Before you start buying prints though, there are one or two things you need to know to avoid mistakes.
There are all sorts of prints: linocuts, woodcuts, etchings, monotypes, mezzotints… the list goes on and on. What are they and what does it all mean? The answer, in brief, is technique. Some are older than others as, naturally, techniques have developed over the years, each helping the artist to create atmosphere, tone, clarity and character. Techniques can also determine how many impressions can be made because the printing plate or matrix will wear down to the point where rendering a clear print is no longer possible. This is important because rarity is a key factor in value. I tend to stick to editions limited to 200 or fewer.
My advice is to stick to signed and numbered limited editions, and to avoid laser prints.
Prints signed AP (Artist’s Proof) are additions to the limited edition, often to check for quality, but tend to be less desirable than numbered impressions.
Prints are not necessarily numbered in the order in which they are printed. It can simply be the order in which the artist picks them up to sign. Nonetheless some people like to collect low numbers, others will focus on strong clear impressions, while others prefer softer impressions with the paper showing through a little.
I’ll be sharing more thoughts about prints next time.