Art Print vs. Poster Print (What’s the Difference?)

If you’re trying to print your artwork, you may know you have the option to reproduce your art as an art print or a poster print. You may have even seen both of these types of prints but aren’t sure what the distinction is between them. So, what is the difference between an art print and poster print?

Art prints differ from poster prints in terms of size, cost, quality, and durability. Apart from the fact that they are each a reproduction of original artwork, you will be hard-pressed to find ways in which art prints are not superior to poster prints in every way.

If you’re looking to sell or buy art, you should know the differences between these two print types in order to understand which type of print is most ideal for your use.

This article will explain the differences between art prints and poster prints in detail, showing you which one is a better choice to sell (or buy, if that’s the case).

What’s an Art Print?

Art Print vs. Poster Print (What’s the Difference?)

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An art print serves as a way to create a copy of your artwork on acid-free fine art paper, using special printers and archival inks to ensure that the prints last almost as long as the original artwork.

Artists have been making duplicate prints of their work for as far back as high-quality printers existed, mostly through printing companies, and more recently, by buying the required tools and printing it themselves.

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The acid-free paper and special quality ink make art prints very durable. With special care, a regular high-quality art print can last for a century, sometimes even longer.

What’s a Poster Print?

A poster print is a larger copy of an artwork made to fit into an expansive surface. Posters are several times larger than the paper used for regular art prints.

Poster prints use lower quality paper and ink to produce the larger image at a lower cost. The obvious downside is that poster prints aren’t as durable as regular art prints, and they don’t look as attractive either.

Unlike art prints, color accuracy isn’t a priority for poster prints. The main priority is producing a large image with the lowest possible budget.

Due to these compromises, poster prints are usually more affordable than art prints. However, you shouldn’t expect the level of durability you get from art prints; you’ll be hard-pressed to find a poster print that lasted even a decade.

Why You Should Choose an Art Print

Since both of these mediums bring the work of your favorite artists to you, albeit in different sizes, why should you choose one, in this case, art prints over poster prints?

There is one main reason why you should choose an art print over a poster print when shopping for reproduction fine art prints.

Art Prints Provide Durability

Art prints are simply more durable than poster prints, and it’s not even close. Poster prints weren’t designed with durability in mind, while art prints were designed with durability as the main focus.

For your print to qualify as an art print, you must follow some (unwritten) rules. Firstly, you must be using acid-free paper, designed specifically to last a long time, avoid fading, and reproduce colors with incredible accuracy.

Also, you must be using an inkjet-style printer that uses pigment-based inks. Pigment inks are better than dye in almost all aspects; they’re more resistant to damage from water, and they’re more resilient to fading from UV light and heat.

Due to these careful choices, art prints can last for many decades or longer. You’d be lucky to have a poster print last more than a few years.

Best Uses For Art Prints

Here are a few situations where you will want to choose an art print:

  • Fine art prints
  • Framed print
  • Canvas print
  • Wall art
  • Limited edition prints
  • You desire a matte finish
  • Any use where longevity is important

Recommended Reading: Do Giclee Prints Hold Their Value? (Explained)

Why You Should Choose an Art Poster Print

When comparing art and poster prints, art prints always seem to want to take all of the glory for themselves. However, poster prints also have an advantage, although it may not be much of an advantage, depending on your intended use of the print.

Here is the main reason why you may want to consider a poster print over an art print.

Poster Prints are Much Cheaper

Art Print vs. Poster Print (What’s the Difference?)

Poster prints are a lot cheaper than art prints for obvious reasons. Since posters use lower quality poster paper and inks, they sell for prices that are a steal, compared to what art prints sell for.

However, this price disparity fades out when you consider the long term. When you buy art prints, you know they can last for 75 years or more, at least.

In that 75 years, you’d have to replace your poster art print hundreds of times to keep it at the same quality as the art print.

When you factor in quality and durability, you’ll come to realize that poster prints don’t have a price advantage over art prints. But hey, they cost less.

Best Uses For Poster Prints

The following are a few uses where the bigger and less expensive poster print would be the better choice:

  • Movie posters
  • Sales adverts
  • Playbills
  • Short-term marketing or promotional uses (i.e. trade shows)
  • Anytime you’re printing in bulk and longevity is not required

Check out the short video below to see the difference in the weight of the paper when it comes to an art print vs poster.

Recommended Reading: How to Correctly Price Art Prints (Easy Guide)

Are Art Prints Better than Poster Prints?

Art prints are objectively superior in quality to poster prints, but that doesn’t mean they’re the best for every situation. While art prints are the obvious choice for some situations, going with poster prints may be your best bet in others.

If you care about the quality of the print over an extended period, you should go for an art print. Art prints are supremely durable, normally lasting for about 75 years without any special care, and can last for centuries with professional preservation techniques.

The ability of art prints to retain their quality over extended periods makes them the perfect prints for interior design and decor.

If you need many copies of the artwork for an event, investing in an art print might not be the best idea. Poster prints may not be the most durable, but they are a very attractive option for one-time events and some forms of advertising (i.e. advertising short-term retail sales events).

Art prints won’t work in these scenarios; their smaller maximum size won’t make them stand out, and they can be much too expensive to order in bulk.

If you’re an artist looking to sell your work in the art market, you should offer the option to order in an art print, as opposed to a poster print.

Alternatively, if you’re looking to buy reproduction fine art prints to hang as decor in your home or office, you’ll want to make sure that it is an art print.

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