Copies and originals: which one to look out for?

Copies and originals: which one to look out for?

 Short answer – both. 

Left: The Virgin of the Rocks (c.1483 – c.1485). Right: The Virgin of the Rocks (c.1491/92-99 – 1506-08)



Copies and originals: which one to look out for?

Originals and copies have been going on their skirmish for millennia. Today, we discern between originals, reproductions, copies, and fakes, with the notion that the latter sort is of worse quality than the former. Like when you purchase branded shoes, expecting them to be original, and two months into wearing them, you already notice the ugly creases and signs of wear. Congrats! You’ve been duped. However, in works of art (books, photographs, letters, or paintings), the problem of originals and copies becomes as conceptual as it is pragmatic and involves some mental gymnastics, which we have done for you in this article.


Production quality

Let’s begin with a no-brainer. An original has sealed the artist’s brushwork, and the passage of time gives the outer layer that special tint that no replication process can duplicate. A reprint of the work, even a giclee one, can come close to recreating the colour vibrancy of the work, but it could never copy the texture and muted nuances an original carries.


Personal touch

Anyone who has approached the brush knows the ludicrous amount of coordination needed to transfer an object of reality or imagination onto a canvas. Each decision involves deep focus to render one’s vision true. One slip, and you’re down a rabbit hole of painstaking retouching. And even prints sometimes get the same treatment. Nasimo’s limited series, The Supper: Hand-Touched, is a slim collection of hand-tuned prints, each with a unique take that takes just as much precision.


A limited run

It’s not uncommon for artists to paint several iterations of the same project. Perhaps prompted by fussy clients, Leonardo went on to paint a second version of The Virgin of the Rocks to hopefully meet their expectations. Nevertheless, the majority of paintings come solo, so the scarcity of the piece truly hacks its value on the art market. The same goes for prints, too, as those sold on Fine Graff Art are of a limited number and are not put up for reprint once out of stock.



Here’s what we fail to understand when buying prints: they are good at reproducing the odious endeavour of painting the perfect original, but they don’t carry the same emotional, temporal, and physical investment that an original has. When opting for an original that looks and feels completed, you’re choosing the sum of numerous correct decisions that have brought the work to its current state. In print, however, the value is altered by other factors, such as the quality of the print. In our print shop, we use the finest, large-format Giclee inkjet printing that captures all the canvas’ pores and is, without doubt, the current industry standard.



You may be looking to buy art to stash your money somewhere and enjoy a good piece for a while. Both originals and prints can serve that purpose perfectly, but you should first consider several key points:

  • Budget
  • Storage
  • Scarcity

Art is not as liquid as some fast investments like stocks or real estate. It takes time for art to age well and receive its due value bump. Therefore, planning a budget for prints and originals is vital for up-and-coming investors. Prints are usually the go-to, budget-friendly option for a fresh portfolio, as they retain value just like originals and are easy to store. And on that note, you must 100% verify the print is authentic, is of a limited run, and could be kept away from harm’s reach (in art’s case, the sun). Fine Graff Art takes these precautions for you: every print comes with a certificate of authenticity, sealed inside a transportation tube.


So, dear reader, it all boils down to experience: whether you are just starting out or a seasoned art dealer. Whoever you happen to be, a print won’t hurt your budget and will definitely inspire more great art in the future. You are officially invited to check out Fine Graff Art’s print shop and make the first mark on your art portfolio.

Organically generated text by Simeon Cherepov