Are Art Prints Worth Anything?

Art prints are thought of as mass-produced copies of artworks. Therefore this isn’t always the case. There is much more to it than that.

An art print’s worth depends on many factors, including quality, technique, edition, print number. Art prints can go for large amounts of money in auctions, but the worth is entirely dependent on these factors and what buyers are willing to pay. 

This article will be talking about the misconceptions associated with art prints as the the factors that are taken into consideration when calculating the value of an art print. Read on if you’d like to know how it all works.

What Is an Art Print?

Before diving further into this subject, it’s important to be aware of what an art print actually is.

There are two primary types of art prints: reproductions and original art prints. The terminology can be difficult to memorize, however, there are many differences between them. As The Anthrotorian puts it, “The easiest way to remember the difference between the two is to think about how close the actual artist is to the final work that you have hanging on your wall.”

Normally art prints are associated with reproductions. They are made mechanically, quickly, and in large numbers. Whereas original prints have some originality, they are individually made by the artist, and some distinctions between them can be spotted if you look closely.


As mentioned before, there is a misconception regarding art prints, which is that they are solely reproductions of artworks. There are many differences between a reproduction and an original print.

So what is a reproduction, and in what aspects is it different from an original print?

According to artist Phil Metzger, reproductions are copies that are mechanically made in order to get them out in large numbers, and as fast as possible. Usually, the artist isn’t involved in the process of making the reproductions of their work.

Reproductions are a photographic copy of a painting. Reproductions of notorious painting usually have little value; however, if they are printed as limited editions, they might be more valuable. This all depends on supply and demand over time.

The cost of reproduction depends on its level of detail and the surface it’s printed on. Paper prints cost less than canvas prints, for example. Plus, since reproduction resorts to a digital file, it’s essential to make sure that the digital file looks good and can produce high-quality copies. 


A giclée is a very popular form of reproduction. This type of reproduction is created with a specialized inkjet printer. This method of reproduction has a much higher quality than a home printer, for example. It can even reproduce the texture of the paint in the original, and it prints in different types of paper, which will also have to be considered when calculating the price of the art print.

Now, moving on to original prints. What is the difference when it comes to value between a reproduction and an original print? And are there more factors that come into play?

Original Prints

Original prints are made by the artists. The prints themselves are called original prints because they are not a copy of the artwork already made;

Original art prints are made one by one. Therefore, the prints might have subtle differences when compared with each other. These prints can be considered just as valuable as any other type of artwork. 

However, as the prints are used, they might begin getting worn down, and the quality might drop, that is why it is not uncommon for prints to be limited editions, meaning there will be a set number of impressions of a certain print.

Original art prints have small variations within each other due to the techniques that are used to make them. Each print undergoes manual procedures that can result in small details unique to only a specific impression. 

It is up to the artist to decide which prints are good enough and which ones should be discarded. In printmaking, each print is considered an individual artwork, unlike reproductions that are a copy of the original.

When trying to figure out the value of an art print, many factors come into play, such as the techniques that were used, if it’s signed, if it’s a limited edition, the print’s run number, and other factors that’ll be discussed below.

How do these factors affect the value of an art print?

Printmaking Techniques

Prints consist of transferring ink from a printing matrix onto a certain material, and there are several techniques of doing this that are used by artists in order to make prints. The amount of labor a technique requires can influence the print’s value. These techniques are usually divided by process.

The techniques themselves are woodcut, linocut, etching, engraving, drypoint, lithograph, monotype, and screenprinting.

Relief Print

A relief print is a process in which an artist carves certain areas on a surface and inks the remaining areas, then pressing a paper or another material against the surface, the ink is then transferred, thus creating a print. 

Here is a great video by New York’s Museum of Modern Art that explains how it’s done: 

The relief process techniques are:


Woodcut was the first printmaking technique; it is a form of relief print. This technique uses a block of wood as the matrix. A design is made on the woodblock and then carved by the artist, these are the areas of the wood that will not be receiving ink. The raised areas of the design will be covered with ink. The design is then transferred onto a material with either a printing press or by hand.


Linocut is a print that is created using a linoleum block as the matrix, a design is cut into the matrix, much like in the woodcut technique. The raised surface is spread across the area, and then the design is transferred onto a material.

Intaglio Print

Intaglio prints have ink spread across the printing matrix so that the ink can go into the recesses of the matrix instead of on the original surface area. This process requires a printing press.


Etching is created by spreading ground, which is an acid-resistant waxy material, across a metal plate. Using an appropriate tool, the artist carves the design, and then the plate is submerged in acid, the ground protects it, and so the acid eats away at the metal that was left exposed.

When the plate reemerges, the ground is removed, and then the ink can be applied. The etching technique is the opposite of woodcut and linocut, and it is not the raised surface that receives the ink but the etched lines. Finally, the plate is moved to a press that will transfer the ink from the lines to the material.

Here is an informative video made by Liverpool’s National Museum that thoroughly explains this process: 


Engraving is a very similar technique to an etching; however, there is no use of ground nor acid. A metal plate is engraved with a sharp tool; generally, a tool called “burin”, it leaves a burr that is wiped off.

The ink is spread across the plate, filling the engraved lines. It is then wiped clean off the surface so that the ink in the lines is all that remains. The plate goes through a printing press in order for the ink to transfer to the material.


Much like engraving, when creating drypoint prints, a sharp tool is used to make the design; however, the burr is not cleaned from the plate before the ink is applied.

Drypoint prints tend to be soft and blurry because of the burr, but this also means that when being subjected to the printing press, the burr is worn down and destroyed. 

This means that drypoint prints will usually have very small editions, and since the burr is progressively worn down, the first impressions might vary from last printed impressions. This shows how each impression is unique and individual from the others.

Planographic Print

In order to make planographic prints, there is no need to alter the matrix, it maintains the original surface. The surface is prepared in a way that allows the ink to transfer the image onto the material.


Lithography print exists because water and oil don’t mix. A greasy medium is used to make a design on the stone surface, normally limestone. Water is spread onto the stone, wetting only the surface that is not covered with oil. Then an oil ink is applied with a roller onto the matrix; however, the oil in the ink is repelled by the water, meaning it’ll only adhere to the design.

Paper is placed onto the inked surface and then run through a printing press that will cause the ink to transfer onto the paper.


Monotype prints usually only allow the creation of one or two impressions, though the second one will be significantly worse in terms of quality.

Monotype prints consist of applying ink on a smooth surface and then transferring it onto paper by using a printing press. A print made using this technique is usually embellished using watercolors or stencils. This technique isn’t very common, as it won’t allow the artist to make many impressions.

Stencil Print

Stencil prints are made by pressing ink through a screen with a prepared opening.

Screen Printing or Silkscreen

Screen printing allows the artist to make a print using a stencil. This means that with the help of a squeegee, the ink is spread across the surface except where the stencil is blocking it. The ink is then transferred through the prepared opening and made into a print.

Some of these techniques require more materials than others. More labor is also put into creating some prints depending on the techniques that were chosen; some techniques have the ability to produce a bigger or a smaller edition, all of these factors will be taken into consideration when determining the value of the prints.

But that’s not all; there are a few other variables that need to be mentioned when talking about art print values.


Prints that are made from the same matrix are called an edition. An edition can contain a certain amount of impressions, meaning it’s a limited edition print. Or, it can be reproduced an infinite amount of times, meaning it’s an open edition. Limited editions are worth much more than open edition prints.

The smaller an edition, the more valuable the print will be due to the exclusivity. An edition can be as small as only having two impressions, commonly, if you resort to the monotype technique. This will vary on the artist’s decision and the techniques used.

A limited-edition print will be numbered. The number will be written in pencil at the bottom of the print. For example, if it reads 10/50, it means that the impression you own is the 10th print from an edition of 50 prints total.

This is another important factor to take into consideration when determining the value of the print. The value will be higher if the print run number is closer to one.

And why’s that?

The first impression is considered to be the most valuable because it will have the best quality amongst the entire edition, taking into account that with excessive printing, it might deteriorate the original image, this also means that the first impression will be closer to what the artist intended to create.


A proof is a different type of print; it is not numbered because it is not part of an edition. Some proofs are impressions that were created before the official version; however, some are impressions that were put aside for a specific reason.

And are art print proofs more valuable than limited edition prints?

Art print proofs are often more valuable than other prints because they are much harder to come by; their rarity adds to their value.

Trial Proof

A trial proof is an impression that was made as a test; the artist creates this to test what needs or doesn’t need to be altered. The artist then proceeds to change the matrix accordingly. There are no annotations in trial proof.

Bon À Tirer

Once the artist has finished and is happy with the result, a bon à tirer is created, this is a french expression that means it’s ready to print. This is sent to the printer, and it determines how the edition will look. For a bon à tirer proof, there will be an annotation with the letters “B.A.T.”.

Artist’s Proof

An artist’s proof (Epreuve d’artiste, E.A.) is an impression of a print that is provided to the artist. Normally, an artist will receive one or more prints of an edition. These prints are specifically put aside for the artist, and they are exactly the same as the other impressions; however, there will be an annotation with the letters “A.P.” or “E.A.”.

Printer’s Proof

Printer’s proofs are complementary impressions given to the printer. There can be multiple printer’s proofs; it depends on the number of printers that are involved. They will be typically marked with “P.P.”.

Hors Commerce

Hors Commerce are impressions that were not meant to be sold. Their purpose is to be used for galleries and exhibitions, and they are only available through the artist. They are annotated with the letters “H.C.”.

Proofs are not meant to be sold; however, they have still somehow found their way into the market. Not only are they valuable due to their rarity but also because some of them allow the public to see another perspective of the finished artwork, namely trial proofs, that may look very different from the completed piece. They can provide more information about what the artist intended to do with his piece.


There’s much more than meets the eye when it comes to art prints. It is necessary to understand the different variables that come into the picture when determining the value of an art print.

Not only the fact that there are two different types of art prints that are very distinct from each other, one consists of copies as the other can be seen as the fine art of printmaking. But there is also the quality, material, technique, editions, and these are all factors to keep in mind in order to accurately calculate how much an art print is worth.


Are Art Fairs Worth It?

As an artist, you’ll spend a lot of your time building up popularity and selling art pieces to new customers. One of the best ways to attract potential customers is by setting up a booth at a popular art fair. But, one of the major downsides with art fairs is that you have to pay for a spot!

So, are art fairs worth it? Art fairs might cost you upwards of $1,000 for a single trip. However, they can definitely be worth it if you’re clinching sales and building up a name for yourself. Yet, you need to be making an effort to make them worth it. Work on networking, choosing the right fairs, and cutting costs.

There are some situations where an art fair is definitely worth it for new and skilled artists! So, we’re going to be reviewing what art fairs are, how much they cost, and how to make them worth it for you.

What Are Art Fairs? 

An art fair is a trade show of sorts where skilled artists can display and sell their own artistic pieces. But, anyone with a role in the art industry can take part and set up their own art booths or secure spaces in the gallery. That includes gallery owners, collectors, and individual artists.

The goal of an art fair is to attract local customers to your artistic style. If you display your best pieces, you might be able to make some sales and secure yourself long-term customers. There’s also a pretty good chance that your work will be seen by local gallery owners and curators. This can be huge for your career. If you want to know more about the art fairs market you can find it here:

The Cost of Attending an Art Fair

What you’ll be spending on a booth or gallery space will depend on the actual art fair and how much space you need. But, there’s no way to avoid costs altogether. Here’s a brief look at some of the fees associated with art fairs:

  • Application fee. This fee is usually somewhere around $50, though there are some art fairs that won’t cost you a dime. You can also get this fee covered by your gallery owner if you have one.
  • Booth or gallery space fee. This fee really depends on how much space you’re looking for. A smaller booth might be as low as $150, while a significantly larger booth will probably be closer to $1,000. Therefore bigger art fairs can cost up to 10.000$.
  • Travel and hotel fees. If you’re traveling a long distance, you’ll have to think about gas prices, tolls, hotel fees, and meals. This can cost you several hundred dollars for just a few days.

So, you might be spending around $1,000 for all the combined costs of attending an art fair. But, you also need to think about the possibility of paying commission. That means you’ll be giving a cut of each sale to the art fair creators. Sometimes, it’s as much as 50% of the final sale price.

If you’re spending a grand to take part in an art fair and not making sales, then it’s definitely not worth it! The good news is that there are ways to make art fairs worth it financially and career-wise.

Making Art Fairs Worth It

If art fairs weren’t at all worth it for artists, they wouldn’t still be around today. Yet, not every art fair will be lucrative for you and your artistic style. There are a lot of things to think about before deciding on a specific art fair to display your new work. Let’s go over how you can make sure that an art fair is worth the money you’ll be shelling out!

JD Malat Gallery – Contemporary Istanbul 2019

The Fees

The fees are unavoidable when it comes to art fairs, but there are some ways that you can cut some costs. For example, your gallery owner might pay the application fee for you if you’re currently with a gallery. That’s about $50 that you get to keep in your own pocket. You can also stick to local shows to avoid the fees that come with travel and hotel stays.

One of the best ways to guarantee that you’re pulling in some income at the end of the day is by doing a few calculations. Take into account how much you’re spending on fees (in total) and how many pieces of your work you’d have to sell to get income. If you have to sell dozens of pieces to break even, you might want to wait a few years before trying that specific fair.

So, make sure an art fair is within your budget. Even though you want to make huge sales right now, it might be a better idea to focus on smaller fairs for right now. This can help you to make a name for yourself, make sales, and save money.

The Number of Visitors

You want to be sure that tons of people will be exposed to your art and style at an art fair. Spending $1,000 for a few days sounds like a lot right now. Yet, some art fairs recruit thousands of unique visitors every day. That’s a much greater chance of exposure and art sales.

The goal is to get as many pairs of eyes on your artwork as possible. Remember, you’re somewhat competing with the other attendees of the art fair. There’s a better chance of getting some bites with 10,000 visitors a day rather than just 80.

You need to also think about the qualities of the local community. Try to choose art fairs that lure visitors that are interested in your particular style of art. This is a great way to guarantee at least some interest in your pieces.

The Possible Name Recognition & Networking Opportunities

Art fairs are a great way to sell your pieces to the public and art aficionados. At the same time, art fairs are often visited by some of the biggest names in the industry. That means you might be able to connect with a gallery owner or a curator that’s impressed by your artwork. This can lead to tons of future opportunities and greater sales.

It might also be a good idea to focus on a certain area for a little while. Focus on art fairs in a certain state or states in hopes that the same people will see your work repeatedly. Once people see you at plenty of local shows, they’ll be much more interested and value you as a professional in your industry.

Even if you’re not making a lot of income at your first art fair, that doesn’t mean you’re leaving empty-handed. Art fairs are a great way to build relationships with others in the art community. You can learn about other styles of art and how popular artists have built a customer base.

You might even make some friends and learn about some upcoming art fairs. You might eventually be the artist that newcomers turn to for a little career advice! So, take the time to talk to the other attendees.


Strategically showing your art at art fairs can cause your art career to skyrocket. Though you’ll be spending a lot of money, you’ll be showing your art to likely thousands of people and making some sales. Here are some tips for making an art fair worth it:

  • Work on networking and building relationships at the fair
  • Choose low-fee and local fairs when you’re just starting out
  • Consider the number of pieces you’d have to sell to break even
  • Choose art fairs that bring in a ton of visitors


Jean-David Malat the humble curator of the stars

Jean-David Malat doesn’t need any introduction. With one of the best contemporary art galleries in London and famous clients as Bono, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Moss, among others, the art dealer of the stars is doing pretty well.

While exploring around during my second day at Contemporary Istanbul Art Fair one booth got my TOTAL attention. The artists’ selection was great and the aesthetic organisation of the space was outstanding. It didn’t take long until I asked more information to the tall guy next to me responsible for the booth. With a contagious smile on his face and a great explanation about his artists and their artworks, we exchanged cards in order to keep in touch because of one of his artists.Back to the bar area to meet my friends for a coffee break I left his card on the table, and suddenly one of my artist friends asked me with a confused face how did I meet JD Malat … After explaining him he started laughing saying that I’m lucky and I should google him once I had idea how famous he was in the artworld.After quick research I definitely got why he was surprised and actually felt quite ignorant, therefore meeting such a legend without knowing who he was made me even more interested about his gallery and artists.While in London, I asked Jean-David Malat if would be possible to book an interview for my blog, and in less than 10 minutes we had organised the whole meeting. Arriving to his gallery I was super well received by his assistant Annie who was already waiting for me inside surrounded by amazing art pieces of Masayoshi Nojo that almost puts the viewer in another dimension.

1- How it all started? How did you become an art dealer?Well, I came to London and I was working in fashion at the time, and you know art and fashion are actually similar. I started getting involved in both areas but in 2005 I started working in an art gallery and after a while I started dealing privately as well. In 2017 I opened my own gallery in London.
2- How do you find artists? How do you choose them?It’s all about my personal taste. Obviously, I also look for the artists’ background or what point they are in their careers, but mainly it’s about my personal taste.
3- What’s easier to deal with, artists or collectors?I find both easy to deal with. Artists take more time but I have an amazing team that helps me a lot. Clients need advice and of course, they need to trust me I need to deliver results.
4- What’s your best advice for a young person starting now?I would say to learn from their mistakes.
5- During all those years in the art market was there any more difficult time that made you wonder about changing careers?Not really, I did mistakes, actually a lot of mistakes, but that’s normal, that’s actually how I learned.
6- Do you deal more in Primary or Secondary market?Both.
7- At the GQ interview, you said that the Sotheby’s degree didn’t teach you much as experience? Could you tell a bit more…I think I was misunderstood, I didn’t say that, what I said was I learnt more from experience (mistakes) than from the Sotheby’s course.
8- What’s your opinion about Art Fairs and how many are you doing a year?I love art fairs, it’s a great way to network, meet new collectors, gallerists, dealers, new people in the industry … plus is great to show my artists to a new public that otherwise, they would never reach.
9- What’s your opinion about how Brexit will impact the art market in the U.K .Well we actually don’t know how it will be, but I think that London as one of the principal art market in the world won’t feel Brexit that much.
10- How’s a day in your life?Well, I can’t say I have a routine. During the weekdays I leave my kid in school then I came here until closing time but then I’m pretty much always on the phone or my computer working until bedtime.
11- What does it take to make a great art dealer? I realised that you are really humble for your position, that helps?Of course! I want everybody to come to my gallery, it doesn’t matter if you are a student, a collector or someone just interested in art. I treat everybody the same, what I really want is people to get interested in art and if they show interest why should I be cocky? I know some art dealers do that but it’s not my thing.
12- What’s your favourite painting from your artists?Hum, of my artists … difficult question, I love them all, but my favourite artwork is the Triptych by Erdoğan Zümrütoğlu.

Erdogan Zümrütoğlu, 2018 Oil on Canvas 200 x 480 cm
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