As a print curator, I am often asked “what’s the difference between a print and a poster?” “A lot!,” I proclaim and launch into a diatribe on the distinctions. For the purposes of this blog (designed to be brief), I will refrain from explanation of the numerous print media—such as woodcut, etching, lithography—all of which have centuries-long histories and traditions of their own, and comment only on the basic differences. Posters are, generally speaking, reproductions of other works of art (such as a painting) and often intended as a form of advertisement or as decoration. For this reason, posters are often printed in the thousands using off-set presses or digital means. Prints, however, are original works of art in that they are conceived of and realized as prints by the artist, often with the assistance of a master printer. The making of a fine art print is a time-consuming and collaborative process that results in original works of art (not reproductions) that are limited in number. (Edition sizes can vary but usually range from 25-100.)
Because fine art prints run in editions, they are less expensive than paintings or drawings by an artist, making them a great way to start an art collection. And you may be surprised to learn that an original art print may often cost the same or less than a framed poster purchased in a museum shop or at art.com! As a means to encourage the collecting of prints, and to provide a learning experience about how prints are made and why artists make them, the Prints and Drawings Council of LACMA and LACMA Muse have organized LA Print: Edition 1, which debuts this Saturday. LA Print highlights printmaking in LA, featuring local print shops and artists that have made the city one of the most vital printmaking centers in the world. There will be print demonstrations and an impressive lineup of artists discussing their prints and appreciation of the print medium. (Not to mention an After Party!)
Don’t miss this great opportunity to learn about the LA printmaking scene and maybe even start an art collection!
Leslie Jones, associate curator, Prints and Drawings