News & Views

Is it original?

Oct 12, 2020

What to look out for before you buy.

You found a piece of art you love – and there is no better reason to own one than love. It moves you, it lifts your soul and your happy hormones are having a party, just looking at it.

Now for the matter of mind. It’s not always clear what type of artwork is presented – is it original painting, print or is it a poster?

Here are some of the most common types of 2D artwork sold and terminology that goes with it.


Original painting – refers to one of a kind, unique piece of art – painting created, signed and certified by the artist. They hold most value (financial and emotional) and in some cases appreciate with time.

Original copy in an edition – refers to multiple copies of a painting, produced – painted (not printed) by the same artist. Essentially, it’s the same image painted multiple times. These are still originals, but the artist needs to declare the item number and how many copies are there are in an edition. It’s usually displayed as a fraction 5/25 on the painting. Anything that isn’t numbered should be a one of a kind original piece of artwork. If there are multiple copies that exist of a particular painting and they aren’t identified with an edition number, it is classified as wall art and not considered original.


There are two types of prints what is referred to as original hand pulled prints and limited edition artist approved prints.

We’ll cover here the latter – limited edition prints. They are created from original works of art – paintings. These are also signed and numbered by the original artist giving permission for these prints to be made. In this category you have limited edition prints and canvas prints.

If artworks are copied and not signed or numbered then it is considered a poster, wall art, or décor art and not original. It can also be assumed to have been copied without permission of the artist is therefore an open edition copy and has no value. Open editions are the same as posters; they are reproductions or copies only without any value. Any prints outside an edition are also posters or décor art.

Fine art versus digital prints

Simply put, it boils down to longevity.

Fine art, also known as giclee prints refer to printing process using inkjet printers on archival, high quality paper. Giclee prints are far superior to all other forms of printing. When done correctly, it’s the closest an artist can get to matching their original 2-D artwork. Perhaps even more importantly, fine art prints (unlike digital prints) will last. If kept out of the sunlight they remain true for decades, not weeks as the case would be with digital prints.

I hope this offers a bit of clarity before make your next art purchase.