NEWS: Print buying for beginners

Although prints can cost thousands of pounds, they do frequently offer people an affordable entry into starting up their own collection of art. But where to start?

Basically, a print is a picture that has been transferred from one surface to another. Remember ‘potato printing’ at nursery school? So, although the methods used by professional printmakers are more sophisticated, the basic idea is the same.

Prints are an affordable entry point into the art world as an artist can sell more than one copy of the same image. Many art collectors only collect prints, and sometimes only the prints of one particular artist.

Limited editions

Frequently prints are produced by the artist themselves, who will limit the number of prints produced. This is when you will see a number on the print, such as 23/150, meaning this was the 23rd print from a limited number of 150. You will want to see the artists signature by this, authenticating the work. When the run is finished, artists will deface the original block, screen or printing plate  to ensure that no more prints can be run.

Types of print

Wood block engraving, etching, screenprint, lithograph, giclée? The very first forms of printing were using a wooden block and this remains today a very popular printing technique today. At the other end of the spectrum latest technology is used for cutting edge productions. Print making has always reflected the innovations of the day from using metal plates and acid for etchings to printing presses.

Unsure of what the technique used is in a print you like? In the gallery we are always happy to talk through the techniques the artist used so you know exactly what you are buying.

The printing technique will probably complement the image. Below we can see that the more traditional subject of a hare by eminent artist Sue Scullard has been produced using a wood block engraving, where the close grain of the block adds texture. Conversely, the crisp and smooth finish giclée printing on the Superman image complements the contemporary comic strip references. 

Sue Scullard 'Hare' wood block engraving


Dirty Hans 'Superman' Giclee

Both of these prints are limited editions and signed; just very different pictures and very different techniques!

Top tip!

Lastly, and most importantly, buy what you love! Don’t be swayed by fashion, outside influence or promise of investment returns – you are going to live with the print and need to enjoy looking at it every day.  


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