Updated: 4 days ago
With over 300 unique art prints currently available, the Hong Kong Arts Collective is one of the best places in Hong Kong to buy affordable art prints from established and emerging artists. We list out a few of the things to look for when buying art prints and how best to look after them and ensure that you can enjoy them for years to come.
Woodcut print Image: Courtesy Michelle Kuen Suet Fung. "All Roads Lead To Polluta". View in shop.
Open Editions, Limited Editions and Artist Proof Prints
Generally speaking there are 3 types of fine art prints: open edition, limited edition and artist proof prints. Open editions are unlimited and because they tend to be more mass produced and less unique they tend to be cheaper than a limited edition print by the same artist. Limited edition prints are produced in smaller numbers and when the print run is met no more of those prints will ever be produced. This makes limited edition prints more unique and collectable. Artist Proof Prints (sometimes simply marked by the letters "AP" were originally the first test / sample print produced by the artist. These prints were normally kept by the artist and not part of the print run. The unique nature of artist proof prints has in some cases made them more valuable and collectable than limited edition prints by the same artist. Today the Artist Proof Print has perhaps moved from its original definition as a sample non-commercial print to meaning a limited edition of one. Artist Proof Prints are more commonly used by digital artists and photographers.
Open edition prints have no edition number and in theory can be produced forever. Limited edition prints are limited to a specific number which is determined by the artist. The lower the print run the more collectable and valuable the print is. Large print runs tend to be more common amongst photographers, digital artists and established mainstream artists. These print runs can range in the hundreds. However Its becoming more common to see smaller limited editions now of 50, 30 or even 10. Limited edition prints will always be numbered either somewhere on the print itself or on a certificate of authenticity. If no number is present the print may be an open edition.
Signed Or Unsigned
Open edition prints tend not to be signed. Limited edition prints and Artist proof prints are normally signed but in some cases don't have to be. A signature is always preferred though. In some cases, especially concerning more established artists, the edition may be authorised by a agency or estate. Its quite common for photographers to have estate stamped prints. Estate stamping or authorising is another way of signing that lets you know that the print is a official print. A authorised or estate stamp print will of course be less valuable though than a hand-signed print. Heading into the digital age you should also be conscious of hand-signing vs digital signing. Some artists due to logistics and constraints now opt to individually digitally sign prints. While technically fine, hand-signed prints are still more sought after. The subject of digital versus hand-signing is still up for debate and will probably change over the coming years especially with the evolution of blockchain technologies.
Traditional Prints, Digital Prints And Giclée Prints
Prints have been produced for hundreds of years. Traditionally a range of techniques can be used to create prints including (but in no way limited to) woodcut, linocut, etching, lithography and screen printing. The method of printing often requires a hand press to create a print which can result in each print being slightly different due to how the print was pressed. This makes traditional prints sometimes more sought after and more unique to their digital counterparts. Traditional prints are sometimes referred to as original prints due to their unique nature but the term can sometimes be confusing. Film / darkroom produced prints are also hand produced prints and although a comparatively more modern form of print production fall more into the traditional print camp. In contrast, digital prints and giclée prints are both produced from a digital image. The difference between a digital print and a giclée print is a giclée print is archival and specifically created for fine art. Commercial paper has acid within it which means that over time anything printed on it will dull, fade or yellow. Giclée printing typically uses a archival acid-free paper. As a result giclée prints are hailed as museum quality and many contemporary artists today use them. For a digital print or for a print that you are unsure how archival it is you can frame behind UV or museum quality glass to try to isolate the print from light and the elements as much as possible. A good framer will be able to help. It should be mentioned that acidity in paper and the fugitive nature of ink / paint are not just a problem in digital prints but in all art. As a result traditional prints will also potentially suffer from fading depending on the type of ink / paint and paper used but this can all be easily avoided if the print is appropriately framed and displayed.
Fine art print (giclee) image: Courtesy Rick Lo. "Whale Fall". View in shop.
Hand-Finished And Hand-Embellished Prints
Some artists choose to hand-finish or hand-embellish their prints. This implies a personal touch which could mean hand painting over parts of the print or applying a medium or even stitching something into the paper. The nature of hand-finished prints makes them a cross between a print and a original and makes them more unique and valuable.
Prints can be a great way to collect art and support local artists. They offer affordability while also potentially being quite unique and allowing your walls to stand out from the crowd. If you are concerned or confused when buying prints hopefully this article serves as a introduction to give you more confidence in what to look for. Lastly, if you find yourself browsing our collection and are unsure please don't hesitate to contact us. We will always be more than happy to walk you through any questions you may have.