The print market is soaring. And that's not just because universal lockdown has prompted a boom in online buying - though the clarity, precision and the two-dimensional qualities of prints certainly make them easy to display and to admire on a screen.
But Covid aside, the print market was already proving its worth long before the new normal kicked in. In 2019, Christie's prints and multiples brought in some $44 million. A big jump from the previous year's $26.4 million. And they're not the only auction house to have seen a steady, in fact whopping, increase in the overall sum accumulated via prints online - Philips saw a 55% increase in their online print sales in 2019, with the department having sold an impressive $10.5 million's worth of works virtually.
Prints, of course, come in editions. And that makes them more affordable - one of their great appeals, opening up the market to novice collectors and those dipping their toe into the art world. And with prices being displayed alongside many works online, younger and first-time buyers are able to analyse their potential investment and take stock without feeling embarrassed about having to ask the price. As a further plus, the internet lets a buyer compare prices with more ease, as well as research a print's condition reports in comparison to other works from the same print run that are in circulation.
Though rootling around doing your research can be both fulfilling and addictive, we nonetheless suggest speaking to an advisor who can help you find the right print for you - be it a Banksy, a Basquiat or a Haring, all undoubted heavyweights in the contemporary art world, whose popularity shows no sign of dwindling.
Certainly, many of Banksy's prints have doubled their estimates at auction this year, or even tripled it - his Happy Choppers print fetched $38,697 in a Phillips Hong Kong online auction this May, against an estimate of $9,029 - $11,609. Haring too has done well: his 1987 silkscreen print Pop Shop 1 sold online via Christie's in June for $16,129, a significant increase on its estimate of $7,096 - $10,968. It's also true that the smaller the print run, the higher the price. The same goes for exclusivity. Take The Connor Brothers - the subversive pair have created a substantial range of prints solely for Maddox Galleries, who are running a virtual exhibition of their work this summer.
And prints can fetch big money. At this year's International Fine Prints Dealers Association Online Fair, a version of Durer's 1515 The Rhinoceros sold for over six figures - something the piece has only achieved four times before, despite twenty impressions of the work having featured at auction over the last thirty years. So, with that validation of the online market, it's time to get clicking! Who knows what a Harland Miller print might bring in in years to come? But the ever-growing appreciation of both prints and the online market suggests investors are in for a nice, and bountiful, surprise.