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A Complete Guide to Ordering Art Prints For Business

Art prints need to be a touch above the rest and finding the right business to take care of your printing needs can be a minefield. However, this handy guide will show you a number of the things you should be looking out for.

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Art prints need to be a touch above the rest and finding the right business to take care of your printing needs can be a minefield. However, this handy guide will show you a number of the things you should be looking out for.

Reputation Matters

Do your research! If you are considering a certain business, there are several things that you should find out. How long has the business been trading? Is the owner a member of their local business group? Find out if there are any companies that your friends or family would recommend. Finally, look for a Fine Art trade Guild logo. This will help ensure that the business is a member of the Guild. The Fine Art Trade Guild has a stringent code of ethics that must be followed.

What is an art print?

There are two types of art prints. One is a handmade print made by artist/printmaker. The other type is either a digital (giclée) or a photomechanical reproduction (offset lithograph).

Artist Prints

Artist prints are hand painted, not just reproductions of famous paintings. This type of print is a unique work of art by each individual artist. The term artist print covers a wide range of printmaking techniques, including screen printing, lino cutting, woodcutting, engraving and etching. The material used to make the art prints wear out; therefore, the editions of this type of print is usually limited to less than 200. This type of art print is often labeled as an “original print”.

Limited Edition Reproduction

Limited edition reproductions are usually produced in a limited number. The smaller print number means the image is more exclusive.

Market prices rise over time, especially if the demand for a print outweighs the supply. Edition sizes can vary; however, they are limited by the market itself, rather than the constraints of the print methods. The Fine Art Trade Guild’s print standards set the maximum size of the edition and the Guild recommends that no more than 850 prints be done. This amount is considered a large edition. Art printing trends are normally much smaller. Most limited edition prints are signed and numbered using a pencil by the artist. Although most artists commit to making no other reproductions of an image, you should check the certificate of authenticity to ensure the print is unique and not a part of a large edition.

Open Edition Reproductions

Open edition reproductions can be reproduced in any quantity. The image from these prints can be used in a number of ways, including prints, tableware, fabrics and more. Open editions cost less than editions with limited runs and their values are less likely to increase. Oftentimes, these prints are called “posters” by Americans. However, the word “poster” is used worldwide to describe advertising artwork.

Giclée and Print on Demand

Giclée prints are manufactured using digital printing technology, such as an inkjet printer. This enables producers to run a small set of prints. Unfortunately, this also means that retailers can offer a “print on demand” service, which allows a buyer to choose an image and get it printed on the spot. It is important to understand that artists can use digital print technology to create original prints and not all Giclées are reproductions.

Understanding Print Quality

No matter the type of print you purchase, it should last a lifetime. The Guild requires that all prints be done on papers of at least 250 gsm and that giclee paper types should have an acidity level between pH7 and pH9. This helps minimize discoloring. Colors used in the print should be 6 or higher on the Blue Wool Scale, which is an industry-standard measurement used in the UK. Reproductions should be close facsimiles to the original work. The print should contain good color depth and be clear. Finally, the print should contain the artist’s signature which is used to endorse the print.

Fine art Trade Guild approved printers must have their printing practices accredited annually. You can use the Find a Member directory to search for a printer who is accredited by the Guild.


The art market is fickle and can be hard to predict. The reputation of the artist can affect the value of the art print. Because of this, it is important to research the recent prices of an artist as well as their past achievements. Rarity and condition are both important factors concerning value. Look for a certificate of authenticity and read the disclosure to find out any relevant information. If you are unsure of what to look for, ask a gallery owner. They have the knowledge you need to make a good decision.


If you are purchasing an antique print or buying from the secondary market, the condition of the piece can affect the value. If the edges have been trimmed, the print exposed to adverse conditions like sunlight or dampness, or the print is stuck down with glue, the value of the print can be diminished. Furthermore, brown spots, known as foxing, and visible ripples can diminish the value of a piece. If the colors in the piece are faded, it can also affect the price.