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Common Misconceptions About Prints

There are several misconceptions about prints, what a fine print actually is, how they are made and what their value is. Fine art prints are created and endorsed by the artists themselves. They have become some of the most in-demand types of artwork on the market, not only for the more often attainable price point, but also because fine art prints are the creative result of a unique and collaborative partnership between the artist and printmakers, who are highly trained, creative technicians in their own right.


Misconceptions About Prints | Cottage beside a Canal with a View of Ouderkerk by Harmensz van Rijn Rembrandt
Cottage beside a Canal with a View of Ouderkerk, 1641, Harmensz van Rijn Rembrandt

Some of the most renowned master artists were pioneers in printmaking in their time, including Rembrandt van Rijn, who began etching early in his career, and Pablo Picasso, who created more than 1000 prints (including lithographs, etchings, and engravings) over the course of his life. By definition, a print is a work of graphic art which has been conceived by the artist to be realised as an original work of art rather than a copy of a work in another medium. 


Misconceptions About Prints | Danse nocturne avec un Hibou by Pablo Picasso
Danse nocturne avec un Hibou, 1959, Pablo Picasso



Woodblock printing is the very early printing process that began in China in his 13th century for printing on cloth. The arrival of paper in Europe around this time created opportunities for new design media. As paper became more available, other forms of printing began to emerge and develop, including engraving, etching, mezzotint and aquatint, lithography, silkscreen, and serigraphy. The first European woodblock prints on paper were playing cards.


Skull by Andy Warhol Composition Gallery
Skull, 1976, Andy Warhol


It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that prints saw a surprising rise among the most famous artists of the time. Andy Warhol being a key proponent of screenprinting. These innovations have been translated into Post-War and contemporary practices and remain a coveted medium by artists. Making prints expresses an artist’s desire to add dimension, breadth and meaning to his or her work and to refine the craft. These are qualities that collectors should look for when considering an artist to collect.

Common misconceptions of prints are:


Misconception 1
An art print is a copy of an “original” work of art.

A print is not a reproduction of the work in any other medium. Fine art prints are the result of a complex and detailed process that produces multiple iterations of artwork, usually through a transfer process.There are many different types of prints, but the most common and well-known is the , lithograph, etching, silkscreen, and woodcut. The most important factor to note is that each work is considered an “original” and all impressions have elements of the original (color and texture variations, paper size, etc.) and therefore should be called impressions rather than copies about it. No two impressions are the same.


Misconception 2

Fine art prints are pre-made by artists, sent to graphic designers, and mass-reproduced from pre-existing ‘originals’ using simple reproduction techniques, without the artist’s presence.

Printmaking is the result of a close partnership between artist and printer. The artist is the creator of the print edition and is involved in the entire process from start to finish. Furthermore, the method can still be highly experimental for both printers and artists, so the end result (if done well) is often only achievable in the printing process and on paper. It presents amazing images full of textures, variations and characteristics. Reachable.


Misconception 3
Prints are created for the sole purpose of commercialising and monetising an artist’s work and making it accessible to as many people as possible.

Prints are usually not made in large numbers, but in limited editions and sold through specific means, such as galleries, publishers, or the artist themself (for example, how posters are made is open edition printing). The printmaking process and the process of creating the final print are as important as the other mediums used by the artist (painting, drawing, sculpture, etc.).

Misconception 4
Paper is always the same.

Paper type and weight are very important and can greatly affect the appearance of the final printed image. Moreover, the best printing professionals take a keen interest not only in the artistic process, but also in the printing paper (there are hundreds of different types).

Fine art prints are some of the finest and most innovative forms of creation in the history of art production and continue to grow in both importance and demand. They serve as notable additions to the artist’s repertoire and contain themes, compositions and explorations for the artist to share in new and interesting ways. And perhaps the best thing about prints is that they are a great entry point for collecting masters and are much less expensive though may still warrant high prices.