Art 101

Guide to Prints

Learn how to tell a print from a painting, the different types of prints and how to tell if a print is valuable.

By Rise Art

Getting to know your prints is a good first step for those looking to expand their art knowledge. This guide to answers some of the most commonly asked questions about prints. If you're looking for prints for sale, take a look at our collection here.


What kinds of prints are there?

In essence, a print is an image that is created on one surface and then transferred to another, meaning that it can be reproduced multiple times. Throughout history, artists have experimented with various kinds of printmaking processes, making it a diverse and exciting art form to discover. Here are some of the most common processes:

  • Screenprints: This is a variety of stencil painting that makes use of fabric which has been stretched out across a frame. The areas on the fabric that are not to be printed are blocked out with a stencil that may be created with film or paper. Paint or ink is then forced through the screen and onto the surface of the artwork. Get to know the medium by exploring the work of Bruce Mclean, a British artist whose simple yet bold artworks are making waves.

  • Lino Printing: In lino prints, the plate is cut into linoleum which is then inked and run through a printing press. By applying pressure, the image can be transferred from the linoleum to the paper beneath. Many lino prints are made with one colour, but it is possible to create multicoloured prints using different blocks of colour. Caroline Nuttall-Smith has created an exciting series of lino prints depicting different vehicles, conveying a sense of motion with roughly drawn lines.

  • Digital Printing: It's one of the more modern methods of printmaking. It refers to any process that involves the transfer of an image from a digital source directly to a medium such as paper or canvas. This tends to be done with either laser or inkjet printers. Get to know the fantastical world of Kristjana S Williams, a digital printmaker whose works depict exotic worlds of flora and fauna.


Untitled 1 by Bruce McLean


How can you tell a print from a painting?

First of all, take a look at the surface for the artwork. Paintings are much more likely to be produced on canvas, while prints are often made on paper. However, this is not always the case, so it’s good to take a closer look with a magnifying glass and in different light conditions. If you notice any brushstrokes or texture then it’s likely to be a painting. On the other hand, prints tend to have a flatter appearance and will often have a pattern of dots or pixels.


The Silver Child by Delphine Lebourgeois


How do you know if a print is valuable?

It’s a tricky process to figure out the exact value of a print, and many different factors come into play. First of all, take a look at the edition of the print. If it was produced as part of a small edition (less than 200 prints) then it’s likely to be more valuable. Secondly, consider the technique and materials that were used. If there are many colours or it’s a particularly large print, then it’s likely to be more valuable. Next, it’s important to evaluate the condition of the print. If there is any fading, stains or other damage then it will have an impact on the price. Finally, and this can be the hardest part to define, you need to consider the career of the artist who produced it. Prints from better known artists will of course fetch higher prices, and a signature increases this price tag further.


Vogue No.2 by Kareem Rizk

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