The art of collecting prints: what to know

SHEPARD FAIREY (born 1970)
Obey 3-Face Collage 2020
Sold for $1,500

Prints and other types of editions are a great place to start for someone who is beginning their art collection, especially if you are working within a budget. Many of your favourite painters of today also work within the medium of print, making it easier to acquire something to add to your collection.

The most popular forms of printmaking today are screen printing, lithography, etching and linocut printing. Each process utilises specific techniques that have been adapted by the artist, making it their own.

Here are some things to know before embarking on starting your collection:

What is an edition?

The edition is the total number of prints that have been created by the artist. The edition number is generally written at the bottom of a print and expressed as a fraction, for example 14/50 would indicate that the print is number 14 out of an edition of 50. Smaller edition sizes tend to be more desirable.

Murray Griffin
linocut 8/27
Sold for $1,375

What if the print is unsigned?

On occasion you may find original prints that are unsigned. It may have been missed in the printing process or gifted by the artist without signing. There are also many artists and studios that use a rubber stamp to print their signature, or have it printed within the plate. It is always good practice to ensure that the artwork is signed or bares provenance to assure you that the print is an original.

Caring for your artwork

Framing your print is the most important long-term decision you can make when it comes to caring for your newly acquired piece. Make sure you use a professional framer; in the long run it is better for you and your print to be framed using the right mount and materials. To avoid fading of bright and bold colours, do not hang your piece in direct sunlight unless it has been framed behind museum grade glass, and ensure that the artwork is kept away from moisture and damp spaces. Always ensure that the artwork is not trimmed in the framing process to accommodate a smaller frame and make sure your framer does not to glue it to the backboard.

Happy collecting!

HANNAH RYAN / Prints & Multiples Specialist

March 2021