Telling the Difference Between an Original and an Art Print

By: Bob Danner

Is that a painting or a print? This is one question you’ll probably hear from first-time visitors to your home, who walk up the walls of your living room to admire the pieces of artwork hanging on your walls. To the untrained eye, everything can look like an original painting seeing as there are very few and often unnoticeable differences between an expensive art masterpiece and its less expensive but nonetheless beautiful reproduction the art print.

People often go to art galleries online and off, browsing through well-known works of art and purchase them thinking that they’ve just bought an original but get art prints instead. To start distinguishing between the two, let us define what art prints are. Art prints are reproductions of original works created using a printmaking technique. One of the most common types of print is done by a photo-mechanical process wherein the image is photographically transferred from an original source and is mass produced. Sometimes they are mistaken for giclee prints or reproductions that are done with pigment inks. You can check to see the differences between original art prints and giclee prints.

Modern art buyers and collectors these days, understand the importance of getting the right artwork to hang in their homes or workplaces but without paying exorbitant prices. Though original art works are great investments, there’s something to be said about buying art prints that cost just about $40 each. It’s actually a whole new level of shabby chic to hang these magnificent reproductions and having your guests think they’re the real thing. If you want to check out some cheap but beautiful prints that cater to any taste and budget, you can buy canvas prints online at sites like Lemon Tree Art, which sells both original artworks and modern works from new artists.

So in order to be safe rather than sorry when buying art online or off, here are a few ways to tell whether you are buying an original masterpiece or an original art print. First off, you need to know that original art prints are artwork from a matrix, defined as a single metal plate, stone/wooden block or screen upon which an impression is made by the artist and the matrix is later destroyed after use.

Art prints are also traditionally signed and numbered by the artist and generally labeled as “Limited Edition” prints. The numbering is done in this format: 149/300, 149 being the number of that print and 300 the number of times it has been reproduced. When you buy art prints at Lemon Tree Art you will notice that the prints will be very flat and have a dot matrix pattern, similar to ones you see in newspapers and magazines. They will also have clean and sharp edges which buyers don’t often take the time to look at. Plus, they will also have identification numbers and copyright logos in small letters either at the front or back.

Original masterpieces on the other hand, are 100% created by the artist and are totally one-of-a-kind. They can be on canvas, paper, linen, wood and other materials. They will have textured brush strokes, and even those done in watercolor or gouache paintings will typically be done in rough paper and have a distinctive grain.

Original paintings will also have irregular and uneven paint on the edge of the stretched canvas and when examined under strong lights, will yield pencil lines from the artist’s original sketch as well as the changes made during the course of the painting. And lastly like the original paintings from new artists that you can view on original painting will have rich colors and will feel like an original painting by its rich smells and textures.

This article can be very well summed up in six words: be careful when buying art prints. You may come across some giclee prints that also have textured brush strokes and signed by the artists. If you really want to make sure what you are purchasing is an original masterpiece, do a background check on the artist or consult art gallery owners or art professionals about it. You can do an online search on Google, Yahoo or have it appraised as well.

In the meantime, if you want to quickly put on some décor on your walls, you can visit LemonTreeArt website for chic and cheap artworks and find ones that you like and can afford. Good taste doesn’t necessarily mean you need to purchase expensive stuff…it simply means you have a good eye and know what looks good.

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Collect art as if you were collecting the original masterpieces but without the expensive prices. Buy canvas prints online from and get ones that will fit any taste, budget or collection perfectly.

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