themselves, and may be handmade by artist-printmakers (artists’ prints), digitally printed (giclée), or photomechanical reproductions (offset lithographs).
Artists’ prints are handmade and are not reproductions of paintings: the print is a unique work of art. The term covers a range of printmaking techniques such as etching, woodcut, engraving, screenprint and linocut. Editions tend to be less than 200, partly because the materials used to make the prints wear out. This type of print is sometimes called an “original print.”
Limited edition reproductions are multiples copies of the same image, but produced in guaranteed limited numbers. This makes the image more exclusive. The market price can rise over time, if demand outstrips supply. Edition sizes vary but are limited by market forces, not by the physical constraints of the printmaking method. Most limited editions are signed and numbered in pencil by the artist with a commitment that no other reproduction of the image will be made.
An open-edition reproduction print can be produced in any quantity and the image may also be used in other ways, such as on tableware. Open editions tend to cost less than limited editions and are much less likely to increase in value.
Giclée prints are made using digital printing technology, usually inkjet. The technology enables users to produce small runs of prints. It also allows retailers to offer ‘print on demand’ services, where buyers select an image and it is printed out there and then.
Several factors influence the price of art prints:
Artist and Rarity
Editions, Signatures and Seals
Quality of Impression
In the end, it’s your own opinion of the value of the print that matters the most. You’ll be happiest with an art print that you personally like. Although art prints can sometimes be a good investment, the best way to get the most for your money is to enjoy it every day as it graces your home. The value of that? Priceless.
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