THE LOW DOWN ON ART PRINTS - HOW TO KNOW WHAT YOU'RE BUYING
HOW IS AN ART PRINT MADE?
A painting is photographed and then the image is printed onto paper. Two things can affect the quality of an art print; the quality of the ink used, and the type of paper it is printed onto.
If your art print is printed with archival grade ink the colours will last much longer with little fading. You may have heard of ‘Giclee’ printing which is a very sophisticated printing machine that The thicker/more textured your paper is; the more ink it will absorb thus making the colours deeper (they call this saturation).
HOW DO I KNOW IF THE PRINT PAPER IS GOOD QUALITY?
Paper thickness is measured in “GSM” which is short for Grams per Square Metre”. The higher the GSM number the thicker or heavier the paper. Standard photocopy paper is 80 gsm, so high quality papers like Hahnemuhle Photorag 308gsm are the weight of about 4 sheets of photocopy paper.
HOW DO THE INGREDIENTS IN PAPER AFFECT PRINT QUALITY?
‘Standard’ paper is made of wood fibres which aren’t as tough as other papers. It may have high acid content that can negatively affect its ability to absorb ink and make it discolour over time.
Poster paper is a lightweight (usually around 120 -170 gsm) composite paper (contains wood fibre, cotton and a range of synthetics) that is coated to have a satin finish.
Art Paper is a composite paper (contains wood fibre, cotton and a range of synthetics) that is coated to appear glossy or matte.
Hahnemuhle paper is made of cotton fibres making it more absorbent and more durable. Being lower in acid (often acid free) the paper should not discolour over time.
WHAT ARE 'OPEN SERIES' AND 'LIMITED EDITION' PRINTS?
‘Open Run’ or ‘Open Edition’ prints just refers to how many copies of the print will be offered for sale. Open runs basically means that the print will be endlessly reproduced into the future.
‘Limited Edition’ means that the number of prints produced is limited to a small number (often 50, 100 or 200 prints). Limited Edition prints have more value than Open Edition because of the limited number of them available.
WHY BUY PRINTS?
Art prints are a really affordable way to own an image by your favourite artist. You can get a lot of joy out of having an artwork you love in your home without spending thousands on an original painting.
If you can afford an original painting you might still want to buy art prints for those spaces where an original might not be as secure or likely to get damaged. For example an art print is ideal for your work office, holiday home or in the kitchen where there’s heat and steam.
Art prints make really great affordable presents for friends and family too. Not sure if your loved one will like the artwork you chose? Many print sellers offer vouchers so they can choose their own print.
CAN I GET A LARGER PRINT?
Approach your artist and ask! Reproducing images at a larger size requires a higher quality photo file so the image doesn’t look fuzzy or blurred. If a large photo file exists your artist may be quite happy to arrange a one-off large print so just ask.