Guideline article for your use.
m a mass-produced or printed artwork – by Gill Knox
Original artwork facts;
If you look at the darkest area with a magnifier:
- there will be a non-uniform pattern, either completely covered or at least looking like brush strokes This applies to all mediums including pencil, pen, any paint. If there is a pattern it will be a canvas looking pattern, not little round dots.
- If it is air brushed art, even these will be irregular on close up.
- The artwork will be signed, usually in the same medium(paint, or pen if it is watercolours) And nearly always in a colour within the painting
- If on a wrapped canvas, there will be no sudden, sharp edge line where the painting stops, even if the artist has done this edge on purpose with tape, there will be an uneven ridge where the paint line has varying thickness.
- Anything that says it is pastel, will be framed, so will pencil, coloured pencil watercolor etc. the only exception will be where these have been sprayed with a varnish, making it no longer the pure medium stated. ASK for details.
- There will be a rough/uneven texture on the work; the paper texture will show through in watercolor OR in the case of pencil/colored pencil/marker, some difference in reflection/shine/impressing into the paper.
- If someone states it is oil, and charges accordingly, you need to be able to tell if it is acrylic instead. You could try smelling it, you should be able to detect the difference between oil and acrylic, oil would still leave an odor, and acrylic does not. If in doubt, check with your local framer for advice.
- You may think the image is familiar but different, it may have been reversed! A common trick when using a reference illegally without permission. Common with rare animals for example. Perhaps even landscapes and buildings too.
Points to watch for:
a) It is possible to paint a CLEAR gel medium over a print, even brushstrokes will show, I have seen this, in all cases it was an obvious print on a wrapped canvas, with a well-known painting reproduced, and there was an abrupt line halfway on the canvas edge where the print stopped, all around the painting. I would think you could still do the magnifying test on these if not sure, but usually the prints done as these are well known Master paintings.
b) Price: if it is a print, the charge may be much lower than you think it should be - too good to be true usually is!
c) If the painting is air brushed (still requiring some skill), produced over more than one canvas, and then sold very cheaply, you can bet it is done super quickly, and perhaps even in assembly-line fashion. The image may be very striking, but there will be as little paint as possible used, and so possibly minimal layering of paint. A skilled airbrush artist, will take more time, add time consuming detailing, and smaller areas or color. Watch again for illegible signatures and fake names, or even no artist name evident.
d) There may be many more than one painting, all nearly identical, in that case it is mass produced. The only caution to this is that artists can use a reference of their own and do different sections of it to make multiple paintings. There will still be many differences though, and usually different compositions, or at least different colour mixes.
e) An artist these days usually has a presence on the web, if you cannot find the name, it may be a fake name.
f) Search a painting on the web using image search, if you come up with many different versions of the same image, even under different names, it will be illegally copied or mass produced.
g) Artists who do produce their own prints, will sign them additionally on the matt or outside the print edge as such and also number limited addition prints.