3 Important things to look for in an art print/ edition: Investing advice

Even while our guides touch on every kind of artwork, I am acutely aware that the most likely artwork beginner investors will consider is editioned art prints. Acquiring other artworks, such as one-of-a-kind paintings, can be prohibitively expensive for most investors (unless you invest via art funds).

https://www.flickr.com/photos/bflv/10479102525/ art print
Takashi Murakami, The Future will Be Full of Smile! For Sure!, Offset lithograph on paper, Edition of 300, 2013

This is why we think it is imperative to detail the factors you should consider when buying an art print.

Edition Size and Number

These two factors are crucial for editioned artwork. First is the ‘edition size’, which refers to how many prints were produced. Of course, the smaller the edition size, the more collector-friendly they are.

The second is ‘edition number’, which refers to the specific number of a print within the size (e.g., edition number 23 from an edition size of 100).

Remember that not all editioned artwork will have an edition size and/ or an edition number. A print may be an edition of an ‘unknown size’, or the edition size may be known while the edition number may be unknown. I always find the latter example a dubious claim, and the omitted edition size suggests that the print quality or quantity is not tightly controlled. Therefore, I prize editions with a known size more than those with an unknown size.

Ai Weiwei – History Of Bombs – Signed Edition –  2020

This preference also applies to editions with numbers over editions without numbers. Then within edition numbers, should also consider WHAT number the edition is. For example, an edition that is number 1 out of 100 may be more desirable to collectors than an edition that is a random number like 57 out of 100. I like late numbers like 99 out of 100 or 100 out of 100. Each collector has their preference, but generally, nice round numbers and those closest to 1 are preferable.

Artist Signature

A seemingly insignificant little artist’s signature can significantly impact the cost and resale of an art print. The signature signifies the artist’s deeper connection (at least in a physical sense) with the art print. In art, ‘the artist’ can matter as much as ‘the artwork’, so an artist gracing a work with their “hallowed” signature matters. I’m being facetious, but the point stands. 

Yayoi Kusama “Pumpkin Green”. Lithograph signed in the plate, numbered 16/150 and stamped

In the hierarchy of signed prints, a generalized ranking would go: 

  1. Hand signed
  2. Printed signature
  3. No signature

The Cost of Framing

Art prints can be delicate compared to other artwork you can collect. Thus, they need to be housed in custom-made frames that are designed to shield them from sun, pollutants, and moisture. Frames that can adequately protect your art prints come at a premium and can be quite expensive.

While the upfront cost can be off-putting, you should consider the frame a necessary evil because, without it, you may as well throw your print in the bin right now. And besides, when you go to sell your art print, you can add the cost of the frame onto the sale price and recuperate the original cost.

You May Also Like:

Check out Masterworks, Public, and Yieldstreet and explore Art Funds that let you purchase shares in million-dollar paintings from blue chip artists like Banksy, Kaws, and Yayoi Kusama.

Read more: Review: Masterworks vs. Yieldstreet
Read more: Review: Masterworks vs Public

We welcome you to Contact Us with any questions you have about investing in art. Let us know your budget, the kinds of art that interest you, and we can work out a plan to get you started with art collecting the right way.