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What is a Fine Art Print?

An original print is a work of art created by an artist alone, or in collaboration with a master printmaker. The requirements of an original print are that:


  • the image is created by hand on a metal plate, stone, wood block, lino block, screen or other material, and printed in a limited edition on fine art %100 rag paper to ensure longevity 

  • the finished print is signed and numbered by the artist in an edition usually under 100

An original print is distinguished from other so-called prints in that it is not photographically reproduced from another image.

Fine art prints can be etchings, engravings, lithographs, woodcuts, linocuts, serigraphs (screenprints) or collographs. 

Prints are highly collectable items and may increase in value according to the artist’s reputation, and the particular work. Original prints by artists increase in value in time in the same way as paintings. 

When an original print edition is completed, the original plate or block is cancelled, ensuring the originality and limit of the edition.

A photographically produced offset lithograph print, a photographically derived silk screen print or a giclee/iris print can be referred to as a reproduction of an already existing image. If they are signed by the artist, the signature does not give them integrity as an original fine art print. 

Photographically derived prints have limited future as collectibles.

“A reproduction has no special value even when produced in a signed limited edition many prominent artist have had their paintings reproduced through printmaking technologies and have had these signed reproductions marketed inappropriately as ‘original prints', hence debasing the currency of printmaking. 

Fortunately the art collecting public is becoming increasingly well informed about what constitutes and original etching, lithograph, screen print or relief print and over priced reproductions are becoming more of an embarrasement to their owners than a prudent investment.” 

Sasha Grishin
Australian Art Review Issue 13, March 2007

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