Art 101: The Difference Between Prints and Original Works of Art - Art 101: The Difference Between Prints and Original Works of Art -
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Art 101: The Difference Between Prints and Original Works of Art

Art 101: The Difference Between Prints and Original Works of Art

Written by:
Callie Meyer
Mar 10, 2021

Whether you’re a seasoned critic or simply an art lover, knowing the difference between prints and originals is a critical step in art appreciation and collection. While the difference may be obvious to some, the nuance of prints versus originals can change how people interact with art on a daily basis, and it’s important to understand pricing, accessibility, and content associated with each.

Has an art snob friend boasted that they “only buy originals”? or have you been considering getting new art to liven the walls of your home, workspace, or virtual classroom? Well this information is for you! We’ve broken up the differences between prints and original works into different categories depending on your needs.

The Short Answer

To sum it up, the difference between prints and original works of art is that the original is the only one of its kind, is usually signed by the artist, and may contain a little more depth than a print of the same work. (Just because of the texture of the paint on the original surface.)

However, if you’re a broke college student like me, originals could be completely out of reach because of the sheer price. 

But this is where technology of the 21ST century shines as prints have become an affordable way to enjoy the original at a lower cost and is almost as good as the original. Prints of paintings can be re-printed on many different mediums than just the intended one, which allows us to make art more accessible. 

If you don’t really care (as many of us don’t) about the future value of the piece, and want to open yourself up to a much wider variety of works, prints are a great way to go, and can be done in really high quality on beautiful archival papers.


Are Originals Worth It? 

It depends… are you trying to make an investment or more of a one-time purchase? 

Original works of art that our art snob counterparts love to champion are almost like a stock in the sense that you pay now and hopefully later the piece is worth more, so you can make a profit, which in turn makes original works of art very expensive. 

While we get why this type of elite art world stuff garners headlines and draws crowds, but we at IPaintMyMind, we’re much more interested in equitable access to art than exclusive stock purchasing.

Originals can vary in their price range as both Banksy and your favorite local artist can have originals for sale at the same time, but not the same price due to the snobbery of elitist art circles. Say your favorite artist has originals for sale, I would go ahead and pounce on the opportunity to support someone. Buying originals of any caliber can be almost impossible if you don’t know where to start, but that’s where prints come in! 

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The Snobbery of “Art Investment”

Two of the most important keywords when learning about art distribution are affordability and accessibility. Affordability and accessibility are key ideas at IPaintMyMind and sharing knowledge of the art world is just one way we make art accessible to all. Nevertheless,  “Art Investment” is an idea in wealthy art circles that one must only purchase originals because they have more monetary value.  While original pieces may capture light differently and have more texture than prints, they are generally not affordable for the public and are hardly accessible. The additional snobbery of “investment” in originals is the idea that art has to be expensive to have value, and thus owning originals becomes a status symbol for the upper class. Because of this formality, hardly anyone can experience that artist’s work, and the gatekeeping of art is perpetuated. 

Coloring Book

Print as a Multi-Medium Expression

One bonus of living in the modern era is the invention of the printing press and more recently and applicable to modern artists, giclees printed with inkjet printers, as these machines allow us to not only reproduce an artist’s work affordably and efficiently, but it also allows us to print iconic art pieces onto other items that the artist might not have originally intended. If you love art and are looking for more ways to add it into your life, I would suggest prints as your next at home art exhibit. The same technology that allows us to print many beautiful pieces for our clients and communities also facilitates the use of art on other textiles, not just wall hangings. 

Do you really like Van Gogh, but can’t pay the $60 to get a print of your favorite piece? Then try getting that art printed on a canvas bag, mug, or a rug!

If you want a Van Gogh print canvas bag, use our affiliated link!

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Prints and Where to Find Them

While an original piece is not a print, a print is a replication of the original piece. Brain bender, huh? Well just because a piece of art is a print does not make it unoriginal. An artist still created the idea, executed the plan, and replicated it to make it more accessible and affordable to the general public. Artists also may only print a certain amount of prints of their piece, those pieces are called limited prints. 

At IPaintMyMind, we love how accessible and democratic prints are. They allow folks to become art collectors, even if they don’t have tons of money laying around! It’s actually how IPMM’s founder, Evan La Ruffa began collecting art, and its why we only add prints to our Permanent Collection. Learn more about how our 1500+ piece Permanent Collection is used in our Art Rental Services, and Shared Walls programming! And check out some lists we’ve compiled of our favorite artists and their websites so you can purchase some prints of your own!

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Written by:
Callie Meyer
Mar 10, 2021