4 Great Reasons to Start Collecting Limited Edition Prints

Art Wise

The world of fine art is vast and diverse in every sense. Contrary to popular belief, it is not just limited to painting, drawing, and sculpture. Fine art prints make up their own distinct category and are becoming increasingly popular. A sub-category within art prints, limited edition prints are a series of identical prints, limited to a one-time printing of a specific number of pieces, the quantity of which is determined by the artist. From lower price points to diversity in options, the upsides to buying fine art prints are manifold. Here are four good reasons why you should start collecting limited edition art prints:

A signed limited edition print by S.H. Raza; click to purchase on Artisera

1. Easy on the Pocket

One of the most alluring reasons to buy fine art prints is that they are more cost-efficient when compared to one-of-a-kind artworks. Many factors influence the price of a limited edition print, from the edition size, to how big the artwork is, or the medium used in printmaking.

Limited edition prints make the works of great masters more affordable to art lovers, young buyers or emerging collectors, who may not be able to afford the astronomical price points of one-of-a-kind artworks by these highly acclaimed artists. For those starting out an art collection, or even adding diversity to an existing collection, prints become a great way of owning an artwork by very acclaimed or highly promising artists, for a fraction of the price of a unique work.

Two Horses, a signed serigraph by M.F. Husain; click to purchase on Artisera

2. Investment Worthy

Just like unique original artworks, the value of limited edition prints can also increase over time, making them worthy of investment. As prints in an edition get sold out, the prices of the remaining prints in the edition may witness a hike. Prices can also increase with a spike in the reputation or growth of an artist. In fact, leading auction houses such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s have held many auctions focused entirely on prints. In 2010, Sotheby’s set a record for one of the most expensive prints ever sold at an auction, when a Pablo Picasso etching ‘La Minotauromachie’ (1932) sold for a whopping $1.98 million.

La Minotauromachie, an etching by Pablo Picasso (Source: Sotheby's)

Internationally, Andy Warhol revolutionized the art market by creating some of his most important works in the form of prints. During his time, many of the limited edition artworks Warhol created were affordable to almost everyone. However, over the years, they have come to command tens of millions of dollars at auctions. Banksy is another artist whose international acclaim and media impact in the 21st century has led to a steep rise in the value of his fine art prints. His editioned serigraphs ‘Christ with Shopping Bags’ and ‘Love is in the Air’ rocketed in sales prices to touch $20,000 each when they were auctioned at Bonhams in 2012.

Love is in the Air, a serigraph by Banksy (Source: artsy.net)

While the Indian art market is still in the early stages of understanding and investing in prints, as many of India’s modern and contemporary artists continue to fetch higher prices at auctions, it is only a matter of time before prints prove themselves to be lucrative investment options. 

3. Wide Variety of Options

Serigraphs, lithographs, woodcuts, engravings, linoleum cuts, etchings, giclee and offset prints are various kinds of prints available in the art market. Different techniques used in printmaking result in various textures and finish of prints, thereby adding great diversity to the world of art prints. While some collectors focus on collecting a particular kind of print, many others explore different mediums to add variety and diversity to their art collection.

Woodcut printmaking (Source: The Contemporary Austin)

While it is not necessary to study the technicalities of different printmaking techniques, learning about the processes can enrich your appreciation of these artworks and in turn, be one of the great joys of buying prints. For example, a woodcut print that has 20 colours would be composed using 20 different hand-carved woodblocks, one for each colour. The evidence of this labour-intensive process can be found by looking closely at the artwork or simply by asking your art print dealer.  These stories add to the value of the work itself, and make for intriguing information to be shared later with those who show interest in your collection.

4. Limited Edition Prints are ‘Original’ Artworks

Prints are often looked down upon by high-brow art enthusiasts as mere copies or reproductions which are not ‘original’. However, limited edition prints aren’t reproductions of original artworks; they are artworks which are made in the form of prints by artists. Printmaking techniques enable artists to produce multiple versions of the same work, which are referred to as an edition. While editioned prints are not unique, they are still original artworks, just like paintings, drawings, or sculptures.

Bhavna, a signed limited edition offset print by Manjit Bawa; click to purchase on Artisera

As opposed to limited edition prints, open edition prints are usually produced until the printing plate is worn out, or until demand for the print diminishes. The restricted, smaller number of prints makes limited edition prints significantly more expensive and valuable than open edition prints. Limited edition prints are also often signed and numbered by the artist, making them original, and adding to their authenticity and value in the art print market. 

A signed limited edition giclee print by Akbar Padamsee; click to purchase on Artisera

Affordability, investment-worthiness, variety and originality are some of the most important factors which could steer you towards investing in and collecting limited edition prints. So, if you are an aspiring art collector weighing the option of investing in limited edition prints, ponder no more – go ahead with that first purchase with confidence and enjoy the diverse, intriguing world of fine art prints.

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