The 7 most important things to look for when buying art prints. - Harriet Lawless Artist

The 7 most important things to look for when buying art prints.


If you're looking to buy art prints for your home it can be intimidating and confusing. There's so much industry jargon out there!

In this post I've broken down each element to consider, explained some terms you'll come across while shopping and made my suggestions.


Look out for the word "giclée" in the listing for the print. Giclée is an inkjet printing technique using pigment based inks. They produce fade-proof, high resolution, highly pigmented reproduction prints. You’ll get all the colour and tone variations, details and visual texture of the original painting and your print will last you forever! 

Paper quality

Look for what the paper is made from, which will affect its thickness and durability. Look for the word "rag" which means it is 100% cotton, which is thick and premium; or look for "cellulose", which means it is made from 100% high grade wood pulp and is durable and sturdy.

Paper weight

Look for weight, shown in "gsm", meaning grams per square meter. The higher the number, the heavier, and likely thicker and sturdier the paper is. For reference, office printing paper has a gsm of 80, while business cards will be 350gsm. Look for a gsm over 200 minimum for art prints.

Paper finish

Art prints can be offered in matte, satin or glossy finishes. For art prints, look for a matte finish, which will give you the closest feel of an original painting, while accurately reproducing its colours and tones without any glare. 

Paper texture

A smooth texture will show up detail most accurately, while a more textured finish will give depth and emulate the textured canvas from the original painting. Both are good options and down to personal taste, but look out for these words in the print description so you know what you're buying!

Paper colour

All paper used for prints is white, but this can be a bright, crisp, cool, modern white or a warm, cream, natural white. Again, this is personal preference but look out for this in the description. Consider what would suit your home decor best.

If you love the artwork!

And finally, if you love the artwork and the print is going to make your home feel beautiful then go for it! The artist you buy it from will be thrilled!


The list I've put together is long, so here's my cheat-sheet summary:

Look for a giclée print of a painting that you love on warm, matte and textured, high gsm paper made from either cotton rag or cellulose. Happy shopping!

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Read more of my thoughts on art prints here: 4 reasons to buy art prints instead of original paintings


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