How to Recognize Art Prints from Reproductions

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Art Prints vs. ReproductionsLooks can be deceiving. No, we are not talking about beauty or books. We are talking about art prints and reproductions. It is hard to tell the difference between the two.

Sometimes in your life, you may have to know these differences. For instance, imagine your neighbor asking you about a painting that impressed her. Or a situation where you have to make a choice between the two for your home.

If you do not know or if you are in doubt to tell the difference, this article can help you. Here, you will learn how to separate diamonds from the dirt. But, before that, let us see what art prints and reproductions really are.

Art prints: Art prints are, literally, carbon copies of an original artwork. These prints are produced using various printmaking techniques. The methods used to be a time consuming and mechanical process. But today, making art prints are easy as making prints of your resume. Printmaking today is digital and fast. Once the printmaker has a digital copy of the art painting, he can produce any number of prints in a matter of minutes.

Reproductions: Reproductions are not exactly carbon copies. They are not digital copies either. But still, they are clones. Handmade clones created by other artists.

For example, a less popular artist might take on the challenge of re-creating the famous ‘Starry Nights’ painting by Van Gogh. Once the artist is done, we have a ‘reproduction’ of the famous ‘Starry Nights’. However, producing a reproduction is challenging. I mean, cloning every brush stroke and achieving the colour correctness of the original artwork is no picnic. And many times, they fail at accurately cloning the original art.

If you ask me ‘which one would you suggest’, the answer will always be copies of original paintings.

But, that is not the question here. The question is, ‘how to identify or differentiate between an art print and a reproduction?

How can you tell the difference?

The good news is, anyone can tell the difference. Maybe not right away, but after a close inspection, anyone certainly can.

Identifying an Art Print

Normally, anyone who sells art would allow you to verify the art’s authenticity. But, what to look for to authenticate the authenticity? Let us take a look.

Check for Layers

As we said, a reproduction is a re-creation of the artwork by another artist. So, different layers of paint are used on the canvas. The thickness of the paint used can also create layers on the canvas. Look for these layers of brush strokes on the canvas. If it is there, you are looking at a reproduction.

However, looking straight at the canvas won’t reveal these layers. You need to remove the protective covering on the canvas and look at it from the back. Hold the canvas in front of you, with your face facing the canvas’ backside. Now, pass a strong light through the canvas. Use a powerful torchlight. When the strong light passes through the reproduction, the layers will unfold in front of you. If no such layers of paint unfold, you are probably looking at an art print.

Check the Edges

Next up, check the edges of the art in your hand. If the edges are clean and straight, it is definitely an art print. It is definitely the work of a machine. If it is a reproduction, the edges won’t be clean. There will be slight splashes or marks of paint on the edges. The artist may try to cover it up with tapes, but a close examination can reveal these marks.

Check for Pixels

If none of the above investigation methods works for you, here is another one. But before that, get a magnifying glass. Explore the piece of art in your hand with this magnifying glass. Look for tiny dot like patterns, or pixels. If you find these pixel dots on the canvas, they are art prints, not reproductions. Printing machines always leave such evidences behind. If you find only fine and smooth brush strokes on the canvas, you are looking at a reproduction.

Google It

One last simple thing you can do is to Google the original painting. Once you find the original painting on the internet, compare it with the piece in your hand. Look very carefully for any differences between the two. If you find any, the one you have in your hand is a reproduction. But, jump into conclusions only after a thorough comparison. No differences between the two means what you have is an art print. To make sure, just look for the copyright symbol by the printing company anywhere on the print.

So, now you know how to tell the difference between a reproduction and art print. Next time when someone sells you an art print, you have the knowledge to make sure you are not paying for a cheap reproduction instead. In some cases, all this investigation can still produce no result. In that case, take it to a professional or a trained artist. They will be able to tell the difference quite easily. So, from now, never be deceived by the looks. Be sure about what you are paying for.

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About Harikrishnan G

Harikrishnan is the Chief Content Writer at He loves to hang out on the internet and make friends on Facebook. You can connect with him on Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn.

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