Are Art Prints Worth Anything? Or Are You Wasting Your Money (2022)

As a collector of art prints and as an artist who produces my own art prints for sale, I am personally on the fence about this question, many times I have wanted to buy a print and I ask myself “are art prints worth anything”?

There are many reasons as to why art prints can be worth something but that can’t be applied to ALL art prints.

Are art prints worth anything?

The simple answer is yes they can be valuable investments for both the art lover and collector and as well as for the artist but not all art prints are valuable.

The value of art prints depends on scarcity and availability as well as popularity, quality and affordability.

With any sort of market where value depends on supply and demand it comes down to the buyer because with art prints, there will be more supply than demand for modern prints.

Some collectors even complain and ask why are art prints so expensive? The answer here is that they are purchasing from a popular collection or artist such as William Russell Flint signed prints.

Fine Art prints should not be too cost prohibitive.

Are Art Prints Worth Anything? Or Are You Wasting Your Money (1)

Who Buys Art Prints

The types of people who buy art prints are:

  • Art Collectors
    • Investors
    • Fans (fans of artists or genre fans)
  • Gift giving or professional decorators

Art collectors

Art collectors fall into two categories – investors and fans. Depending on the type of collector, they will either over pay for a print and potentially waste their money or they will be very specific in the type of print they purchase and who they will buy their print from, not to mention the artist they are buying.

Investors will be more calculated in the purchase of a print. They are either collectors of a specific art style or genre or they collect works from a specific artist. Investors will also usually buy from a reputable network or art dealer.

Rarely will you see an investor purchase prints online unless they are looking for an undiscovered or undervalued gem.

They will also be looking for some proof of authenticity such as a reputable certificate of authenticity (I will go into more detail further in this article).

Fans are usually the next type of buyer to invest in art prints. This type of buyer is less sophisticated than a professional collector or investor.

Fans tend to follow an artist, usually on social media such as Instagram and they love to interact with the artist, go along their journey and feel a sort of bond with them as they watch them grow.

On a personal level, while I am an artist I also am a fan and I follow a few semi-known artists who are either breaking out into mainstream or are on the precipice of fame.

Three of these artists produce their own prints and you can purchase them directly from the artist or from their online store.

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Fans tend to know the artists work well and they usually buy art prints as well as original art directly from the artist, reinforcing that bond.

One artist I follow spends the entire year on Instagram taking his fans on the journey as each artwork is produced and only opens up his online store 3 times a year to sell his hand signed limited edition prints directly to fans.

These same fans who snap up every copy of everything he prints on a Giclée printer.

Are these works valuable? To his fans they are and who knows, one day they may have a place in mainstream art but for the moment people enjoy owning something he has made and are not expecting a monetary return in the short term.

If you want to know the difference between a Giclee and a Print, head over to my other post where this is explained in a little more detail.

Another artist I follow has seen him cross over from an indie artist to almost mainstream overnight when he illustrated the cover of a rapper’s album. His prints went from US$40 each to almost double and now rising quite rapidly.

While there is value in the prints for the artist, there will still be some time before the prints in the hands of fans will be worth much more than the purchase price.

I am a fan of Norman Lindsay and many years ago I got a chance to visit his former home and art gallery in the Blue Mountains near Sydney Australia.

While I could not afford to purchase an original work of his I did manage to purchase a print of an etching.

At the time I had no idea about art prints and paid AU$700 for the work believing it was a print from an original etching plate.

I love the work and don’t regret buying the art print as it reminds me of my trip and proudly sits in my study. Is the art print itself valuable?

I would say after 10 years it is now worth about $800. Adjusting for inflation, I could have made more money investing in the stock market.

As it was not signed by the artist but a limited edition print reproduction manufactured after the artists’ death, they tend to be less valuable.

Are Art Prints Worth Anything? Or Are You Wasting Your Money (2)

Gift Giving or Professional Decorators are the types of buyers who are looking at buying either mass produced prints of little to no value or buying the rights to an image.

They tend to purchase what suits a wider story or what they believe someone else may like.

In short, they are not a good guide as to what is valuable.

What are Art Prints?

Art prints have been around as long as art itself, from my research it first originated in China in the 1st Century AD. Art prints are basically reproductions of an original work of art using various methods and tools.

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Depending on the method selected by the artist, there is different value assigned to the art print itself.

Not all prints are created equally.

Do The Types of Art Prints Affect Value?

Art prints are a part of the fine art technique called Traditional Printmaking and most recently include digital printing, screen-printing and photography.

I won’t go into too much detail about each now as I each type of print method deserves its own article.

  • Woodcut
  • Engraving
  • Etching
  • Lithography
  • Screen-printing
  • Monotype
  • Monoprint
  • Digital Printing
  • Foil Imaging
Are Art Prints Worth Anything? Or Are You Wasting Your Money (3)

Most of the lower priced Art Prints you buy today are either made as digital prints, photographic prints or screen prints.

Older methods such as Woodcut, engraving, etching and lithography tend to require a lot of work by the artist and can be treated as an original work. These are much more valuable and usually a good investment.

When you are searching for an art print to buy or you have spoken to a dealer or the artist themselves they may be offering you many options at different price points.

Price points based on whether the prints are Limited Edition or Open Edition prints.

They could offer you Signed or Unsigned Prints and you could be wondering what it all means.

To make things easier for you I will be answering the following questions you may have as these will affect the value of the art print and may prevent you from wasting your money.

How to find the value of art prints is a difficult exercise, you may search for similar prints online such as on eBay or in gallery catalogues or you can start by doing a search based on the artist.

Are Art Prints Worth Anything? Or Are You Wasting Your Money (4)

How Much are Art Prints Worth – Are Limited Edition Art Prints More Valuable?

A limited edition art print is a print made from one plate for a fixed number of copies and usually in a low number range of copies.

Limited Edition should also mean that no more copies would be made from that plate or run.

Most artists produce only limited editions, usually signed by the artist in pencil.

Limited Edition prints numbering usually start from 1 and are sequential and end at the last print made.

Your print should show numbering such as 55/70 where 55 is the print you own and 70 represents the total print run.

These tend to be worth more than Open Edition art prints.

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How much are Art Prints Worth – Are Open Edition Art Prints Worth Anything?

Open Edition Art prints are usually produced in the same manner as a limited edition print but this time they are not limited in the number made and usually have no numbering (as it could be to infinity) and usually are unsigned by the artist.

These tend to be low value. They can be printed for many years over and over.

What are Signed Prints?

Signed prints are actually signed by the artist and usually are part of a limited edition print run.

What are Unsigned Prints?

Unsigned prints are usually mass produced prints and the artist has not signed the work. Be wary of unsigned prints being sold with a fake signature or print run number.

Do a Google search for other prints in the signed print run to see if there are no duplicates of the number you purchased and that the signature is the same as the others.

Are Artists Proofs Even More Valuable Than Limited Edition Art Prints?

Artist proofs are usually part of a limited edition signed print run and usually number in the low range such as 20 prints.

They are basically the results of test prints by the artist to ensure that the larger print run will be to a quality they expect.

Artist proofs are usually worth more than the limited edition signed editions of art prints as they can have characteristics that can make them quite unique, much like an original artwork.

Is an ‘After an Artist’ Print Worth Buying?

After an Artist print is usually a print that is made following a skilled artist reproducing an original work of art. They are not fakes but usually authorised reproductions.

This is what I had purchased when I purchased my Norman Lindsay. It even came with a certificate of authenticity!

Should I Buy Reproductions of Prints vs. Original Art Prints?

Reproductions have been made for many years. In older times, artists would have their apprentices produce reproductions of their own work so it is nothing new.

As I mentioned earlier, even After an Artist print is a reproduction and just as valuable as some originals.

Though these days, technology has made it much easier to churn out reproductions of artworks to look like original prints.

If you are looking to buy art prints that are valuable and retain their value then what you want are prints made by the actual artist i.e. original art prints, which are hand-signed and/or numbered.

If you are a fan or simply want something nice to hang on the wall then some mass-produced copy in color labelled “Limited Edition” will do. Just don’t expect to make your money back.

Original art prints tend to be hand signed and numbered, usually in a different medium to the art itself such as pencil.

Original art prints hand signed by the artist tend to also be lower in numbers, they usually make less than 100 items for sale.

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Conclusion

If you already own some prints or want to do a price comparison, you can start by calling local art dealers or have a look at https://www.artprice.com/.

This site allows you to first search for the artist in question (if your artists is not listed, I would do a little more research before buying the print).

ArtPrice will also provide you a price guide for other types of works sold for the artist.

You don’t want to pay more for a print than an original work. So please do your research.

Now if your artist is not on ArtPrice, that does not mean the print is a fake or the artist is not a good investment.

You may actually be buying directly from an artist or buying prints of an upcoming artist who has yet to be ‘discovered’.

As I stated earlier, I follow and I am a fan of a few semi-known artists who are either breaking out into mainstream or are on the precipice of fame.

Three of these artists produce their own prints and you can purchase them directly from the artist or from their online store.

I doubt they will appear on a professional index or catalogue but their fans number in the hundreds of thousands and their works, both original and prints are snapped up as soon as they become available.

While a dealer would say these works have little to no value, I would beg to differ. These are the types of works you must first personally like and secondly be happy to buy and hold for the long term.

In short, buy what you can afford and what you love. Don’t buy art prints expecting to make a lot of money. Investing in art is for the love of art and the artist.

How much are art prints worth? The value depends on the specific print but as a general rule, art prints need to be in a very limited run, need to be hard to come by and need to be made using quality materials.

If you are still in doubt, then buy original art by well know or upcoming artists as only original works made by the hand of the artist will stand a chance of gaining value.

Value, like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So are art prints worth anything? Yes they are, to the owner and to some collectors.

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You may also like my other posts about prints:

How Can You Tell if a Lithograph is Real

Making Art Prints at Staples

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FAQs

Are picture prints worth anything? ›

Prints can in fact be very valuable, especially those by renowned artists, rare prints or old prints in good condition. Prints are a bit of a minefield when it comes to the value, which is often based on the production process and the artist's involvement in the creation of the print.

Are art prints worth investing in? ›

For art aficionados, amateur enthusiasts and everything in between, a contemporary print can be a great investment, both emotionally and financially. For anyone looking to start their own art collection, investing in contemporary art prints is a great way to begin (whilst experiencing utter joy along the way!).

Are art copies worth anything? ›

The majority of reproductions of famous paintings have little value. For example, John Constable's painting The Haywain is a priceless masterpiece, but prints which are copies of this painting are of no real value and are not expected to increase in value over time.

Is it a waste of money to buy art? ›

While buying art may not be exactly described as a great investment, it is not a waste of money either. Art can appreciate, and people do make money by buying and selling art. While the chance of earning significantly from an art investment is small, it is not zero, and art does qualify as an asset.

What art prints are most valuable? ›

Top 5 most expensive prints
  • Pablo Picasso - La femme que pleure I $5,122,500 (2011)
  • Henri Matisse- Oceanie la mer $4,774,500 (2011)
  • Pablo Picasso - Le repas frugal $3,052,400 (2012)
  • Edvard Munch - Young girl on a beach $3,000,000 (2013)
  • Edvard Munch - Vampire II$2,182,800 (2007)

How do I find the value of art prints? ›

Consider finding an appraiser to determine the value of your artwork. Appraisers are trained specialists who work for a fee. They evaluate your piece and give you a written statement of its value.

Do prints devalue art? ›

The original is not the same as a print. Original art will sell for much more and holds a much higher value than a print. Prints in no way devalue the original artwork because there is only one original no matter what!

What does a P mean on a print? ›

A/P stands for 'Artist's proof' and is a small number of prints that are the first ones printed deemed good enough by the artist. Usually the number of A/Ps is about 10% of the size of the main edition, and this mini-edition can be numbered or not.

What can I do with unwanted art prints? ›

If the quality of your unwanted paintings is really good, you may be able to offer them to local women's shelters, ministries or child care organizations. If those organizations don't have use for artwork, give your old paintings away to a Goodwill or Purple Heart before chucking them.

Why do art prints cost so much? ›

Very large prints, especially those greater than 24 by 40 inches (60.96 by 101.60 centimeters), are especially difficult to produce, requiring elaborate techniques, one-of-a-kind printing presses, and the hands of a master printmaker. For these reasons, the biggest prints are often the most expensive.

How do you tell if it is a print or original? ›

Prints have a clean straight edge, often created by the plate used to create the work. Looking at the surface of a painting with a magnifying glass is one of the best ways to spot a print. Often a high quality cell phone can take photos which reveal a great deal, especially when using different “filters”.

Are artist proofs worth more than prints? ›

Artist Proofs are generally valued higher than other prints in the edition, due to the rarity and small quantity of them. Oftentimes the Artist Proof are altered from the final edition, creating a uniqueness to them that is very desirable.

Which is more valuable a print or a lithograph? ›

An original piece of artwork by a famous artist is expensive. A lithograph print is more affordable but still carries a tag of exclusivity, quality and value as there is almost certainly not going to be many copies.

Is art a waste of time summary? ›

In the essay “Is Art a Waste of Time?” by Ryhs Southan he discusses the purpose of art and explains the group, Effective Altruism. The main argument is that Effective Altruism do not agree with using resources and time on artwork.

Why is art not a waste of time? ›

Creativity and arts integration are not just about education though, they're about who we become as people. These things allow us to connect with others over common interests and emotions. They help us to express things that promote understanding and empathy.

What are limited edition prints? ›

Limited edition prints are usually original artworks that an artist develops in a specific print medium, like photography. There is always a limited number of prints available of this particular artwork for purchase. On the other hand, open edition prints are a selection of artworks that can be repeatedly reproduced.

What is an original print in art? ›

With original prints, the original artwork IS THE PRINT ITSELF. The image may have been created in a variety of ways, by being etched into a plate, or drawn onto a lithographic stone, or engraved out of a block of wood for example.

Why are prints signed in pencil? ›

Paper prints, and the back of canvas prints, should be signed with pencil. Pens, sharpies, and other markers can bleed and cause your paper prints to yellow over time.

What is the best way to sell limited edition prints? ›

Contact a reputable gallery or art broker for information about new and established artists. Some artists do not offer their work as limited edition prints. Make a list of potential artists and their agent contact information. Make notes about the medium used for the original piece, the style of work and the subjects.

How do you tell the difference between a print and a lithograph? ›

A common way to tell if a print is a hand lithograph or an offset lithograph is to look at the print under magnification. Marks from a hand lithograph will show a random dot pattern created by the tooth of the surface drawn on. Inks may lay directly on top of others and it will have a very rich look.

How do I find the value of a picture? ›

There are several websites that list thousands of artists and literally millions of prices fetched at auction, to enable people to research pictures and value.
...
Sites such as:
  1. www.artnet.com.
  2. www.artprice.com.
  3. www.fineartinfo.com.
  4. www.artfact.com.

Why do artists sell prints? ›

Attract more customers by offering art at a lower price point than originals. As mentioned in the previous point, prints can be a great way to hook new customers, and then follow up down the road once you've got them on your list.

Can you sell prints of old art? ›

It is illegal to sell, publicize and publish a copy of an artwork unless you have prior permission from the copyright owner. It is also illegal to publish and sell an artwork that's substantially similar to another original work of art.

Can you resell art prints? ›

Yes, once you buy the art, it is yours to resell or keep. The copyright belongs to the artist unless you have purchased the rights to reproduce the work. Buying from emerging artists and then warehousing the art for resale when the artist has made a name for themselves is the way the mega-priced modern art world works.

Do old prints have value? ›

Prints are often seen as mass-produced copies of famous artworks that are just not that valuable or worth investing in. But nothing can be further from the truth. Prints can be just as valuable as any other artwork and certain prints are known to reach seven or eight-figure prices at auctions.

What does HC mean on a print? ›

H.C. (Hors Commerce) - French for “For Commercial Use”, these prints are sometimes unsigned by the artist and used to promote the edition and are supposedly not to be sold.

What does VE mean on a print? ›

Edition Variable–the exception to the above rule is the Edition Variable, usually denoted by EV but artists also sometimes put Ed. Var, Var. Ed. or VE. This goes next to editions where the prints may not be.

What can I do with all my artwork? ›

What Should You Do When You've Finished an Artwork?
  1. Snap Photos of Your Art. Take a photo in good light to capture a true representation of your artwork. ...
  2. Input the Details into Artwork Archive. ...
  3. Add the Piece to Your Website. ...
  4. Publicize Your Artwork in Your Newsletter. ...
  5. Share Your Piece on Social Media. ...
  6. Email Your Collectors.

How do you throw away canvas? ›

Donate Them. This is one of the best ways to dispose of old and unwanted canvas paintings. There are different charity homes, shelters for the homeless, ministries, and child care organizations that would appreciate canvas paintings.

How do you reuse already painted canvas? ›

How to Reuse Old Canvas | Acrylic Art Tips for Beginners - YouTube

How much should you charge for prints? ›

For a simple answer, a good rule of thumb is to charge customers approximately four times what your total costs equated to. So if you've calculated that it cost you $13 to print an 8×10 (taking into account all the factors we've covered above), then you could charge customers around $52.

What is a good profit margin for art prints? ›

It would be best to aim for at least 25% profit on each print, but you may want to increase this margin depending on your expenses and other factors.

How much does it cost to make prints? ›

The average cost to print a page on a laser printer is around 5- to 8-cents for black and white, and between 12- and 15-cents for color laser prints. However, the cost of color print can rise as high as 60-cents per page for photos and heavy graphics.

What is the difference between a print and an original painting? ›

A Print is usually flat and has a dot matrix pattern, the same pattern you find in magazines or book images. An Original Painting has irregular and uneven paint on the edges of the stretched canvas. A Print usually has sharp, even and clean edges; where the buyer typically does not look.

Are Numbered prints valuable? ›

Artists typically now number their prints so that collectors will know that this print edition is limited and that their print is part of the official edition. The numbering of a print does not in itself make that print any more or less valuable, but it does give collectors some important facts about the print.

How can you ensure your artwork is original? ›

First-time buyers should ensure that an authenticity certificate is issued along with the artwork. The certificate should list details of the art piece such as the title, name of the artist, medium and size, an image of the artwork and be appropriately signed by the gallery representative or the artist.

What is the difference between an artist proof and a numbered print? ›

While there is no difference between the quality of a numbered edition and an Artist's Proof, we have some collectors who prefer to purchase an Artist's Proof and others that prefer to collect the lowest possible numbered edition.

What is the difference between an artist's proof and a printer's proof? ›

Instead of stating the number of the sheet within the edition, the printer's proofs contain the note PP and possibly a numbering with Roman or Arabic numerals. The number of PPs in addition to the regular edition is up to the artist. Usually there are one or two PPs.

Are all prints numbered? ›

Every Artwork in the Edition Is Identical

A common misconception is that editions are numbered in the order that they are printed. This is rarely the case, as artists will often number their works at random when they are signing and dating them.

What does giclee mean in art? ›

Giclee is a French term meaning “to spray”, referring to how an inkjet printer works and how giclee prints are usually produced. These large format inkjet printers use small spraying devices that can both match color and apply ink precisely, giving artists a high-quality print of their original art explains ThoughtCo.

How do you know if a lithograph is worth money? ›

The value or price of a lithograph depends on the quality of the art work, the quality of the paper and how successfully the print was made. The reputation of the artist who produced the print sometimes has a bearing on the price and so does the reason the print was made.

What is an example of a lithograph? ›

The definition of lithography is a method of printing from a flat surface where unnecessary ink is turned away from the surface, generally by grease. An example of lithography is printing a message on a stone using grease to repel unwanted ink.

When the world is burning is art a waste of time summary? ›

This book highlights the lost history of Black comic book artists who drew –- mostly in secret –- superhero, horror and romance comics in the 1930s and 1940s. It tells some of the stories of their lives and struggles in what was a relatively new American medium.

Are old prints worth anything? ›

Prints are often seen as mass-produced copies of famous artworks that are just not that valuable or worth investing in. But nothing can be further from the truth. Prints can be just as valuable as any other artwork and certain prints are known to reach seven or eight-figure prices at auctions.

How do I find the value of old photos? ›

There are several websites that list thousands of artists and literally millions of prices fetched at auction, to enable people to research pictures and value.
...
Sites such as:
  1. www.artnet.com.
  2. www.artprice.com.
  3. www.fineartinfo.com.
  4. www.artfact.com.

How can you tell if a print is an original? ›

The most definitive method of determining whether a print is an original or a reproduction is by examination of its production process. All reproductions are made by a different process than originals; reproductions are photomechanically produced and originals are not.

Do old photos have any value? ›

Some old pictures and prints are incredibly rare and valuable, but age is no guarantee of value. There are thousands of 19th century prints on the market, many of which are small decorative bookplates (pages torn out of books) that may be worth a small amount if their subject has commercial appeal.

What can I do with unwanted art prints? ›

If the quality of your unwanted paintings is really good, you may be able to offer them to local women's shelters, ministries or child care organizations. If those organizations don't have use for artwork, give your old paintings away to a Goodwill or Purple Heart before chucking them.

What does a P mean on a print? ›

A/P stands for 'Artist's proof' and is a small number of prints that are the first ones printed deemed good enough by the artist. Usually the number of A/Ps is about 10% of the size of the main edition, and this mini-edition can be numbered or not.

Are artist prints more valuable? ›

Artist Proofs are generally valued higher than other prints in the edition, due to the rarity and small quantity of them. Oftentimes the Artist Proof are altered from the final edition, creating a uniqueness to them that is very desirable.

Is there an app to take a picture of something to find its value? ›

Google Lens is a free app for iOS and Android devices.

What are old photos on glass called? ›

The ambrotype (from Ancient Greek: ἀμβροτός — “immortal”, and τύπος — “impression”) also known as a collodion positive in the UK, is a positive photograph on glass made by a variant of the wet plate collodion process. Like a print on paper, it is viewed by reflected light.

Why are art prints expensive? ›

When editions are small, the individual artworks in the edition are more rare—and, as a result, more expensive. Prints from large editions (often, 200 or above) are less valuable, as it's unlikely that the artist was directly involved in the production of each print.

How can you tell the difference between a print and a lithograph? ›

A common way to tell if a print is a hand lithograph or an offset lithograph is to look at the print under magnification. Marks from a hand lithograph will show a random dot pattern created by the tooth of the surface drawn on. Inks may lay directly on top of others and it will have a very rich look.

How do you tell the difference between a print and an original painting? ›

Distinguishing a Print from a Painting

A clear difference between a print and a painting is the texture of the surface. Paintings typically have raised brushstrokes. The dots of ink on the print are flat. You can also find signs of the artist's work on original paintings.

What makes a picture valuable? ›

If you make pictures that inspire awe and wonder in your viewer, and you can sell those pictures for a lot of money, the pictures are “valuable” in an economic/monetary sense.

What are old brown photos called? ›

From old historic photos in an antique shop to art prints in a museum, sepia photography is instantly recognizable. “Sepia photography is similar to black-and-white photography in that it's monochromatic, meaning one tone or one color. But it's more brown or tan,” says photographer Ellen Fisch.

What is an old photo called? ›

1. Daguerreotype (1840's – early 1860) Daguerreotypes were popular from the 1840's -1860's. They are typically small with the most common size being 2 3/4 x 3 1/2 inches and housed in a case.

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