Prints for Wall Art & Value

If you’re looking for high end wall art on a low end decorating budget, consider an art print to fill that empty space on the wall. 

Prints are a speciality, they are not an area in which you should invest money to make a profit unless you have the expertise.  On the other hand, buying purely decorative reproduction prints may be just what your interior decorator ordered, but remember, that print will never have any more value than a decorative piece, in fact, often the frames are worth more than the ‘artwork’.

There’s nothing wrong with that, there are a host of attractive prints to choose from if that’s what you’re looking for.  But if you’re looking for artwork, you need to purchase an original print and you need to know the basics of what drives the value of an original print.


Obviously a well known artist will command higher print prices.   But you need to combine the artist name with the rarity of the print.  It’s the basic concept of supply and demand that works in the economy as well as the art world.  A print that is one of 10,000 editions will not command as high a price as one of only 50 editions.


Damage to prints will deflate the value significantly.  Look for issues such as tears, trimmed margins (the exterior edges cut down to eliminate damage), stains or foxing.  Foxing is a term used for areas of a print turning a brownish color faster than the rest of the print.  A little light foxing is normal, and expected on antique prints, and does not affect the value of the print.   Heavy foxing that is distracting does affect value.


Attractive prints usually command higher prices than unattractive prints.  Certain subjects seem to be more popular, such as children, lovely women, animals and pretty landscapes.


Original prints are made from a matrix, an object on which the design is formed.  Eventually, the design becomes worn after a certain number of prints, or impressions, are made.  The impression should be crisp and clear.

Size and History

Larger prints usually cost more than smaller ones.  Prints that you know the background and origin of are said to have a provenance.  Provenance can increase the value of a print if it has an interesting, provable history.  If you have a print that once hung in a museum, it increases the value.  You need to be able to prove this to have a provenance, something such as a letter from the museum documenting the de-accession of the print.

Until you know prints inside out, buy from a known and respected dealer if you’re interested in value.  Remember that the most important aspect of purchasing any artwork, whether for decoration or purchasing works of art, is to purchase what you like and what works for you and your home.