We created Easely as a way for people to collect art without paying the gallery price tag. Because our limited edition prints and many other prints for sale can be purchased for under $100, many are curious to know if art prints are worth anything.
Note: Let's just quickly clarify that in this article we are referring to reproduction art prints, not original art prints, such as linocuts or etchings - which require the artwork to be hand-printed using ink each time.
How do you know if an art print is worth buying?
If you're interested in collecting art, or simply want a unique piece, here are some questions to ask:
- Is it part of a limited edition or an open edition?
- Is it professionally reproduced and printed?
- Is there proof of the artist's creation?
- Is the artist building their brand?
Many artists will only release a limited amount of prints of an original work. This limited edition quantity helps drive up the value of each print, however the number of prints in a set also matters.
As a rule of thumb, having a set of under 100 prints in a limited edition will help keep it’s value. Artists will do sets of 200 or more, some do thousands - which flaunts the limited edition tag just a little bit.
An open edition just means having an unlimited number of prints, which sees these pieces fetch much less than their limited counterparts due to their availability.
This is the essential part of a print. No matter how rare the print is or which artist created it, if it hasn’t been reproduced or printed properly it’s not worth your money.
Reproducing the original artwork into a digital file:
To create a digital file of the original artwork, a studio will need to create a high end artwork scan, using either flatbed scanners or photography to capture an artwork. They also set it up properly for print too, making sure the colours match and a whole lot more. The difference between an artwork that uses this process and one where the artist tries to scan or photograph themselves is huge. As a benchmark, we use Vision Image Lab for our artwork reproduction.
Printing onto museum-grade paper:
No Officeworks print job will do here. Your print needs to stand the test of time, and for that it needs museum-grade paper. This is where it can get complicated, because there are so many different paper stocks out there, and the best choice will differ between the art type. For example, the best paper for a photograph is not what’s best for a print of an acrylic painting. Make sure the print you're buying uses a fine art giclée printing process. We use Poster Factory.
You need to be able to prove your piece is an official print of the artist’s original. A signature is typical for this, but at Easely we provide a Certificate of Authenticity instead - either will do the job. A certificate is handy because it provide more detail, including the date and size of the print, which will help determine its value in years to come!
Stamps are also a nice branded addition, and we stamp all our pieces as ‘Easely Certified’.
Proof of creation almost definitely doubles the value. You want to be sure you’re not just purchasing some knock off.
The value of a print will increase if the artist’s profile does. This one is obviously harder to identify than the above, but there's some simple desktop research you can do to see if the artist is working to build their presence.
See if they have an Instagram profile, even if they only have a small following for now. Do some quick scrolling or research to see if they’ve exhibited their art, or even better… won awards for it. Any other information that indicates they’re serious about their work is good too.
There you have it! If you're serious about starting an art collection but want to do it on a budget, art reproduction prints are a great place to begin. These are the four basic questions to ask, but there are definitely many others. For example, the broader art trends at the time, or if the piece comes professionally framed. Good luck on your art journey, and hopefully we can be part of it.