Collecting Limited Edition Prints

Many art-lovers collect original prints because of their affordability
and also because various print techniques have a distinctive and engaging visual language.
For example, the highly graphic quality of a woodcut,
the subtle embossing of a deeply-etched line within an etching,
the tonal range of a lithograph, or the deep velvety blacks of a mezzotint.

Stanley Palmer, Punakaiki II, 2010
Screenprint on linen, framed, 95x143cm, edition of 30.

I've adapted this advice from Solander Gallery's list of tips for collecting prints.
We suggest you should consider the following when collecting limited edition original prints:
  • Buy prints you love to look at, that personally resonates with you in some way. 
  • Research the artist you are considering, including their reputation, awards received, institutional acquisitions, tertiary art training and the frequency of solo exhibitions. Also consider emerging artists or new graduates who may not yet have built a reputation but who show promise in their work - they may become the 'stars of tomorrow'.
  • Decide what criteria or parameters you will use for selecting what to collect. You may be interested in collecting a specific medium, era, region, style, theme, conceptual viewpoint, or perhaps 'diversity' is important?
  • If you are planning to display or on-sell your collection, you might also want to consider practicalities such as it's size, colours, hanging requirements and its resale value, to determine whether it will suit  the purpose of your collection.
  • Consider the specific print medium, print works that have been conceived and executed in . (Beware: Some art retailers will sell 'prints' that are actually paintings that have been photographed and commercially offset printed - they may have an edition number but they are 'reproductions', not true limited edition art prints). If the artist primarily works in another medium such as painting or sculpture, look for print works that are consistent with their overall style but where the artist has extended their creative expression through the chosen print medium (for example the graphic qualities of a woodcut, the line quality of lithography, or the texture of a collagraph).
  • Be aware of the edition size of the work you are considering - "Less is more".
  • If possible, ask to see any other prints held from the same edition so you can compare subtle differences between individual prints before making your choice. There will often be slight differences due to the hand made nature of inking and printing from the original plate or block.
  • Check the condition of the print. Look for stains or brown spots ('foxing' due to water damage), signs of insect damage), holes, tears or creases in the paper, dog-eared corners, etc. Some blemishes may be outside the matted visible area but may affect resale value.
If any of you have any questions OR more tips for selecting prints
then please add your comments below or email NZ Printmakers