The obvious answer to this question is that an original painting is one of a kind, and when you purchase an original, you purchase the only one in existence.
A print, which can be done on all sorts of papers, using all types of inks and employing different kinds of printers, is a multiple of an original, and when you buy a print, you are buying one of many – an unlimited many, in the case of what is called an unlimited run; or a specific one of many, as in a limited edition run of 50 prints, which means that only 50 prints of a particular painting, in a particular size and on a particular paper or canvas, are created before the artist removes the printed work – again in a particular size on a particular subsurface – from circulation.
Many people like knowing that they own the only one of a particular painting, and they are willing to pay the price to the artist for this privilege. Other people, however, wish to collect fine art on their walls, but they do not have the budget to pay for an original. For these collectors, a print is an affordable way to enjoy the unique work of a particular artist.
Because the artist does not need to invest hours and hours of painting time into creating each print, he is able to offer the item at a lower price, while at the same time providing the collector with access to his, the artist’s work.
At Steve Henderson Fine Art, we sell original oil and watercolor paintings, limited edition prints on archival paper and stretched canvas, and miniatures and studies, so that we can provide our collectors with a variety of sizes and price ranges from which to choose. Within this spectrum of variety, what remains consistent is the quality of the work – both its artistic excellence as well as the superiority of the materials on which it is painted or reproduced.
Next week: What does "Archival Quality" mean and why is this important?