It may sound harsh, but no serious art collector would purchase cheap art prints for investment. However, I would argue that there are legitimate reasons for purchasing cheap art prints, such as if the print is only expected to decorate your home.
I make this argument because there are some places in your home that are not suitable for your valuable works of art. For example, that sun-drenched feature wall in your living room might be one of the worst places you could display a rare Joan Miró print (even if it is protected by museum grade glass and framing). But now you are left with a huge bare wall. So, to liven up your home, why not use cheap art prints to fill in the spaces that would otherwise have to sit bare.
What to remember when buying cheap art prints
Overall, it is best practice to avoid purchasing unauthorized reproductions or prints.
As an art collector, you should be in full support of an artist’s right to assert control over the production (and reproduction) of their artwork. After all, without artists being able to claim this authority, the art market, including the resale value of many works you collect, would be negatively impacted.
It can be challenging to determine authorized retailers from unauthorized. One sure-fire method is to only purchase prints from major museums. Below are some of my favorite museums selling authorized prints.
Prints are also available from Etsy from less recognized artists if you prefer (just be careful of unauthorized prints).
How to keep your cheap prints separate
Purchasing cheap art prints brings up the topic of keeping track of your art collection.
Keeping a database of your collection is a vital component of art collecting, especially if you are also purchasing cheap art prints that will be mixed in with your more valuable art works. Documenting everything will help you differentiate between your $10 Picasso print and your original 1972 Lithograph, so to speak.
Naturally, you should update your database immediately after the purchase or sale of every artwork. Don’t be put off by the term ‘database’, as this can simply be an excel sheet detailing the most important facets of each artwork. Please visit How to keep track of your art collection for a more in-depth report on documenting your art collection.
You may be happy to tack up your cheap art prints directly on the wall, but this display tactic may not mesh well with the rest of your collection (which should be homed in custom made frames). As such, you may want to consider the cost of framing when purchasing cheap art prints too. Even cheap frames, especially poster sized frames, can be quite costly (and you may prefer to put that money aside for investing in real artworks).