Tag Archives: wall art

What Is the Difference between an Open Edition and Limited Edition Print?

28 Mar

Wall art comes in all shapes, sizes, formats, and editions — from an original painting to a print to a poster to a greeting card, and the prices vary accordingly.

In the world of prints, there are many factors, but one of the major differences lies between an open edition and limited edition print.

Mesa Walk, its original sold, is available as a signed limited edition and open edition print.

Mesa Walk, its original sold, is available as a signed limited edition and open edition print.

A limited edition print is so named because its run — the number of these prints that are created and sold — is limited to a specific number, say, 200. Each run is determined by size and any other qualifying factors; for instance, you can have a limited edition run of an image in a 12 x 15 size on paper, another run of 16 x 20 on paper, a third run of 12 x 15 on canvas, and so on. If you purchase the 5th print sold in the 12 x 15 on paper run, then somewhere on the print will be written (generally in pencil, since this is difficult to forge) 5/200, which indicates that your print is the 5th piece out of a total of 200 to be created in this particular run.

The print may or may not be signed by the artist, and if so, will be of increased value. It also may or may not include a Certificate of Authenticity, a piece of paper or form that lists out the run size, the number of your print in the run, and information on inks and paper, and the date that the print was created.

Sometimes, but not always, limited edition prints are created with archival quality inks on archival quality substrate — paper or canvas — and if so, the artist or company selling the print will make sure to inform you of this, since these archival quality materials ensure a superior product that will last a much longer time than a print created with non-archival quality materials. Do not assume that, just because a print is described as limited edition, that it is archival quality.

A limited edition print that is signed, archival quality, and accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity will likely cost more than an open edition print (but significantly less than the original painting), simply because it has been in more direct contact with the artist.

An open edition print has no limit on its run, and frequently, it can be created in the thousands, tens of thousands, or more. It also costs less, and you will find it in box stores or on large Internet shopping conglomerate sites. There is absolutely nothing “wrong” with an open edition print, as it is a very affordable means of getting art on people’s walls. Because of the low cost factor, open edition prints tend not to be printed on archival quality paper.

"Lady" by Steve Henderson, is available as an open edition print throught Light in the Box

“Lady” by Steve Henderson, is available as an open edition print throught Light in the Box

So, which to buy? It is up to the individual consumer. Prints of some artist’s work may be available only through the artist himself, and if you like his work, then this is the option to consider. Other artists — like Steve Henderson at Steve Henderson Fine Art — offer signed limited edition prints through the website, but also make their work available as open edition prints in the commercial market.

Mesa Walk, for example, is available as a signed, limited edition print in various sizes through Steve Henderson Fine Art. It is also available as open edition wall art through Light in the Box, a globally directed online shopping site. The original painting is sold.

Prints — limited or open edition, archival quality or not, signed or unsigned — enable people of varying budgets and economic lifestyles to enjoy fine art.