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Understanding Art: Originals Vs Limited Edition Vs Artists Proof Vs Open Prints

As a framer, I interact with some amazing artists and art collectors across India whom we educate regarding framing and reproductions. Understanding the key differences between originals, artists proof, serigraphs and open edition prints is vital when you invest in art.


Mona Lisa at Louvre Museum

Original artworks can be a unique painting or any artwork produced by an artist. An original is usually signed and dated by the artist themselves. There are certain exceptions to this. All originals may not be signed and dated. Every artist has his/her style in signing their artworks. Some may prefer to sign it at the back of the canvas or some may choose not to mark it. People generally buy expensive artworks with the intention of investment. The value of an original does not necessarily increase with time. The value of an original artwork depends on several factors like the artist’s reputation, art size, provenance, market demand and most importantly, the condition of the artwork.

Limited Editions

Limited edition prints as the name suggests are limited in number. Earlier only used by artists, today limited editions are used by photographers, illustrators and designers too. Limited editions are signed and numbered series is written at the bottom of the print which states the copy number. The style is 10/100, meaning it’s the 10th print out of 100 prints printed in an edition. They are commonly produced by photolithography, Giclée printing or serigraphy. Serigraphs used by artists is known as silkscreen printing is a process in which paint or ink is passed through a stencil or mesh. The mesh is manually or electronically created and the printing produces one color at a time. The stencils are broken once the printing is done to prevent re-printing and misuse. Silkscreen prints are valuable in the market. Giclée prints are mainly used by photographers or illustrators. Giclée printing requires a top-end fine art inkjet printer with archival inks and archival paper. It produces impeccable photo quality due to a larger gamut. With advanced printing technology and technique artists prefer Giclée printing due to its speed, detail and accuracy. Every print is signed and numbered by the artist.

Artists Proof

Artist's proofs are similar to Limited Editions. Before the printing process begins, the publishes distribute up to 5 prints to the artists. These are marked as ‘AP’. They are signed and numbered by the artist. Artist Proofs are more valuable than limited edition prints. As a norm, The Fine Art Guild prints need to be Conservation-level framed as a minimum.

Open Edition Prints

Open edition prints mean that an unspecified number of prints can be produced from an image. They are used as posters, photos, prints and can also be seen in other forms such as T-shirts, keychains, bags, etc. It should not be assumed that an open edition print is invaluable. The image content, paper quality & ink quality influence the price of prints. At ARA, all our Open Edition Prints are Giclée printed on archival paper with archival inks lasting a minimum of 100 years. The results look stunning.

Things To Know -

  1. Knowledge - If you are buying an original or a limited edition, always read about what you plan to buy before making a purchase. Check rates of similar artworks in the series before you plan to buy an artist's work.

  2. Fake Certificates - We come across several limited edition artworks with fake certificates issued to the buyer. A fake certificate is issued on the pretext of selling the artwork. It is important to verify proofs, facts and invoices before making a purchase.

  3. Provenance - You need to know the ownership history of the artwork that you intend to buy.

  4. Conservation & Condition - The condition of an artwork is extremely critical when you make a purchase. There are certain artworks we come across which are extremely expensive and poorly framed and conserved. This ruins the value and investment. You need to check the condition of an artwork thoroughly before you buy it and after buying, you need to conserve and frame the artwork to enhance and protect the artwork.

To get your artworks reframed, book an appointment with ARA Frames -

Buy M.F. Husain Serigraphs & Artists Proof -

To receive a complimentary consultation on your artworks from certified consultants and framers, contact -


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