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Limited, open and original: Editions explained.

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Limited, open and original: Editions explained.

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    Entry into the world of art collecting can be daunting, pieces can vary wildly in price dependent on innumerable factors and can range massively in terms of their scarcity, production methods and provenance.

    You'll often come across terms such as 'original', 'limited-edition' or 'artist proof' in your searches for new pieces. Here at Helm we want to provide a quick and easy guide to help you decipher terminology and aid in your search for something you love.

    Here are a few key terms - and what they really mean:

    Original works: 
    Original works are 1-of-1 pieces made by the artist. They are typically the most sought-after artworks and represent the hardest pieces to come by for any collector. Original pieces carry the most value and collectability and more often than not represent the ideal pieces for anyones collection.
    Original works can take on many forms, they may be sculptural, drawings or more commonly painted works on canvas or paper. They're unique, with the viewer being able to see the different techniques used in the process – brushstrokes, textures of paint and marks where tools have been used to create the piece give the finished work a comprehensive insight into the artists process.
     
    Regardless of what form they take they have an undeniable edge over printed works in terms of appeal and long-term value with the caveat that entry price for originals is the highest you'll typically find for any artist.
     
    Limited-edition prints: 
    Limited-edition prints are an excellent way to acquire works produced by an artist in a more accessible, cost-effective way compared to originals.
     
    Printed works can be made in many ways and are typically produced as a limited run, hand-signed and numbered by the artist themselves rather than having a reproduced signature. The smaller a print run, the more valuable a print tends to be (this can vary from artist to artist). Print runs can range from less than 10 in total to well over 100.
     
    Prints are almost a collaboration between a printing studio and an artist, they're not merely copies of an original work – they have their own level of appeal and value. Prints also have the potential to be excellent investments, you will find many prints go up in value as time goes on, or as they either sell out/come towards the end of their edition run.
     
    Limited-edition prints have become an absolute staple of most peoples collection due to their comparative affordability whilst keeping a strong element of exclusivity. Even though they're not unique like an original work they provide the easiest way into art ownership for any aspiring collector and have fast become the most common path to building a respectable collection.
     
    Artist proofs/Printers proofs:
    Artist proofs and Printers proofs are test prints done by either the artist themselves or the printers that will produce the rest of the edition. They exist outside of the standard edition numbers and will typically have a run of between 5-10% of the total run (for an edition of 100 for example, there will typically be 10 Artist/Printers proofs total).
     
    Proofs are made to test the quality before the larger edition and may have unique features such as hand-finishing. They will be signed as either 'AP' or 'PP' along with the artists signature.
     
    Due to their relative rarity compared to the standard edition Artist proofs and Printers proofs are typically more valuable and sought-after than any print in the standard edition.
     
    Open-edition prints:
    Open-edition prints follow a similar pattern to limited-edition works, the main difference being is that there is not a finite number to the overall print run. Instead, the edition may continue to be printed over and over again.
    As a general rule open-edition prints are less valuable than limited-edition works. They may still be worth thousands of pounds depending on production method, provenance or scale of the work, but as a whole are considered less desirable than limited-edition pieces.
     
    Open-editions tend not to be hand-signed by the artist and may instead have a reproduction of their signature or be signed with a stamp/issued with a certificate of authenticity.

    Still unsure? 

    If you need any further help or clarification you can contact us here and speak to one of our trained art advisors today

     

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