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Why You Should Choose Limited Edition Prints

January 12, 2017

Why You Should Choose Limited Edition Prints

I often get the question, since many of my originals are digital, why do I limit the size of my editions?

With traditional print methods, editions are physically limited by the medium in which they are produced. Etching plates get softer with each impression made from them, some lithographs wear away, silkscreens start to bleed. This is the reason why the first impression is considered by collectors to be the best print. With digital prints, in theory, there is none of this physical constraint, so why limit the number of prints that are produced from each original image? And why as you grow your art collection should you prefer to buy limited edition prints?

1. Superior Quality Prints

When you buy an artist-produced limited edition print, you will very likely get a superior quality print to anything that is mass-produced. You will need to judge for yourself the actual work of any artist from whom you acquire a print, but better quality printmakers treat digital printmaking as seriously as they treat printmaking in other media. They choose high quality acid-free cotton papers that will outlast either them or you. Archival pigment inks are rated to last hundreds of years with adequate framing and storage. 

Fine quality printmakers also stand behind each individual print that they make. Each one is treated as a work of art: carefully created, inspected, and packaged. You can read more about my printmaking process here.

2. Limited Distribution

You will be acquiring a piece of art that will have very limited distribution. By their very nature, limited edition prints are released in smaller quantities, so you won’t be seeing your cherished piece of art hanging in the coffee shop down the street. I firmly believe that everyone should be able to own art, so I release the smaller prints of my images in medium sized editions—at the largest 200.

My larger sized prints are my pride and joy. They are released in very small editions of 10 prints. All of my prints feel wonderful to handle and to see in person: they have a tactile quality and richness of colour that is impossible to communicate on the screen. But the larger ones are truly something special (if I do say so myself 😉). If you buy one of my prints at a larger size, I know that you feel that it is a compelling image, and limiting the number that I release gives you confidence that your print is truly a prize.

3. Support the Arts

When you buy an artist-produced limited edition print, you are supporting an actual walking, talking breathing human. Rather than paying a corporation that owns the rights to some images, where the original artist may get only a very small stipend from the sale of their work, you are directly supporting the creator of the work. This may not be your primary concern–hey, I like a bargain as much as the next person–but if artists aren’t supported by their patrons, it stands to reason that ultimately many will not be able to continue making art.

4. Fresh Work

One somewhat selfish reason that I limit my editions is that I am always moving on and creating new work. My work changes and grows as I do, and I’m not interested in flogging endless reproductions of older work. Just as musical artists sell new albums and can be reluctant to play some of the old material at a concert, I want to be sharing current work.

5. Investment

Last but not least, you can have confidence that your work may be an investment. Of course the value of an artist's work sustains and rises only if that artist’s ‘star’ also sustains and rises in the firmament of the art world. But there is always a likelihood that a hard-working artist will do exactly that. They may not turn out to be the next Picasso, or this century’s Vincent Van Gogh, but there is an enormous aftermarket in the work of less well known artists from all eras. If you buy limited edition prints from a reputable artist, you may pay a little more, but it’s very likely that they will hold and increase in value in the long run. Mass produced art prints are extremely unlikely to ever be worth more than you pay for them, and often much less.

I truly believe that if you find an image that rocks your world, but isn’t limited in its release, you should add it to your collection anyway. Your home should be filled with pictures you love. But be clear about what you’re buying and why, and consider these many good reasons to buy limited edition artwork.

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