Everything You Need to Know About Limited Edition Prints

Art Wise

Purchasing art, specially paintings, can sometimes be a bit daunting. Many first time buyers find art inaccessible either because they don’t know much about it, or the costs are very high, especially when it comes to works of established, well-known artists. And this is where Prints can be a great alternative worth considering.

What are Prints?

Prints are reproductions of artworks (paintings), and they play a prominent role in making art more accessible. Just like original paintings, prints are made on different kinds of paper or canvas. Some of the more popular print-making techniques are lithography, serigraphy and giclee. Typically, the more manually intensive the process of making a print is, the more it costs.

With prints, great works of art can be made available for a larger audience to enjoy. There are 3 broad categories of prints available in the market:

  • Limited Edition signed prints (which are typically the most valuable)
  • No Edition signed prints
  • Open edition or No Edition unsigned prints (common parlance posters)

A print of the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da VinciUnsigned open edition prints of the famous 'Mona Lisa' are easily available at very low prices

Are prints sanctioned or permitted by the artist?

All authentic prints are created with the permission of the artist. The artist is the owner of the copyright, unless after 60 years of the demise of the artist, the image is no longer protected and can be used in reproduction (for e.g. prints of Da Vinci’s famous Mona Lisa are freely available today).

Are prints popular and easily available?

Prints are a popular art form, amongst both collectors looking for valuable, original works and those looking for a decorative reproduction. They have a market of their own. Some of the most reputed auction houses such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s have dedicated auctions of prints. Many renowned art galleries sell prints. A select collection of Limited Edition Prints is available on Artisera.

Limited Edition Prints of 'Jadoo' by Anjolie Ela Menon and 'I Could See London Through Clouds' by Arpita Singh Left: Print of 'Jadoo' by Anjolie Ela Menon, Right: Print of 'I Could See London Through Clouds' by Arpita Singh
Click to purchase on Artisera

What are Limited Edition Prints? How are they different from other prints?

A limited edition is a series of identical prints, limited to a one-time printing of a certain number of pieces, where the quantity is determined by the artist.

Due to the set limit on the number that can be produced, limited editions are very different from open edition prints, which are usually produced until the printing plate is worn out, or until demand for the print diminishes. A restricted, smaller number of produced prints often means that limited edition prints are significantly more expensive to purchase, and more valuable than open edition prints.

Limited edition prints are often signed and numbered by the artist, which helps to ensure authenticity, and also increases their value. For example, a print numbered as ‘59/100’ would be the 59th print in a production run of 100 prints.

Signed Limited Edition Print of 'Benaras' by artist Ram KumarSigned Limited Edition Print of artist Ram Kumar's 'Benaras', numbered 19/100
Click to purchase on Artisera 

What is a Serigraph?

Serigraphy, also known as silk-screen or screen-printing, is a superior print-making technique, akin to stenciling. The process of creating a serigraph is labour-intensive, and can take a long time to complete.

To create a serigraph, a piece of porous fabric such as silk, nylon or polyester, is used as the screen. This fabric is tautly stretched across a frame, and then negative areas of the image to be printed are blocked off the screen with a non-porous material. This creates the stencil. The screen is then placed over the paper, and ink is spread evenly over the screen. If the image calls for multiple colours, the process is repeated with a different stencil and ink colour. 

The thick opaque colours used in this process give these prints a textured feel, making it possible to actually feel the physical presence of the colours.

Limited Edition Serigraph of 'Women in Gossip' by artist Thota VaikuntamLimited Edition Serigraph of Thota Vaikuntam's 'Women in Gossip' printed in 38 colours
Click to purchase on Artisera 

Does the value of a limited edition increase like other collector’s items?

Since they are limited in number, demand for certain limited edition prints can be greater than the number of reproductions produced for the edition. Once an edition is sold out from the publisher that the artist authorized, a print may still be available from a dealer or an individual on the Secondary Market. This means prints can often be bought or sold above issue price, depending on supply and demand.

Signed Limited Edition Print of 'Horses' by Indian Artist M.F. HusainSigned Limited Edition Print of M.F. Husain's 'Horses', numbered 66/125
Click to purchase on Artisera

Can Prints be considered investments, just like original artwork?

Like with any other asset class, the future value of Prints is also uncertain. When buying, the more you know about the print, the better. Different factors to note are how the prints were made, whether the artist was involved in production, how many prints are in the edition, if the print is signed, and whether it comes with an authenticity certificate. Additionally, the price of the original art work and the reputation of the artist can also influence the existing and potential value of a limited edition print.

Signed Limited Edition Serigraph of a K.G. Subramanyan artwork depicting a lady and a dogSigned Limited Edition Serigraph of KG Subramanyan's untitled work
Click to purchase on Artisera

Which artists’ prints are extremely popular?

S.H. Raza and M.F. Husain amongst Indian artists, and Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Joan Miro, amongst international artists.

Limited Edition Print of S.H. Raza's most expensive painting, 'Saurashtra'Limited Edition Print of S.H. Raza's 'Saurashtra'; the original was sold for $3.48 mn, making it Raza's most expensive painting ever
Click to purchase on Artisera

Artisera offers a wide selection of Limited Edition Signed Prints with Authenticity Certificates of works by some of India’s most renowned artists, such as M.F. Husain, S.H. Raza, Ram Kumar, Jehangir Sabavala, Anjolie Ela Menon, A. Ramachandran, Thota Vaikuntam, Jogen Chowdhury, K.G. Subramanyan, Arpita Singh, Paramjit Singh, Akbar Padamsee, Jyoti Bhatt and others.

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