I’ve been collecting fine art for 30 years. I buy mostly signed limited editions consisting of lithographs, prints, serigraphs, etchings, and giclees. These are art terms for reproductions, usually created from original paintings by the artist. He or she, in turn, supervises the print-making process and then signs and numbers the prints. These results become what is known as original reproductions. Because an original Picasso or Chagall can fetch a million dollars, this method is the most common way an average person can afford their work.
For example, very few can buy a Rembrandt painting and his etchings are now long gone because the plates from the 1600’s that made them were never designed to last long. So Durand, a master etcher in the mid-1800’s recreated his own plates from the originals and therefore we have Rembrandts after Durand. Those type of prints are relatively affordable and can be purchased by the masses. But the modern artists of today recognize the power of lithography and make 1000’s of copies available to the general public. That’s where you and I benefit. We can gather a collection of plate-signed Picassos for very little. Add in various posters and you have a plethora of opportunities. Frame them up and you can form a “Gallery Chez Vous” in your own home.
If, however, you want to invest in more collectible pieces, you’ll need to fork over a tidy sum to purchase the “hand-signed” versions. Because of the value of the autographs alone, the signed artwork will be priced accordingly. The more rare or “hot” the artist, the higher the premium for the signed edition. Also, the smaller the number of printed pieces, the greater the value. But check eBay and the other Internet sites for the best prices. It’s a very competitive place online and you can pick up some amazing deals. Pay the least you can for what’s available or offer a low bid when possible. Buy what you like and what looks good, rather than something more valuable that you hate.
Another tip. Lithographs are the least expensive type of print but modern printing processes have made them almost indistinguishable from other types of high-priced prints. So bypass the aquatints and etchings and shoot for the “lithos.” Also try to buy pre-framed pieces to save even more money. Framing can be expensive. Finally, don’t be afraid to buy the lesser-known artists if the art is appealing. Unless you are totally into investment grade, art is art. There are many Picassos I can’t stand but I love the Disney cartoon cels. Buy what you like and decorate the walls of your house with the beauty of art for an amount you can afford. It will bring you great pleasure and joy over the years. And if you decide to change houses, it all goes with you. That’s right, it can even be a moving experience.