HOW ARE PRINTS PRICED?

PRIMER:

HOW ARE PRINTS PRICED?

Everything that goes into determining a print's value.

What exactly makes a print valuable? Though some may confuse prints with reproductions, fine art prints are original works of art in and of themselves that take serious expertise to execute. To understand the nuances and learn the many factors that go into determining the price for fine art prints, Platform spoke with Elleree Erdos, Director of Prints at David Zwirner Gallery, to learn everything from why the kind of printing technique used matters to how an artist's larger body of work comes into play.

Is determining a print's value any different from deciding the value of other kinds of art?

When pricing a print, there are some additional factors that go into pricing a print versus a painting or drawing, for example. When a print is first released, in addition to size, strength of the image and what the artist's other work (both unique works and prints) generally sells for, the edition size (how many prints of the same image were made), technique, number of colors, and even production costs can factor into print pricing. Later, once some of the prints from the edition have been sold, and especially once there is a secondary market (as people are re-selling their prints), the price of recent sales from that edition become a factor, too.

How does the kind of printing technique used impact the price?

Prints made using more labor-intensive techniques are typically priced higher than prints that are simpler to make. As a result, prints made using intaglio techniques (etching, engraving, mezzotint) and woodcuts are therefore usually priced higher than screenprints and lithographs. Multicolored prints are also typically more expensive, since each color generally requires a new plate. Some prints are embellished or colored by hand, making them unique works and therefore much pricier.

Prints are usually made in editions with a limited run. Do prints automatically get more expensive when the edition size is small?

Prints can be made in either limited or open editions. Prints in a limited edition are made in limited amounts typically determined by the artist and the printer in advance of the print run. Prints from small editions are typically more valuable because they are rarer.
A close-up of Rosa Loy's print, Bleiben oder Gehen, available on Platform.

Does the size of a print always relate to its price?

The size of a print does not always correlate directly to its price. Certain printmaking techniques – like etching – are limited by the size of the press used, whereas others – like silkscreen – can be made on a larger scale. However, the same techniques that are limited in size can also be some of the most labor-intensive and costly techniques.

What about the value of other kinds of works by the same artist? Is there always a direct connection between how an artist's paintings, for example, are valued and how their prints are valued?

In general, an artist's prints are priced on a scale relative to their paintings and other works, with the specific demand for their prints factored in. However, artists often like to create prints in order to give a broader audience access to their work, and therefore may prefer to keep prices low.

Is the value of prints any more or less stable than the value of other kinds of works?

The market for prints isn't necessarily always more or less stable than the value of other works, but it does respond to those markets. If, for example, the market for an emerging artist's work heats up and that artist's prices rise significantly, buyers who may have been interested but can no longer afford paintings may seek out prints by that same artist as a more affordable way to own their work. If demand for the prints rises, prices will too. And unlike reproductions, fine art prints appreciate in value over time.

Are the special prints reserved for the artist (APs or Artist's Proofs) more or less valuable than prints from the numbered edition?

There is no difference in quality between APs and works from the numbered edition. Some people may consider APs to be more valuable because they are typically the property of the artist and therefore come to market less frequently.

How about prints that are signed versus prints that aren't?

Signed prints are always more valuable than unsigned prints because the signature is proof that the artist was involved in the production of the print. Prints sold on Platform are exclusively signed original fine art prints – you won't find any reproductions here.