What are ‘original prints’? And what does it mean when we say they are ‘limited edition’?

How can a print be ‘original?

‘Original’ prints, also known as  ‘fine art prints’ include techniques like etchings, engravings and linocuts. The method of producing each piece creates a print. The artist has hand carved, cut or drawn the original picture, and has applied ink or paint to a surface and has ‘printed’ it onto another surface multiple times. This often means that although the image produced looks the same each time, they are actually all slightly different. Imagine stamping an ink stamp onto paper multiple times – sometimes the image produced will be lighter, or inkier, or at a different angle.

What does a ‘limited edition’ print mean?

Many artists offer their prints in a limited edition series. Limited edition prints exist in a specific quantity determined in advance by the artist. You might see an inscription that says “5/100,” meaning you have the fifth print of a limited edition of 100 pieces. 

Due to their limited versions, the quantity of these prints is scarce. Most of the time, limited edition prints exist in a small number ranging from 2 and a few thousand. Often these prints can often keep the same value or increase in price.

Once a limited edition is created and then sold, it cannot be changed when the collection is out on the marketplace. If artists did this, the number run would change, and the limited edition’s value would decrease greatly. As a result, the artist would lose trust from their buyers and collectors. 

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