Sometimes people think they are getting an original painting and they end up getting a print. To avoid confusion, it is becoming important to know how to distinguish a print from an original painting.
Art Prints are multiples of the same piece, created through a printmaking technique. One of the most common types of prints is the one produced by a photo-mechanical process. The image is photographically transferred from an original source and is mass reproduced. Do not confuse this with original prints.
Original Prints are artwork from a matrix, which is generally a single metal plate; stone block, wooden block or screen that is hand-made by the artist. Each impression is done by the artist or artisan and the matrix is later destroyed. The prints are traditionally signed and numbered in pencil by the artist and generally called “Limited Edition Prints”. The numbering is done in this format: 149/300. Original prints can also be considered investments and bring with them the level of status that mass reproductions do not.
Before you ask a museum curator, art collector, appraiser or other art expert, these tips can help you differentiate a Print from an Original Painting:
- An Original Painting has textured brush strokes. Watercolor or gouache original paintings will typically be in a rough paper with a distinctive grain.
- A Print is usually flat and has a dot matrix pattern, the same pattern you find in magazines or book images.
- An Original Painting has irregular and uneven paint on the edges of the stretched canvas.
- A Print usually has sharp, even and clean edges; where the buyer typically does not look.
- An Original Painting examined under a strong light might show pencil lines from the artist's original sketch and changes made by the artist while painting.
- A Print frequently has a number of identification and a copyright logo printed in small letters.
- An Original Painting has rich and vibrant colors, and overall, looks, feels and smells like an original.
Art buyers and art collectors beware of some giclee prints that might have textured brush marks and might still be hand-signed by the artist. Also, the artist signature, a copyright logo and even a certificate of authenticity are not necessarily proof of an Original Painting. If you are interested in a genuine work of art and need more information, you can investigate the artist. You could do a search in Google, Yahoo, go to galleries, or ask professionals.
It is also important to understand “Limited Edition Prints”. These can be Original Prints or just photo mechanical reproductions that are hand-signed and numbered by the artist. In other words, Original Prints may be Limited Edition Prints but not the other way around.
Finally, whether the painting is a Print or Original, what really matters is what you like and how much you are willing to pay for. What the painting transmits to you in such a way that you have a connection with it, and it feels to you to bring beauty and harmony to your room.