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What are limited edition prints?

  • 10th June 2018

Here at The Artists Print Room, we often get asked, what are limited edition prints? What are the ‘rules’? Here we hope to answer some questions surrounding this.

Limited Edition Prints

So, to begin with, a limited edition print is a set of prints of the same image which will only be produced to a maximum number eg. 100.

The ‘rules’

The Fine Art Trade Guild provides a lot a excellent guidance on how limited edition printing should work. Firstly, it is recommended that a limited edition print run is kept to below 850 prints worldwide, however, you can have as few prints as you like. This also includes any artist’ proofs. But it is worth considering that the lower the edition run, the ‘rarer’ your prints will be – potentially this can be good for resale, however, the more prints produced, the higher the potential income initially. This is really for the artist to decide upon as it depends on your objectives and purpose. We can of course, help advise and give guidance if required.

The Fine Art Trade Guild also states that, ‘a limited edition print is based on an agreement between the licensor, usually the artist or artist’s estate, as a holder of the copyright, and the licensee, usually the publisher.’ The licensor should agree that no previous reproductions have been made and will not be produced again for publication. The publisher will also agree to not exceed the agreed print run which has previously been specified.

Additionally, to comply as a limited edition print run, the image should not be produced in any other format, anywhere in the world. This includes on other items such as mugs for example or as a different sized print. However, there is an exception in that it can be printed for promotional purposes in items such as brochures or books.

All print edition details should be included in the certificate of authenticity which is provided with the print included which print number the specific print is and out of how many.

Open Edition Prints

Alternatively, you can produce open edition prints. Basically, this means you can print as many as you like in whichever formats you like! Again, this is your personal choice and agreements need to be put in place. However, it is worth considering the sales value and resale potential with open editions. With limited edition prints there tends to be value added due to the uniqueness. Open edition prints are much better suited to mass production and high turnovers.