Art Print

Investing in Print Art

Have you ever bought an art print?

Investing in Art Prints shares many similarities with investing to original art with a few major differences.

One of the biggest differences is cost. The cost of prints makes it possible for more people to begin consuming and collecting art. An original painting may sell for a price starting at a few to several thousand. A print could cost as little as a few hundred for a highly collected artist.

The sale of prints actually increases the value of an original painting.

Different Types of Print Art

There are different types of print art and each has a different value and cost.
  • Posters
  • Lithographs
  • Serigraphs or Silkscreen
  • Giclees


Posters are typically printed on a light weight paper and in numbers that make the production cost in the neighborhood of $1 each. Typically they are printed on four color off set presses. The majority of the expense that makes them so expensive is the shipping and handling and damaged goods that have to be thrown away.

If you ask gallery owners about the value of a poster they will most likely say they are worthless. If that is true, and it is unfortunate it is believed by some, then the posters from the past hundred years that fetch thousands at auctions would not sell.

An example would be the works of Toulouse-Lautrec. They were used as advertisements. If you ever saw a sign that said “Post no Bills” it was talking of no posting of Play Billings or other advertisements of upcoming shows. Thus the name posters.

Even modern art print posters by artist like Erte can fetch several times their original cost. I saw one that a college student threw away not knowing what they had. It had pin holes where they hung it on the wall. What made it special was the fact that it was hand signed. Damaged it still had value and was priced a few times its original price.

European and especially Italian art print posters have long used a technique just taking off in the US in recent years. It is called UV coating. More specifically it is called spot UV coating. So the shine from the urethane becomes a feature of the poster.

Giclée Art Prints are discussed in the next section.

Serigraph or Silkscreen

Originally using silk stretched on a wooden frame, modern materials make the screen. A resist that usually is produced with cameras, negatives, lights that burn the image into a material applied to the screen so that when cleaned, only the part that the ink is to go through the screen is exposed. Then the inks are squeegee over to create a print. Up to a hundred different screens can be used thus the name seri-graph.


Bev Doolittle holds the record at 69,000 art prints in what is called a time limited edition. The edition was sold prior to printing so the number was set by the orders taken. Typically four color off set presses and sometimes 6 color off set presses are used. In this type of printing, all are printed at once. A tremendous amount of handling is required when numbers reach the typical maximum of 2000.

One type of Lithograph that is often confused with the less expensive posters above is the Open Ended Lithograph. This type will often have graphic printing included with the art work. You will find such at the large box stores that sell art. Some high quality framing shops may carry some to take care of the segment of the market that wants less expensive art for their walls.

These typically have no investment value.

There are exceptions such as Erte who lived and produced into his 90’s and thus drove up his prices and value. The ones that have value are those that are produced by artist who have a following, do marketing, and regularly produce their art.

P Buckley Moss did a show at one of her dealers and with press releases (marketing) and articles about her, there was a line to get in to buy her works. She sold prints, posters, and collectables, many of them she signed right there. This dealer sold 100,000 dollars worth of art that day. I would guess one of her signed posters would be worth many times what someone paid for it back then.

The Choice is Up to You

Beyond this, art print choices are up to you to make.

Some artists like Thomas Kinkade and Yuroz are considered populist as opposed to museum quality. Museums will not take them. Galleries scorn them. They are millionaire artists because people like what they do and continue to buy them. Will their art be of value in the future or not, nobody can say.

Originals can fetch six figures and there is no question that they will continue to increase in value. There is only one original.

One thing that often makes Kinkade frustrating to other artists in the art print industry is that he will make numerous limited editions. In effect he has created a marketing plan that allows creating unlimited limited editions.

In the art print universe, the industry standard is no more than three limited editions. In the best case, each of the three editions will be listed on the three editions. So if you bought #150 out of 200 in a three different edition print it would be #150/ 200-200-200.

More to come...

Giclée Art Prints are discussed in the next section. It is the 4th of 8 parts.

Art Investment is the 1st of 9 parts.

Why Should I be Investing in Art is the 2nd of 9 parts in this thread.

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