The art market covers diverse formats and mediums. One option is to buy limited edition art, an increasingly popular choice among collectors and art investors.
As soon as you know how to navigate the market, it can be a remarkable way to buy artworks. But there are some things you should consider first. We will examine the pros and cons of purchasing limited edition art below.
Photo: Sad (from The Colours of Emotion), Bryce Watanasoponwong, 2019 | Limited Edition
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of limited edition prints, it is worth looking at how they differ from other types of prints, especially the open edition.
- Limited Edition: A series of exact replicas of a limited number of copies.
- Open Edition: A series of prints with an indefinite number of copies.
Prints can be direct works of art, or they can be replicas of a work. It means that some prints are not a step away from the original; they are the original. When a limited edition is a printmaker's artwork, it can significantly improve the value. For example, consider Andy Warhol's famous silkscreen prints.
Image credit to hamiltonselway.com
The artist will often work with a master printer to hone the colours to make everything flawless.
In contrast to limited editions, open editions can be printed continuously. This means the value is relatively low.
But the limited edition print value can remain steady and even increase, as there is a finite number of prints. And the smaller the edition, the more valuable each print will be, all other factors equal.
A limited edition is numbered and signed by the artist. At the back of the print, you can see the total edition size (e.g. 100 prints) and where your print fell in the sequence (e.g. 50th), in which case, you will see 50/100 next to the signature. Typically, they will also come with a certificate of authenticity.
Photo: An example of Limited Edition size, Bryce Watanasoponwong, 2020
These features of the limited edition make them much more attractive to collectors. They are also appealing to artists because they allow an artist to make more sales of a single piece. Meanwhile, a print in every type of edition will almost always be lower than an original, meaning that buyers can get more artwork. So, it's a true win-win.
Photo: Koi and Cherry Blossom, Bryce Watanasoponwong, 2018 | Open Edition
There are many benefits when you buy limited edition prints. As an investment, they have some significant advantages to other, more traditional investments:
Limited editions can appreciate over time. If you make the right purchase, your artwork will gain value over time, sometimes by a lot.
The art can be enjoyed as it increases in value. Unlike a stock, a work of art brings you real-life value while you hold on to it.
The limited edition is a physical asset you can trust. No matter what happens to the value of the art, you will always have the actual print.
There is less market fluctuation in play with limited editions/Financial markets are notoriously volatile. While artwork can move up and down in value, the shifts are typically slower and more predictable.
Easier to start. Printing can be a more accessible place to start in art investing than in other mediums, such as paintings.
These benefits all hinge on the fact that limited editions are, as the name suggests, limited. Open editions cannot provide the same investment opportunity.
As for art buyers not seeking to invest, limited editions give you a unique piece -- though not precisely one-of-a-kind -- at a lower price point than many other forms of original art, like paintings. This means that you can buy and appreciate more artwork in your home or office.
Photo: Hyper Empathetic (from The Colours of Emotion), Bryce Watanasoponwong, 2019 | Limited Edition
While many people love their limited edition prints, there are some drawbacks:
Limited editions are not liquid. While it is nice to have a physical object, it necessarily means that you cannot immediately turn it into cash when you need to. That means you must not tie up money that you might need back quickly in limited edition prints.
Care and handling costs. While not prohibitively expensive, limited edition prints must be taken care of. That includes proper storage, framing, and hanging. If prints are mishandled, it can mean a total loss of value.
Barriers to entry. If you are looking to buy a limited edition print that you will appreciate over time, you must know something about the art market. Even if you find great works that are likely to be appreciated, you still have to find them for sale. This can be difficult, especially if you cannot afford an art adviser.
No guarantees. Like all investments, your limited-edition print is not guaranteed to increase in value.
These disadvantages are worth considering when purchasing limited edition prints as an investment. However, when you buy mainly to appreciate it on the wall, many of these concerns disappear.
Photo: Yellow Saree, Bryce Watanasoponwong, 2018 | Open Edition
Finding limited edition prints of fine art for sale may be a great opportunity. You could acquire a valuable artwork that you will enjoy for years to come, and, one day, resell it for a profit.
Of course, you should not consider any investment as a sure thing. But limited edition prints of fine art can be a hugely enjoyable way to collect art. With the wide range of options and countless beautiful prints available online, you can surely find something special.
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Be sure to check out my other blog Limited Edition vs Open Edition Photo Prints - Navigating the market.
Disclaimer, or , Use At Your Own Risk
All information and data on this blog post is only intended for information purpose. I make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, suitability, validity or any information. It is essential to do your analysis before making any investment based on your own personal circumstances. Any action you take upon the information on this blog post is strictly at your own risk. I shall not be liable for any errors, omissions, or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided in accordance with no warranties and does not confer any rights.
Photographer and visual storyteller based in Bangkok
BRYCE Watanasoponwong is a Thai-Australian photographer and visual storyteller. He is interested in producing a narrative series that evoke emotion and make a personal impact. Becoming more involved in how is photography is... read on