Everything you need to know in regards to buying graphic work

This post is also available in: Spanish

Who can buy graphic work in Spain? Have you ever thought about acquiring graphic work or, on the contrary, do you think that this type of collecting is elitist and only for people with knowledge and money? Nothing is further from the truth.

In Spain there are good collectors who research effectively when it comes to buying graphic work. They seek to connect with the artist and, in many cases, they know them personally. But there are not many, however this is a pressing issue in the Spanish art market.

This article will try to solve the most frequent doubts that can arise when buying graphic work, especially by those who have an interest in art but lack experience in this field. First of all you must know that during the 3rd International Congress of Artists, which was held in Vienna in the 1960’s, the criteria that the original graphic work had to fulfil were established. They are as follows:

  • The artist must intervene directly in the creation of the work through the preparation of the stone or the plate used to transfer the image.
  • All copies that make up the edition must be signed and numbered so that the exact number of the unit and the total number of units are indicated.
  • The artist reviews each copy to determine the final number of prints and discards any possible defectives.
  • Limited Edition. Once the edition is finished, the plates must be marked or destroyed to prevent the creation of more copies.

What is most important when it comes to buying graphic work for the first time?

The first piece of advice is to buy graphic work that you like for its aesthetic value and personal taste. After all, art is enjoyed and therefore has to enliven you.

In addition, you do not have to spend a lot of money when buying graphic work. With a budget between 200 and 3,000 euros you can buy graphic work from devoted artists or young people with a vision. The most affordable works are those that belong to limited editions.

Other characteristics that influence the price are the nationality and age of the artist or the university where he obtained his title. This happens as with any other profession. To study at a university with little or no reputation in this industry is not the same as having studied at a university such as Colombia or New York (for example) because they are known for having produced more reputable artists.

The city, where the buyer lives, and the amount of other collectors are also very important. The collector is mostly local and tries to support the art from his country so that artists who reside in territories with more buyers have more possibilities to sell.

How to buy graphic work?

 There are several types of markets: galleries and fairs, auctions and the online market. Fairs are becoming more prominent platforms for the purchase and sale of art, but the most important locations are in galleries, which promote and help define the career of an artist.

At some auctions, buyers are occasionally required to register to attend, however most of them are open to the public and anyone can attend and bid on graphic work.

The process is as follows: you locate something that interests you, you talk to the gallery and they give you the documentation: a certificate of authenticity, catalogues or texts about the artist and the invoice. Once all this has been organised, the payment is formalized and the gallery arranges the framing (if necessary) and the delivery of the work to the buyer’s address.

What criteria are there when evaluating a piece of work?

The quality of a piece is the aspect that should take precedence when buying graphic work and its evaluation depends on many factors. We could say that one must assess the professional career of the artist, that is, if they have exhibited in museums, in which fairs they have been present or the prestige of the gallery that represents them.

You also have to look at the artist’s CV: how their prices have evolved, if the piece is catalogued and certified. The curriculum of an artist has different parts: exhibitions, individual or collective; work in important collections; scholarships, prizes, etc.

 In the case of original graphic work, each copy of the edition must be signed by the artist by hand. It is very common to find engravings or lithographs whose description indicates “signed on the plate”. This means that the artist signed the plate or stone and therefore the signature was stamped, along with the transferred image, on each of the copies of the print run. But in these cases the usual thing is for the artist not to sign each of the copies made.

 This article has already mentioned that as well as being signed, the original graphic work must be numbered. The artist must indicate the number that corresponds to each copy of the edition and the total number of copies made. For example, in the case of an edition of 150 copies, it will be numbered from 1/150 to 150/150.

Having said all this, if you are a person who is interested in buying graphic work, you must be very aware of the wide range of techniques that constitute this discipline of art. You have to keep in mind that techniques are constantly being modernized and artists take advantage of them to produce their art. There are no barriers in the use of these and their combination with each other.

We trust that this has served to clarify the main doubts that can arise when it comes to buying graphic work. We could continue talking about graphic work and clear more doubts regarding the types of paper used or the way artists utilise their workshops, however these topics will be covered in future articles.

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