Your don’t have to a BFA like me to be a print collector. Instead, concentrate on what you like. Art need not be intimidating, especially if you make purchases based on what will look good over the living room sofa or matching the bedspread. But if you must have a Rembrandt etching or Calder print for investment purposes, head for the library or Internet and do your homework. Also understand the amount of fakes in the marketplace and be prepared to make a sizeable payment for the better pieces. Begin with the smaller lower-cost prints and stick with numbered, signed, and documented work. There are dozens of articles available on the Internet regarding the “provenance” and other essential materials needed when making your purchase.
What is a print, you may ask? Rather than pay for an original, one of a kind oil or acrylic painting costing thousands, you buy a reproduction that is often designed for the mass market. They can be lithographs, serigraphs, etchings, silk-screens, mixed-media and other print-making techniques used to create multiple pieces. Each is then numbered and signed by the artist. They provide a letter of authenticity guarantying the process and the outcome. These “editions” can be small, of fifty or so, or large including many thousands. But, for a collector, the number is meaningless. For some artists that have passed away, even a large edition, because of the limited amount of remaining pieces and the fame of the artist, their art can still fetch huge amounts at auction.
Auctions can be a good place to start in your pursuit of artwork. If you’re a cruiser, almost every large ship has an “at sea” auction opportunity to buy a less expensive piece for a few hundred dollars or so. Don’t forget these are unframed prices, so be prepared to spend another hundred for that expense. There are many online auctions, but you are relying on a picture for the only look at your art and the colors may not be accurate when the print arrives by mail. Try visiting a local gallery first and get familiar with certain artists you like.
When it comes to artists, you have two choices:
(a) the famous, international current or past ones such as; Dali, Neiman, Miro, Calder, Rembrandt, Erte, and many others. These are easily researched and many of their works are documented and catalogued. They are more expensive and easily resold.
(b) local, lesser known or upcoming artists you may never have heard of, but whose work you like and you don’t really care much about resell value. It’s strictly your decision whether your collection will be of those whose value increases or one simply containing pieces for decorator appeal.
Either way, try to see the artwork in person go gain a true feel for the actual color and texture. Then you can go to eBay or other art auction sites for the final bidding. You can also scan the newspaper classified or the various art magazines available at the local bookstore. Once you buy an unframed item, consult your local frame shop for the best way to preserve and protect your investment, There are special acid-free mats and other secrets to insuring the art’s integrity for the future.
I found that collecting prints is a more rewarding way of buying an investment that you can view at will and still enjoy appreciation of value. It sure beats plastering your wall with stock certificates. But decide if you are buying for investment or the joy of seeing fine are in your home. Only buy what you like and spend the required money on good framing. First, educate yourself and then book a cruise. You’ll have a great vacation and have the chance to buy some nice pieces at auction. Bon voyage!