If you're new to art collecting, deciphering the multitude of art on the market can seem a bit overwhelming. We'll help you make sense of the various types available so that you can confidently begin to build the collection of your dreams.
Today we are going to discuss the difference between "open edition" and "limited edition" prints. Since both are more accessible than paintings and other original works of art, it may interest you to consider these as viable options when starting out.
What is an "open edition" print?
Open edition prints are works of art that may be endlessly reproduced. A perfect example is Van Gogh's Starry Night. Posters, postcards and prints of this famous artwork can be found in the museum gift shops the world over. They come in all shapes and sizes, and because there's no limit to the number of reproductions that can be made, an open edition print is priced substantially lower than a limited edition print.
Are "open edition" prints collectible?
Not particularly. Again, because there is no limit to how many can be produced there will always be one available on the market for you to purchase. An open edition print's primary function is to make an artwork accessible to the general public at a fraction of the cost of an original work of art. Open editions are meant to enhance your interior, adding a touch of style to your space or simply to reflect your taste in art; however, because of their unlimited availability, they will have little to no monetary upside, regardless of how long you hang on to them.
Where can I purchase "open edition" prints?
Given their non-exclusive nature, open edition prints are fairly easy to come by. They can be purchased online, in museums and other gift shops, second hand stores and also at large retailers. Typically, the cost for an open edition print will range anywhere from 50 - 200 dollars or more depending on the size of the print and whether or not the art is already framed and ready to hang.
What is a "limited edition" print?
Limited edition prints are either original works (meaning they were created exclusively in a specific print medium by the artist i.e. Lithographs, linocuts, monoprints, aquatints, etchings and so on) or are limited production runs of already existing artwork (these are called "afters" because they are created "after the original") in collaboration with the artist himself. These prints are usually created in "editions" (an "edition" is the number of actual reproductions made) and are often signed and numbered by the artist. Limited edition prints are usually exceptional in quality, and far superior to "open edition" prints. Most limited editions are printed on museum grade archival papers (100% acid free, cotton rag) and are meticulously printed with the highest quality inks to show the incredible detail inherent in the original work of art.
Are "Limited edition" prints collectible?
Absolutely. The exclusive nature of a limited edition print effectively raises its value and, therefore, its price. Although there are many factors to consider (i.e. artist's notoriety, historical value, edition size, signed or unsigned, demand and popularity of the specific work of art being reproduced etc.) because they are limited to a certain number and can never be duplicated again in the same capacity, they are often prized and sought after by collectors and art lovers alike.
What is an "edition"?
When considering purchasing a limited edition print, it is crucial to note the "edition" size or "edition" number. This simply means, the number of times the artwork has been reproduced. Usually limited edition prints are in edition of 25, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000. Obviously, the smaller the "edition size" the higher the value and therefor the more collectible the print becomes.
Where can I purchase a "limited edition" print?
Finding a particular limited edition print can be a bit more challenging than an open edition print. As mentioned before, there is a finite number of these limited prints available on the market, and depending on the edition size the price and scarcity becomes increasingly higher. Limited prints can be found at: art galleries, art fairs, art dealers, direct from artists, estate sales, auction houses or anywhere else fine art can be purchased. The price paid for a limited edition print will vary greatly depending on edition size, artist notoriety, availability and size. Limited edition prints can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars and beyond.
Which of these two options does THE SM(ART) COLLECTOR recommend?
We personally prefer the more desirable qualities inherent in limited edition prints. Not only do they look superior to their open edition counterpart, they also reflect a higher level of prestige, exclusivity and connoisseurship within your collection.
However, at the end of the day it's really up to you and your goals as an art collector. If you're simply hoping to beautify your home with recognizable artworks at a reasonable price the best option for you may be to consider open edition prints. If you're more serious about art collecting and would like to acquire an artwork with a bit more panache and something which may possibly increase in value over time, then limited edition prints would be the way to go.
No matter which path you choose, knowing the difference between these two is crucial to beginning your journey in to the world of art collecting.