Ah, posters, prints, and paintings – the “big three” of art if you will.

Knowing the difference between these three visual forms is your key to understanding the mixed-up world that is art.

What makes a limited edition print more valuable, than say, that poster of dogs playing poker you had in college (they’re both flat and on paper, after all)? And how do limited edition prints compare to an original piece? Read on for the straight forward facts, and also to become something of a first-degree art connoisseur.

Here’s what you need to know about Open Edition Prints vs. Limited Edition Prints vs. Originals…


Open Edition Prints

The best way to can think about Open Edition Prints are to think of them as posters. Because, well, that’s what they are. Open edition refers to their mass production, and therefore, lack of value and rarity. The posters at school fairs, the over-priced images at your big-box interior design stores, the New York City skyline you’ve seen no less than 684 times…All. Open. Editions. Open edition prints are only as valuable as what you pay for it + the enjoyment you get from looking at it. At the end of the day, if your eyes are okay with open edition, that’s fine by us.

Limited Edition Prints

These guys are sometimes misunderstood and confused for their mass-produced younger cousin. Limited Edition Prints are generally high-quality prints that have been created with love and care (or maybe anger and passion depending on the artist) by an artist or a printmaker with whom they’ve chosen to work.

Limited Edition Prints garner their value (and their name) from the fact that their production is, you guessed it, limited. They are often printed in editions between 5 – 5000, but this number can really be whatever the artist determines. Often times the artist’s presence is carried forward through signing and numbering an individual print. For example, owning a print signed ‘van Gogh 1/100,’ would mean you have the first print from a “run” of 100 prints…and that you’re very lucky and should lock that thing in a vault. These types of prints are inherently rare and may appreciate in value over time.

Limited Edition Prints often come in the form of:

Lithographs, Woodcuts, Wood Block Prints, Screenprints, Etchings, Engravings, Woodcuts, and Giclée (fancy word for ink jet) prints.

Explore Limited Edition Prints >>


Original works of art are pretty straightforward. They are one-of-a-kind creations made by an artist. Individual oil paintings, mixed media sculptures, watercolors, etc, undergo a unique set of brushstrokes, ink splatters, molding, and mental dilemmas (kidding, sort of) that beautifully manifest in the form of one work of art. That’s the beauty of an original – neither the exact process, nor the end result allows for easy reproduction.  Original works are signed by hand, usually in the corner, and often come are accompanied by a certificate of authenticity, ensuring the genuine nature of its production.

Explore Original Art >>


Wait, wait, I know what you’re thinking…

“But I’ve seen a painting and a print that look EXACTLY the same!”

Yep – you probably have. In many cases, artists will make a limited edition giclée print from a very popular piece that they may want to offer to a wider audience, or from which they’d like to continue to make money. Most times, it’s a win-win for artists and collectors.

Boom. Consider yourself informed. If you’re still a little confused or have questions, feel free let us know. If you’d like to dispute everything I’ve just said…that’s okay too, because there are a lot of exceptions in the world of art and prints. Either way, feel free to chat. We’re @VangoArt on most of the interwebs.