What Different Prints Can You Buy?

May 24, 2021 • by S&P Gallery

When it comes to collecting prints and multiples, choosing the right artwork can easily feel daunting.

We've condensed everything you need to know about print editions, materials, and print processes to help you navigate your next purchase successfully.

Why Do Artists Make Prints and Editions?

This boils down to two primary reasons, market visibility and affordability.

Market Visibility

Prints or reproductions serve to share the artist's work on a much larger scale than would be possible with a single edition. In many instances, these prints are often used in boutique hotels or used in the trade world for investment purposes.

Affordability

It’s also a way to share the artist's work on a much more affordable scale. A limited-edition print will only ever be a fraction of the price of the value of the original, whilst still providing the artwork with all the features and unique characteristics found with the original.

Therefore it can benefit the artist a great deal, as they're expanding their customer base and letting people have the opportunity to buy into their art which previously couldn't. However, not all prints will be the same price; there are factors like signatures, editions, printmaking process, and more that can influence an artists' print work price.

Originals vs. Editions and Multiples

When you are looking to buy a print, you can be faced with the challenge of buying an original, edition, or multiple.

Original

First of all, an original print is very similar to an initial painting an artist has created. It's not a mechanically created print and has just as high value. All original prints have been created by hand, either by pencil, ink or paints. It's not a reproduction and is made by hand. 

Several factors can influence the cost of an original print, like the signature by the artist or the condition. Those that are hand-signed tend to be more expensive. You can also detect if a print is authentic or not by seeing if it is an artist's proof. This is an original version created by the artist just for test purposes and is often highly sought after as there is only one version. Usually, an artist proof will have A/P written on the print to signify this. 

Editions

An edition is several types of the same print used from the same matrix or matrices, otherwise known as printing surfaces. The editions can often be limited, with only a select few made usually displayed with a number. 

Whereas there also can be open editions, meaning there's no limit to production.

Multiples

Multiples are 3D works of art are created in a defined edition. The materials used to make them can be infinite in number. Typical examples of multiple printworks are ceramics made by Picasso and KAWS companions.

Types Of Printmaking Processes

Prints are unique because there are a lot of ways they can be created, which are:

Lithographs

Lithographs are created using the lithography method, otherwise known as stone drawing. This process involves the artist using a metal plate or a flat polished stone. The artist will draw an image onto an oily stone or plate. 

The objects have to be oily, so the ink can easily stick to them. Then with the help of a printing press, the design is gently placed onto paper. The result leaves the ink looking like it's lying on the paper instead of being raised or embossed.

Screenprint

A print created using a screen made from fabric that is stretched tightly across a frame. Most of the time, screenprints use acrylic paint, which gives them a bright and distinctive appearance. 

Digital Print

This method involves creating a print using an electronic file and then printing the image onto a range of different types of material.

Others

Alongside all of the above, there are also many other printing methods. First of all, there is a woodcut, where ink is applied to a block of wood using a rubber roller and then printed onto paper. There is also a collagraph which is a collage of many materials stuck to a printing plate. 

Engraving involves making incisions into a metal plate that retains ink and produces a printed image. Moreover, etching involves chemicals to create lines into a metal plate that holds ink and produces an image. Finally, the monotype consists of a painting or drawing made on a smooth surface.

Types Of Materials

Prints can come on a range of different materials, which are:

Paper

The type of paper for prints is essential, as it can influence what the final version will look like. Some artists prefer printing on thick paper and others thin paper. A common example is Andy Warhol printing on thin paper for his soup prints. 

Canvas

This is a plain-woven fabric that is durable and comes in two types: basic and duck. Artists use this for prints with oil paintings and drawings.

Giclee

A high-quality print using an inkjet printer spraying colours and ink which precisely match a digital image. The prints produced are high resolution and capture the finest of details. 

Gouttelette 

A printing system that prints reproductions of the original print with high precision and high quality, exclusively coined by Rosenstiels. These prints are published to match the same specifications, sizes, shape and material as the original one.