Updated: Nov 7, 2020
What's the difference and why does it matter? A good question about lots of things from car buying to, yes... art buying.
"Art collecting requires a bit of an investment. A painting may cost more than cheese puffs, but not necessarily more than a very good bottle of wine." -Glen Helfand
The value of the art in your collection can never be summed up in dollars. It's how it makes you feel that makes it an important part of your life. By this theory, a show poster from your favorite rock band may be the most valued piece you own. It's also nice to consider the longevity of the piece, quality of materials, and it's rarity. If all was lost, could you replace this piece online or is it the only of its kind? Furthermore, does it even matter to you if something is unique and has limited availability?
Originals, Prints, Posters
Defining these three wall art options is simple:
An original is a one of a kind, make by the artist, and now owned by you.
A print is a copy of an original, usually using very high quality paper and inks to create a giclee or archival print, and typically has a limited print run that is controlled by the artist.
The poster industry is booming right now, because not only are more and more artists work available on popular poster websites, it's an affordable way to acquire an image that you really dig. The quality is lower than a print and the number of copies available is almost limitless due to print on demand technology.
Given these definitions, it's easy to see how monetary value is placed on each. Originals are priceless! Ok, not entirely true, but they are more costly because the artist created just one.
The print is still limited and unique, but the artist can sell the image many times, therefore the price is considerably less than an original of the same size, by the same artist. You pay for the rarity of it, and the process and materials of making a fine art giclee, as well as the reputation of the artist.
A poster is made with cheaper materials and can by sold indefinitely making this the least expensive kind of art to buy if you're on a limited budget.
I won't lie, I've purchased a $25 poster only to spend more than $200 to frame it. Why? Because I loved it! That's the only reason you need to purchase art and place your own value on it.