British artist Damien Hirst started printmaking after a decade of fame, fortune and controversy with his painting and sculpture. Today, his prints of butterflies, skulls, dots and other iconic subjects can sell for six-figure sums at auction. Here is a quick intro.

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Meatballs by Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst’s Meatballs (The Last Supper)

What is the history of Damien Hirst’s prints?

Damien Hirst began printmaking at a pivotal point in his early career, producing The Last Supper – his first limited-edition print series – in 1999, four years after winning the Turner Prize. The Last Supper series has been compared to Pop Art and Dadaist works through their elevation of mundane, everyday objects (in this case medicine packaging) into art.

The Last Supper was published by Paragon Press, who produced limited-edition prints with Hirst until 2018. In 2005, Hirst founded Other Criteria, a publishing company that would go on to produce limited editions and multiples for both Hirst and other artists. Other Criteria opened two stores in Central London selling clothing, jewellery, photographs, posters, books and limited-edition prints. More recently, Hirst has collaboratively published prints with galleries such as Paul Stolper Gallery.

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How do Damien Hirst’s prints relate to his other artworks?

Many of Hirst’s prints are inspired by themes found in his paintings and sculpture, including life, death, art, consumerism and religion. Numerous Hirst prints also depict the same references – such as skulls, spots, butterflies and pills – although the designs are different. For example, in 2007 Hirst created both his platinum and diamond-encrusted skull, For the Love of God, and the limited-edition signed print For the Love of God.

There are also instances where Hirst uses both painting and print techniques in the same work. His 2002 print portfolios In A Spin presents 23 individual prints in a box that has an original Spin painting on it. The artist’s name and the artwork title printed over this.

For The Love Of God (black) by Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst’s For The Love Of God

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What types of Damien Hirst prints are for sale?

From woodcut spot prints and butterfly etchings, to screen-printed editions of the diamond skull and foil-blocked butterflies, skulls and pills – Hirst’s prints come in a range of mediums, dimensions and edition sizes. Hirst has also produced laminated giclée prints on aluminium panels, seen in the early work With Dead Head, and more recently the 2020 Butterfly Rainbow, and Butterfly Heart prints. Often prints are glazed or embellished with ‘diamond dust’, sometimes over the whole surface of the artwork or in certain areas in order to add impact.

The dimensions of Hirst’s prints also vary. Most are smaller than 1m x 1m. An exception to this is his 2005 editioned wallpaper panels, New Religion, where each edition is composed of six 2m x 2m panels.

Edition sizes typically span from around 50 to 150, with additional artist’s proofs. There are, of course, exceptions: between 2009-15, Hirst published prints with Paul Stolper in much-smaller editions of 14 or 15. Most recently the Butterfly Rainbow and Butterfly Heart prints created to raise money for the NHS were made in editions of up to 4,150.

Throughout his career, Hirst has produced both stand-alone editions and portfolio sets. Many of these portfolios have since been split and sold as individual prints – The Last Supper being a good example. In 2014, Hirst produced a print series titled The Cure, which was released as 30 individual prints as well as a complete boxed set.

Mickey & Minnie (large) by Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst’s Mickey & Minnie (large)

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What are Damien Hirst’s highest prices for prints?

The most sought-after Hirst prints tend to be the most iconic: spot and spin paintings and butterfly stained glass window prints are all popular with buyers. His Mickey Mouse prints also demand high prices, as well as the For the Love of God prints, produced around the same time as his famous diamond-adorned skull. Prices can range from £1,500 for a single print to ten times that amount for a rare or highly coveted portfolio or series. In 2018, Sotheby’s sold a set of eight Cathedral butterfly prints for £150,000.

The value of Hirst’s prints can be affected by a number of factors, including the artist being in the news. A high-profile exhibition or show featuring his prints may be enough to influence the market.

Tetrahydrocannabinol by Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst’s Tetrahydrocannabinol

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Where can I find a Damien Hirst for sale?

Prints by Hirst are easy to find on the secondary market, but whether you choose to use an auction house, an online platform or a broker like MyArtBroker, it is essential that you purchase your Hirst print from a reputable source.

Find out more about how to assess authenticity, provenance, value and more in our Buyer’s Guide and Seller’s Guide to Damien Hirst.

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