The Art of Collecting Prints

Thinking of starting an art collection? Think Prints.

Prints offer a fantastic opportunity to collect and enjoy works of art by your favourite artists without the expense, or often near impossibility of acquiring a one-off work like a painting. Many artists use printmaking as a space to experiment, so some of these artworks can be a valuable insight into the often unseen side of an artist’s process. Although a work might be produced multiple times, each copy is an expression of the artist's original idea, and an excellent opportunity for aspiring collectors.

What is an edition?

The total number of copies made by an artist from a print is what is referred to as the ‘edition’. Your edition number (usually found in the lower margin) tells you how many impressions of a work were made, and where your print sits within that number. For example, the number 6/50 indicates that the edition contains 50 prints in total, and that your print is the 6th.

Is it worth collecting reproduction prints?

While an original print is a valuable acquisition, don’t dismiss reproductions as an opportunity to live with an artwork you particularly love. It’s important to ensure your print comes from a reputable printmaker and has the seal of approval from the artist or their estate - but originality needn’t always trump the joy a particular work can bring into your home.

Looking after your prints

To ensure your print can be enjoyed by you and the coming generations, it’s important to keep a few key points in mind:

  • Framing is vital. Many of the environmental factors that cause damage to paper might be largely mitigated by good quality framing with archival, acid-free materials.

  • Play it safe by keeping your print away from direct sunlight. This can cause fading, discolouration, or brittleness - and there’s often no reversing the damage. 

  • If you can’t frame your print immediately, then keep it flat, in a cool, dry environment; ideally far from pests. You don’t want silverfish enjoying your print before you can. 
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