A Seller’s Guide to Prints & Editions: How to Sell Art Online

For the Love of God, Laugh by Damien HirstFor the Love of God, Laugh © Damien Hirst 2007
Louis Denizet

Louis Denizet, Specialist[email protected]

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Looking to sell your print? It’s now easier than ever to sell art online, but fees are confusing and the market tricky to navigate. Here’s the ultimate guide to selling prints and editions to make sure you sell at the right time and achieve the right price.

How much is my print worth?

One of the first thoughts that springs to mind when considering selling your print is likely to be the question: how much is it worth?

The answer? It depends.

When selling any work of art, it is best to first find the right platform or intermediary for your sale.

The main options are an auction house, an online platform, or private brokerage, like MyArtBroker and it is from this point that you can seek valuation by a specialist.

When is the best time to sell?

When selling a print, timing is key; but how do you know when the moment is right? The best time to sell your print is when there is a rise in the artist’s popularity and demand, such as when a critically acclaimed exhibition is being held or a major work makes a splash at auction. For example, when artists are in the news, this can have a huge effect on the price of their works. Banksy’s 2018 Love Is In The Bin auction stunt at Sotheby’s, which subsequently achieved an all time-record at auction in 2021, supercharged demand for the artist’s prints. Stormzy’s 2019 Glastonbury performance — during which he wore a Banksy-designed Union Jack stab vest — and the charity sale of Game Changer in March 2021 had a similar effect, with prices for Banksy prints skyrocketing overnight.

Sellers should also bear in mind that if a similar piece is on the secondary market you don’t want to have to compete against it, a move which would only serve to affect both prices negatively. As such, when deciding on a good time to sell, it is important to take a closer look at the market.

Thankfully, in addition to releasing regular print market reports (read the latest here: Modern British Prints Market Report 2023), MyArtBroker has two valuable tools, which offer a clear insight into an artist or print’s market at any given time: the Trading Floor and MyPortfolio.

MyArtBroker's Trading Floor provides real-time access to our private network of over 30,000 collectors and investors, by showcasing the supply and demand of blue chip prints on their website. Unlike relying solely on historical auction sales data, the Trading Floor allows you to see what is happening in the specialist market at any given moment, displaying the number of artworks "FOR SALE," "IN NETWORK," or "WANTED", live, at any given time.

Meanwhile, MyPortfolio is a free portfolio management system, designed specifically for the prints and multiples market. Our dedicated print market index, provides unique insights into art market trends in recent and current times, helping you to identify opportunities in the art market. You can choose when to sell, with the security of mind provided by specialist and precise value data.

What does the edition size mean?

An ‘edition’ describes prints made using a single printing plate, often in one sitting. Edition size refers to the number of individual impressions of a single design issued at the same time.

A ‘limited edition’ refers to an edition of prints whose number is fixed; an ‘open edition’ is an edition with no limit on the number of individual prints created.

The size of an edition has a direct impact on prices. Smaller editions mean there are fewer prints made; each print is therefore more valuable and more expensive.

Which works are most in demand?

Works by so-called ‘blue-chip’ artists, such as Stik, KAWS, Banksy, Damien Hirst, David Hockney, Bridget Riley, Invader, and Julian Opie are some of the most sought-after in today’s art market.

Some artists’ bodies of work are also in higher demand than others.

The most sought-after Banksy editions, for example, are often those with direct links to his in situ graffiti pieces, painted in as diverse locations as London, Los Angeles, and the West Bank. Girl With Balloon, voted the UK’s favourite artwork in 2017, is one of the artist’s most iconic and sought-after works. It was released in 2004 in a signed edition of 150, and an unsigned edition of 600. In that year, a signed version of the print cost £150; they can now fetch upwards of £475,000 each, with the auction record sitting at £1.1 million.

MyArtBroker's Trading Floor is an easy way to access real-time information about what’s in demand in our private network, which consists of over 30,000 collectors and investors.

How can I prove my print is authentic?

Sellers should be concerned with the authenticity and provenance of any artwork they are trying to sell: selling a fake could land you in trouble.

If you have bought the artwork you wish to sell recently, be sure to keep any paperwork that may have accompanied its purchase. Without the necessary authentication documents, a work’s selling price will decrease dramatically. Most auction houses, dealers, and galleries are not likely to accept it for sale.

Third party involvement is always important when authenticating a work. Many high-profile artists have dedicated authentication bodies who are able to establish whether your print is genuine. If you recently bought your Banksy print, for example, it should come with a Certificate of Authenticity (CoA) from Pest Control, the handling service who has acted on behalf of the artist since 2009. There is no other organisation representing Banksy in any legitimate capacity, so if you need your Banksy print authenticated, Pest Control should be your first – and only – port-of-call.

If you bought your Banksy before 2009, from the now defunct Pictures on Walls (POW), you can contact Pest Control to confirm your work is genuine. This can take any time from two weeks up to two years.

If you need a specialist to authenticate your print, contact us and we can manage this process on your behalf.

How can I ensure my print is in good condition to sell?

The condition of any print will directly affect its value.

Many early Banksy prints, produced by former print house Pictures on Walls, are more likely to be contorted due to changes in light and humidity and where they have not been expertly cared for or stored correctly.

Minor damage can be remedied by conservation specialists. We work with several trusted specialists who perform restoration and will cover the costs of all restoration as part of the sale process.

Should I sell via auction or private sale?

If you decide to sell your work via an auction house, they will appraise your print free of charge and help to set a reserve price – this means that if the work fails to meet a given price, you are not required to sell it, even to the highest bidder.

However, selling prints via an auction house can also be a lengthy and expensive option. You are likely to have to wait several months (2-3) until a sale date. As a seller you will be liable to multiple fees and premiums. These charges can include storage, marketing, transport, cataloguing, overhead premiums, performance fees and photography, plus a typical seller’s commission of 15%.

Unlike auction houses and other online platforms, private brokerages like MyArtBroker can guide you through each of the important considerations to be made when selling a print, and grant access to a wide network of established collectors who may be interested in your artwork. Our approach bears strong results: our brokers might find you a buyer to pay for and collect the artwork within as little as 48hrs. The best thing? Our seller’s fees are always 0%.

For further details on the pros and cons of selling a Banksy print at auction, see our bespoke guide on the subject.

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