Original or Limited Edition? that is the question...

Here at Nova Fine Art, we recognise the many choices when searching for artwork and just how daunting it can be. With over a decade of experience, we wanted to share different 'technical' terms associated with different Artwork. Confusing, yet incredibly common question we are asked as galleries; what is the difference between original and limited edition artworks?



To put it simply an original artwork is the first complete work which captures the artist’s idea, always  created and finalised with a signature to boot by the artist themselves, however in some cases printed under their direct control or supervision (this is mainly down to digital medium such as photography). Something worth mentioning, that most galleries won’t always tell you . There could be more than one original if the artist created a series of prints, for example.


Examples of an original include:

  • A handmade print like a silkscreen, linocut, woodcut, etching or lithograph, which would be considered original prints.
  • A painting, drawing, illustration, sculpture or textile.
  • A photograph or edition of photographs taken by the artist, and either printed digitally or developed by hand by the artist.



Limited editions or studio editions are high quality prints of an original artwork, available in a limited and exclusive quantity, with the artist’s permission. They tend to be priced lower than an original, since they are a reproduction, but limited editions are still valuable in that there are only a limited number of them created. The extremely high print quality allows for excellent detail and colour saturation on surfaces like paper or canvas. The artist is almost always involved in the process and signs the editions as they would an original.


Editions printed using inkjet-style printers and pigment based inks are also known as ‘Giclée’, which originally comes from the French word ‘to spray.’ 

You can usually find the edition number on the bottom or back of the artwork, indicating its place within the full set. For example ‘1/25’, or ‘one of twenty five’ is the first printed edition within the set. 


Limited editions are a great way to begin collecting a particular artist, experimenting with new styles, or building your collection. Limited editions also benefit the artist, allowing their work to have further reach.


Key terms to know:

  • Original Artwork: An original artwork is the first complete work which captures the artist’s idea, was created and finished by the artist themselves. There is usually, but not always one original.
  • Reproduction: A reproduction refers to any subsequent copies of an original artwork
  • Edition: An edition is a number of reproductions taken from the same source (printing plate, negative, silkscreen, digital file, etc)
  • Limited Edition: A limited edition is a number of prints created in a fixed quantity. 
  • Open Edition: An open edition is a number of prints that is not limited to a specific quantity.
  • Series: Not to be confused with an edition, artworks in a series are all visually unique from one another, typically following a specific visual or conceptual theme.


Our advice?

Buy what you love, don’t be told what to buy. Galleries don’t have to look at the painting once you have taken it, so ask yourself; would you miss it should the piece sell to someone else and you couldn’t have it? if you love it, then why not have it!


Start your journey  HERE



18 May 2022
of 13