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Buying Art: Originals or Prints?

When purchasing a new piece of art for a room in your home, there are certain things you must consider. First, of course, is the size of the piece of art that you want for the space. Do you have a huge wall that needs to be filled by one piece, or would you rather have several smaller pieces and make a collage wall? What subjects or color schemes do you want? Once you answer these questions, you then have to decide whether you want originals or prints. There are pros and cons to both options! Let’s explore them below.


Pro #1: You get the piece that the artist actually worked on.

When you buy an original, you get the one-and-only original. With originals, you can see the brushstrokes (or pen strokes, or pencil marks) of the artist. Some mediums, like acrylic or oils, can have a dimension to them and will show the hand of the artist in how they apply the medium to the canvas or paper. When you buy an original, you are not just buying a pretty picture, you are buying the distinct way that the artist uses their chosen medium. 

Pro #2: Originals make a room special.

Original art pieces can take a room and make it into something more. When you buy an original and put it somewhere special, you elevate that space and make it even better. Originals can be an incredible statement in a living room or office, or even your personal room for your art collection. If you have a very special spot to hang art, you may want to consider investing in an original.

A print next to an original. Which is which?

Pro #3: The colors and textures are exactly the way the artist intended them to be.

Modern technology and printers have made it much easier to recreate art as prints. Prints can now be done on specialty papers, metal, canvas, or glass. But even though the technology is much better now than it was in decades past, sometimes there are differences between the original and the print. Colors may be slightly off, and a print can’t capture the texture of an original painting. 

Con #1: Originals can be very expensive.

Original art is an investment, especially for large pieces. Originals can run from the hundreds to the hundreds-of-millions of dollars, depending on the size, medium, and how well established the artist is. 

Con #2: Original art can be difficult to frame or ship, depending on the size.

Depending on the size and media that the art is done on, originals can be difficult to frame or ship, depending on the size. Obviously it’s going to be difficult (and expensive!) to ship a 6-foot-by-8-foot canvas painting across the country, and equally as expensive and difficult to get a frame built for it. 

Texture on the Appaloosa original drawing

Ready to purchase some of my original art? I have many available in my Etsy Shop!

Art Prints

Pro #1: Prints are much cheaper than originals.

Well, for the most part. I’ve seen some printing methods that can make a print almost as much as an original! But most art prints that are not done with high-cost printing methods are much more economical than buying originals. This makes prints a better option if the space you are decorating is less “special” and would benefit from having lower-priced art. For instance, when buying art for a child’s room it may be better to go the cheaper route than to spend the money for originals because children can change interests often.

Pro #2: Easier to frame and ship than originals.

If your chosen artist chooses to print on standard photo sizes, it can be much easier to find a frame and also to ship the print than it would be to ship a large original. I try to keep my prints and my originals to standard photo sizes when possible to make matting and framing easier (all my originals and prints can have frames purchased at any store because I stick to common sizes!). This also makes shipping easier as well, without needing special packaging and also keeping it economical for my customers.

Pro #3: Prints aren’t the only one available.

If you find a painting that you love, but the artist has already sold it to someone else (or they don’t sell their originals), then you can’t purchase the painting. But when the artist offers prints, you still have a chance at owning that image. Unless the artist does limited edition prints and they’re sold out, but we’re being positive here.

The print looks almost as good as the original, but misses some of the texture.

Con #1: Prints sometimes have noticeable differences from the original.

As stated above, the technology used for creating art reproductions has really improved in modern times, to the point that some prints look almost identical to the original. But sometimes there are noticeable differences between the print and the original. This may or may not be a dealbreaker for you though, but some art collectors can tell!

Con #2: Prints may not last as long as original art.

Prints can be more prone to color fading and other damage, depending on the printing method, media, and how they are stored. But originals can hold their color and quality for much longer if they are displayed and handled correctly. 

Ready to purchase some art prints? You can buy prints of my art through my online shop or from my Etsy store!