An Art Print for Every Bird of The Year | NZ Fine Prints

An Art Print for Every Bird of The Year

While the annual Bird of the Year (BOTY) competition may have already come and gone for 2020, we believe that native birds of New Zealand need all the love they can get all year round. In tribute to the Bird of the Year competition that raises awareness of native birds in Aotearoa, in this post we revisit four of the birds that have recently been voted Bird of the Year to showcase art prints of each specimen by a talented avian artist from our collection of prints for sale.

The Kākāpō (2020)

Kākāpō or Owl Parrot from Buller's Birds of NZ.

The first New Zealand bird we introduce is the kākāpō (a.k.a. stringops habroptilus), winner of New Zealand’s Bird of the Year (Te Manu Rongonui o Te Tau) for 2020. In this print, we see a beautiful rendition of the kākāpō or "Owl Parrot" from Buller's Birds of NZ. This is a fine example of this endangered species before it was endangered! This large, nocturnal bird is a flightless, ground-dwelling parrot endemic to New Zealand. First published in 1888 in Buller’s A History of Birds of New Zealand, second edition, the kākāpō is subtitled as an “Owl Parrot”, a common name at the time, now forgotten by most. Bird prints like this one will make a fine addition to any home or office, bringing a refreshing touch of natural Kiwi beauty to your walls.

The Kererū (2018)

Kererū, the New Zealand wood pigeon by John Keulemans
Print of a Kererū by Keulemans

Meet the Kererū (Carpophaga Novae Zealandiae), the only pigeon that is native to the mainland of Aotearoa. Winner of Bird of the Year 2018, this large feathery fowl is known for its noisy wingbeats and is seen as an important seed disperser for native trees, attributed to its ability to swallow large fruits that other birds cannot. It’s for this reason that kererū are usually seen sitting on a branch, digesting their recently devoured meal. The featured artwork elegantly captures the pigeon’s soft plumes, as it sits perched in its natural habitat. Created by John Keulemans, this image was first shown in 1888 in W.L. Buller’s A History of the Birds of New Zealand, second edition, alongside the kākāpō and many other native New Zealand fowl. This print comes in a 350 x 490 mm sizing, surrounded by a charming white border to complement any home décor!

The Kea (2017)

Buller (After Bill Hammond) by Barry Ross Smith
Buller (After Bill Hammond) feat. NZ's native kea

Another championing bird of New Zealand is the kea! As part of the parrot family Nestoridae, the kea (green bird, second from the left) is a large species of parrot native to the South Island of New Zealand. Living in alpine and forested regions of the island, the kea is from the same family as the kaka and is most distinctly recognised for its olive-green plumage and brilliant orange colouring under the wings. The print shown is a Barry Ross Smith artwork from his “island” series of paintings. The title,  "Buller (After Bill Hammond)" references both Buller’s Birds and Bill Hammond. In this painting, the island is home to a variety of native New Zealand birds, including the Tui, Kiwi, Weka, and Kea, alongside the extinct Huia. Any bird lover or collector of New Zealand animal posters would love to add this uniquely NZ artwork to their collection!

The Kōkako (2016)

kōkako in Karaka by Holly Roach
Kokako Print by NZ Artist Holly Roach

For our fourth winner, we feature the kōkako, champion of the Bird of the Year award for 2016! The wonderful print shown above is a fine example of the kōkako (Callaeas cinerea), which is large, featuring long legs and tail, deep bluish-grey plumage, a black mask, and a short, strongly arched bill. The “Kōkako in Karaka” image depicts NZ Flora and fauna by Holly Roach. The kōkako in this print sits idly in a karaka tree, feasting while surrounded by fat orange berries. Using archival inks for rich, deep colour that lasts, the fine art print is created on a smooth matte paper that’s mid-weight and acid-free. This contemporary print comes in a 420 x 600 mm and is available alongside many other incredible bird posters within our online NZ bird prints gallery.

Buy quality long-lasting prints from New Zealand Fine Prints

We hope you enjoyed this brief tribute to the birds of New Zealand! If you’re interested in seeing more exceptional works from our artists, feel free to explore New Zealand Fine Prints online. Whether you’re looking for incredible prints of New Zealand birds or art nouveau posters, we have a vast range of art prints for you to see. If you have a favourite already, then peruse our collection of artists online to view all their latest works, or search prints by category and find brilliant new artists to love. Each print is deliverable either rolled and kept safe in a tube, framed or occasionally even pre-stretched on a canvas, ready-to-hang upon arrival. Start shopping New Zealand’s greatest prints online today!

The NZ Fine Prints Christmas Gift Guide | NZ Fine Prints

The NZ Fine Prints Christmas Gift Guide

Pile of christmas gift art prints wrapped in brown paper among Christmas decorations

From canvas paintings to woodcuts and giclee prints, art makes a great Christmas gift for any family member or dear friend! Finding a print of something they love truly shows how much you care about them. Plus, art is a gift that will remind them of you whenever they see it hanging on the wall. It’s not something that they’ll feel guilty about not using, because it doesn’t need to be used! Art exists to brighten the world around us, and by finding that perfect piece for your loved one, you’re doing just that for them. You might think that buying art is expensive, especially if you’re interested in giving a print of a famous piece, but that isn’t always the case. In fact, here at New Zealand Fine Prints, we have prints available at a range of prices, which you can sort by budget. Just open the left-hand menu, and select ‘gift budget’. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, don’t worry! Below, we’ll go over a few of our top picks for gift art in 2020.


Pohutukawa Cave

Painting of nz beach in summer with cave in background and Pohutukawa in foreground.
Pohutukawa Cave by Diana Adams

What better way to celebrate Christmas than with a print featuring New Zealand’s own Christmas tree—Pohutukawa! This print is a fine example of NZ canvas wall art, originally painted by Diana Adams, known for her bold, clear paintings in acrylic.  Golden beaches like the one in this painting have long been a favourite subject of hers. This is a large, more expensive print, ideal for a big gift for someone with a lot of wall space. Canvas prints of paintings like this are typically delivered rolled in a tube, but if you need it delivered ready to hang, you can select “stretched” on the main image page.

Nympheas 1913

image of Monet water lilies painting with pink and blue flowers
Nympheas 1913 by Claude Monet

A great example of a classic piece at an affordable price, this faithful recreation of Claude Monet’s impressionist masterpiece is in our $30-$50 Gift Range. This painting is part of the wider ‘Water Lilies’ series by Monet, which includes a total of about 250 oil paintings. They were created during the last three decades of his life, and many were painted while Monet was suffering from cataracts and losing his vision. This is a great but affordable piece for the classic art aficionado in your life.


Kiwi Print from ‘Birds of NZ’

Kiwi art print by Sir Walter Lawry Buller
Kiwi Print from "Birds of NZ"

This print is a great pick as a stocking stuffer or Secret Santa gift, available for under $10! The original of this print is a lithograph that was published in 1873. It was created for ‘A History of the Birds of New Zealand’ by Sir Walter Lawry Buller, who was born in New Zealand just before it was colonised by Europeans. He published several books on the native birds of New Zealand, including the aforementioned ‘Birds of New Zealand’. This book had a total of thirty-six lithographs of native birds, all coloured by hand!


Find the perfect gift today!

For more great gift ideas, browse our galleries to explore the huge range of classic and contemporary art we have on offer. No matter who you’re buying for or what your budget is, we’re sure to have something that will catch your eye. Give the gift of art this Christmas, and make someone’s world that little bit brighter!

New Zealand’s Māori Heritage in Modern Visual Art | NZ Fine Prints

How New Zealand Is Reclaiming Māori Heritage Through Visual Art

Traditional maori carving in hamiton gardens maori heritage garden

New Zealand’s indigenous Māori culture has always valued art. The patterns and designs of tangata whenua are easily identifiable when seen in Māori poster art, architecture, and carving, but few outside of NZ know about the history behind modern Māori art. Where did it begin, and what happened to it through the 20th century to bring it to where it stands today? In this blog, we’re going to explore some of these questions by tracing the basic history of Māori art from pre-colonisation, through the contemporary Māori art of the 1950s, to now. In particular, we highlight how and why Māori art changed in the 20th century.


What was Māori art like before Pakeha arrived?

Traditional Māori art was historically focused around practicality. What we often think of as Māori art now began as pieces that intentionally married both form and functionality. In many cases, one inspired the other. Pieces could have had many uses, but they often had a principal use or an underlying symbolism. Furthermore, Māori art was used to give physical shape to important ideas, and often, art pieces were created by a single material, whether wood, bone, or flax. The material chosen also helped inform how a piece of art would look. Before European colonisation and repression typified by legislation such as the Tohunga Suppression Act of 1907, Tohunga were deeply involved in art. While there may not be a single, analogous definition for Tohunga, they are often described today as experts in a given skill or art form. They may have been priests, carvers, linguists, or tattoo artists—a master of any of these could be considered a Tohunga. Not all art was created by Tohunga, as art was also a communal activity that groups could work on together, but art created by Tohunga was especially valued.


The effects of colonisation on Māori Art

The introduction of Pakeha changed Māori art dramatically, in multiple ways. There were surface-level changes, such as carving changing in response to the metal tools Pakeha brought with them, but there are also more profound changes in the culture which altered the art form. Some Māori adopted Christianity, for example, while others felt that their culture was being eroded, and the policy of Pakeha impacted Māori art directly, as in the case of the Tohunga Suppression Act. New leaders emerged, like Te Kooti, Te Whiti, and Rua Kenana. Te Kooti, in particular, inspired a religious movement called Ringatū, which combined elements of the Bible and Māori spirituality. His battle flag, Te Wepu (translated as the whip), was sewn by Catholic nuns, and became a famous piece of art. The flag was eventually captured by Gilbert Mair Jr, a colonist soldier and interpreter, who at one point led the national hunt for Te Kooti. Mair Jr then entrusted it to the Dominion Museum, but later learned it had been destroyed.


The emergence of ‘modern’ Māori art

In the early 1900s, Māori art began to return to more traditional forms. The establishment of the Young Māori Party, led by figures such as Sir Apirana Ngata, helped shape these opinions, and encouraged Māori to forget the teachings of prior religious leaders in favour of finding their own path to progress. While this did push Māori to reconnect with more traditional forms of art, many criticised the views of the Young Māori Party, which also called for Māori to abandon other traditions and adopt western medicine and education. Māori art began to change again in the 1950s, and this can be traced more or less to Gordon Tovey, national art supervisor for the Department of Education. He was particularly interested in fostering Māori art, and so began a small training group of Māori artists. This group included several artists who went on to become very important in New Zealand’s art history, such as Ralph Hotere. This movement began what we know think of as the contemporary, or ‘modern’ period of Māori art. 

Paratene Matchitt print "Me Whawhai Tatou Katoa Mo Te Ora"
Paratene Matchitt limited edition print

Paratene Matchitt was also part of this group. His work is known for combining Māori tradition with modernist art forms, and references much of New Zealand’s history, including the prophetic movements, especially that of Te Kooti. Matchitt’s wood sculpture ‘Te Wepu’ is a clear reference to the original flag, and it is now owned by the same institution that destroyed the original. Matchitt originally created it as a wero, or challenge, calling out the National Museum’s tendency to endorse a narrow section of Māori art.


Māori art today

The combination of Māori and European art continues to this day, often used to make art that interrogates its own history or makes statements about Māori in the world today. Shane Cotton, for example, has continued the use of the Ringatū motifs that Matchitt referenced in his own work. The digital landscape of the modern world is also bringing more attention to traditional forms of Māori art. As an example, a Rotorua-based carver going by the online name ‘Broxh’ has received a surge of popularity after streaming his work process live on Twitch. If you’re interested in bringing some of New Zealand’s history into your own home, take a look at the Maori art for sale in our gallery today!

NZ most collectable prints? - The Barry Lett Multiples

Barry Lett Multiples Catalogue
The catalogue for the Barry Lett Multiples (all images credit: Lesley Melody)

The Barry Lett Multiples are a set of 12 prints published in 1968. Art dealer Barry Lett produced the set with the idea of making modern art accessible to a wider audience by at a low cost. Artist, creative and clothing designer Lesley Melody is very familiar with the Barry Lett Multiples, as she explained in a recent email she is "very fortunate to own a set of the Multiples and enjoy them every day".  A few years ago Lesley took the time to transcribe the original catalogue which accompanied her prints when purchased. This catalogue describes the 12 artworks and gave biographical information on the artists - some of whom have become regarded as extremely significant NZ artists by today - that participated in this fabled series of screenprints over 50 years ago.  We are very grateful that Lesley has given us permission to re-publish material from her 2009 article, a copy of which she now has just put on her new website here.

Lesley wrote in her introduction "Art dealer Barry Lett invited 12 artists, some established and some up and coming, to contribute to the project. They were printed on paper and came stacked in a single glass fronted frame so that they could be rotated for viewing at will.

Many of the 12 who contributed have emerged as significant New Zealand artists - most notably Colin McCahon, Gordon Walters, Ralph Hotere and Milan Mrkusich [we would also add Michael Smither and Don Binney to Lesley's original list].

In 1968 the price $35 for the full set and it is unknown exactly how may copies were produced.

The exhibition catalogue is a sheet of large (A1-ish size) paper, printed in 2 colours with an explanatory piece about each artist and their print, and shows (with an orange line) the size of the main prints.

The sets usually became split as the more widely known artist prints, especially those by Colin McCahon, Gordon Walters and Ralph Hotere were more sought after. There are therefore relatively few complete sets. Iconic works like McCahon and Binney have been seen to change hands between $3,000 and $6,000 each [these prints sell for about double these amounts in 2020]."

Catalogue Transcription

Don Binney, Pacific Frigate Bird
Born in Auckland, 1940. Studied School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland 1958-61. Awarded Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council Fellowship in 1966.

In Europe and North and Central America in 1967-68. At present painting full-time.

He has held several one-man shows since 1963, including one at the Instituto Anglo-Mexicano in Mexico City, as part of the cultural programme accompanying the XIX Olympiad. His work has been included in all important exhibitions assembled here in recent years.

Finalist in the 1968 Benson and Hedges Art Award.

Public Collections: Auckland, Palmerston North, Christchurch, Dunedin.

Binney has used the frigate bird in several paintings recently In most of his recent paintings and drawings the placing of images is similar to the present work, his concern being to establish a vertical tension between natural forms, usually with birds, and the landscape, or, in this case, the horizon, as his major images.  [Update: There is now an offset reproduction print available of Pacific Frigate Bird.]

Gordon Walters, Tawa
Born Wellington, 1919. Studied at Wellington Technical College School of Art. The first exhibitions of his work were held in Wellington in 1945 and 1947. Traveled and studied in Australia and Europe 1947-53. Commenced developing his present style of painting after returning from overseas. Has subsequently held one-man exhibitions in Auckland and Wellington. Finalist in the 1968 Benson and Hedges Art Award, and was second prize winner in the 1967 Manawatu Prize for Contemporary Art.

Public Collections: Auckland, Palmerston North, Sydney, N.S.W.

Walters is undoubtedly New Zealand's foremost practitioner of Op art and there are few artists working in any style who have resolved the combination of international (Op) and national (the koru-like forms) elements with the success that he has.

Robert Ellis, Motorways
Born in Northampton, England in 1929. Studied at the Northampton School of Art 1944-1947, and at the Royal College of Art London, graduating in painting in 1952. After four years teaching at the Yeovil School of Art he came to New Zealand in 1957 to take up an appointment as lecturer at the Elam School of Art University of Auckland. He has been there since, being made Associate Professor in 1966.

Ellis has held many one-man shows in New Zealand and Australia, and has been included in most contemporary New Zealand painting exhibitions, both local and touring, since 1962.

Public Collections: Auckland, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Adelaide.

Since 1960, most of Ellis' work has been based on various aspects of the man-made urban environment - predominantly the city itself and, more recently, the communicating motorway systems which steadily deface the natural landscape. For Ellis, the city has developed an organic life of its own, and the paintings convey the forces contained within it. Ellis' cities are highly complex images, built up from experience acquired at different times from many places. Although often superficially resembling aerial views of cities, they are in fact an assimilation of many viewpoints and experiences.

Mervyn Williams, Midas finds his Soul
Born in Whakatane, 1940. Studied at the School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland. Works as a silk-screen printer and was, for a while In 1969, a tutor at the Auckland Technical Institute.

Has participated in group shows since 1965 including a two-man show with Pat Hanly in Wellington in 1966.

His work has been included in the 1966 International Print Biennale in Tokyo and the 1969 Biennale in Ljubljana, Yugoslavia. Winner of "Samarkand Award" New Zealand Print Council, 1969 .

Public Collections: Auckland.

Midas finds his Soul makes use of a combination of Op patterns and a photo-copy of a detailed technical drawing of a compressive mechanical device implying pressure and stress. Williams' Midas symbolises certain ill-considered tendencies in our society, especially those that could endlessly exploit both physical and social environments to render them - as with the ill-fated original - ultimately unsuitable for human habitation.

Ralph Hotere, Red on Black
Born in Northland in 1931. Studied art at Auckland and Dunedin Teachers' Training Colleges. Worked in Northland as a school art specialist for nine years. Awarded an Association of N.Z. Art Societies' Fellowship in 1961, taking him to England and Europe; sponsored by a Karolyi International Fellowship in France and Italy 1962-63; returned to New Zealand in 1965 to resume his post as an Arts and Crafts Advisor to the Education Department. He left this in 1969 to take up his latest
award - the 1969 Frances Hodgkins Fellowship at Otago University.

Public Collections: Auckland, New Plymouth, Dunedin.

Much of Hotere's recent work has been predominantly black, using other colour only for the thin cruciforms included in many of them.

In this "minimal art", surface texture, tonal variations and, in some highly polished paintings, reflections have played a large part in the effectiveness of the works. The multiple offers an excellent opportunity to deliberately deny painterly qualities and "Red on Black" can be regarded as perhaps an ultimate summation of Hotere's intentions.

Of an earlier body of work, to which this may be related, he says "(This) may be called an object of visual contemplation ... I have provided the spectator with a starting point ... It is the spectator who provokes the change and the meaning in (this work) ".

Michael Smither, Wave Invading Rockpool
Born New Plymouth, 1939. Studied School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland 1959-60. One-man exhibitions in New Zealand and Australia from 1965 onwards and has taken part in group shows including four exhibitions with the "Essentialists", 1968-69, a show that has visited Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane. Has done many church commissions.

Finalist in the 1968 Benson and Hedges Art Award, and winner of the 1968 H. C. Richards Memorial Art Prize in Queensland.

Public Collections: Auckland.

The sea, and especially, the rock pool are recurring images in many of Smither's paintings. For maximum effect in the present medium he has simplified his normally super-realistic style while still retaining both essence and illusory effects of the foam-capped wave breaking into a rock pool. This multiple was printed under the artist's own supervision.

Patrick Hanly Inside the Garden
Born Palmerston North, 1932. Studied School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury, 1952-55. Painted in London, Florence and Amsterdam, 1957 -62, British Art Council Award to Yugoslavia in 1960; awarded Italian Government Scholarship in 1960, Dutch Government Scholarship 1962.

Returned to New Zealand in 1962 and has devoted most of his time since then to painting although he acts as a tutor for both the School of Architecture and the School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland. He has also been a tutor at several Adult Education summer schools in Wellington and Auckland.

He has held one-man exhibitions in London and New Zealand and has participated in group and travelling exhibitions in England, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Yugoslavia, Poland and Argentina, including the 1963 and 1965 Paris Biennales, the 1964 International Print Biennale in Tokyo and the International Exhibition of Graphic Art in Ljubljana, Yugoslavia in 1967.

In 1966 he won the Manawatu Prize for Contemporary Art.

Public Collections: Auckland, Palmerston North, Dunedin.

Hanly's exhibition of watercolours entitled 'Inside the Garden' was an expression of the artist's new attitudes towards existence and painting. Having readjusted to the external aspects of returning to New Zealand he is, in these works concerned with the inner nature of things. The garden is a place of peace and yet a place of great sub-molecular activity. "Those who see only the garden see nothing."

Unlike the other works in this series of multiples which are all silk-screen prints, this one uses a line block and stencils and was printed by the artist.

Colin McCahon, North Otago Landscape
Born in Timaru, 1919. Largely self·taught although he studied with Russell Clark in Dunedin from 1933 to 1935 and at the Dunedin Technical College 1937 to 1939 during the winter terms. From 1939 until 1948, when he moved to Christchurch, McCahon lived in various localities in the Nelson province. In 1953 he came North to join the staff of the Auckland City Art Gallery where he remained until 1964, leaving to take up a position as lecturer in painting at the School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland.

McCahon has held one man shows in one of the four main centres every year since 1947, and his work has been included in all the major exhibitions of contemporary New Zealand painting that have been assembled in this country. He spent four months, in 1958, in the U.S.A. on a Carnegie Grant. He was joint winner of the Hay's Art Prize in 1960. A retrospective exhibition (with M. T. Woollaston) was held in 1963.

Collections: Auckland, Palmerston North, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin.

The land has always been one of McCahon's great loves and his paintings have included many landscapes incorporating religious themes. Several of earlier paintings depicted the crucifixion taking place amongst the Nelson hills. In 1965 the painter revisited North Otago, out of which came a series of landscape painting of which he has said:

"These landscapes are places I have seen and known ... in painting this landscape I am not trying to show any simple likeness to a specific place. These paintings are most certainly about my long love affair with North Otago as a unique and lonely place. The real subject is buried in the works themselves and needs no intellectual striving to be revealed - perhaps they are just North Otago Landscapes."

Michael Illingworth, Tawera
Born in England, 1932. Studied textile design after leaving school. Came to New Zealand in 1952. Worked, traveled and painted throughout the country until 1957 when he returned to Europe. He spent five years there painting, visiting galleries and working in a London dealer-gallery.

Apart from a brief period of employment after his return here in 1961, he has worked as a fulltime painter. Was recipient in 1966, of the first Frances Hodgkins Fellowship from the University of Otago.

Public Collections: Auckland.

The asexual Tawera is an image that has occurred often in Illingworth's work and is, perhaps, a natural and logical total symbol for the tiny stylised people who have been included in so many of his paintings. Here, too, we find the stylised portrayal of the almost idyllic landscape that Illingworth feels this country is.

Toss Woollaston, Patrick Lucas
Born in Toko, Taranaki. His only professional art training came from two terms at the Canterbury College School of Art in 1931, at Dunedin Technical College in 1932, and a further term at Canterbury in 1938. He lived at Mapua in Nelson from 1939 until 1950 when he moved further south to Greymouth. He has now moved back to the Nelson Province.

Woollaston has been awarded two fellowships by the Association of NZ Art Societies in 1958 and in 1960. He visited Australia for five weeks in 1958, and in 1960 he visited and painted in Nelson and later in Taranaki. An Arts Advisory Council bursary took him to Europe and America in 1962. "Erua" a book of drawings with an accompanying commentary was published in 1966.

He has held many one-man exhibitions and participated in many group shows throughout the country and has been represented in most of the travelling exhibitions that have left New Zealand. A retrospective exhibition (with Colin McCahon) was held in 1963.

Public Collections: Auckland, Napier, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin.

Like McCahon, Woollaston has painted many landscapes but the human figure has held almost equal importance for him. H is distinctive style has been reasonably constant over the past thirty years. developing within itself rather than changing with the times.

Of his drawings he has said " ... lines, blotches, abstraction, naturalism they all go to serve in a crisis. For me every drawing is a crisis and its resolution."

Ross Ritchie, Three
Born in Wellington, 1941. Attended Wellington Technical College Design School part-time for 18 months, 1961 -62, otherwise self-taught. Moved to Auckland in 1964 and has worked at the Auckland City Art Gallery for most of the time since.

He has taken part in several two-man exhibitions in Auckland and Wellington, and his work has been included in travelling exhibitions that have left New Zealand.

Public Collections: Auckland.

Ritchie has been moving increasingly towards hard-edged imagery though up until now there has been very little pure abstraction. The detail of his earlier work has given way to strong, simple images as in this one, where Op elements are also used, giving the suggestion of 3 dimensions.

Milan Mrkusich, Passive Element
Born in Dargaville, 1925. largely self-taught. First showing of paintings and drawings was at the School of Architecture, University of Auckland in 1949. He has exhibited widely since, both here and abroad, including participation in a three man show that visited Paris, London and Brussels; and his work has been included in most important exhibitions of contemporary New Zealand paintings.

Public Collections: Auckland, Palmerston North, Dunedin

Mrkusich has nearly always painted in an abstract manner' this has evolved into a formal and extremely sophisticated style. Passive Element is an example of his recent work in which he expresses his concern with the colour problem in painting, synchronised with the expression of the deeper aspects of reality.

Buying Limited Edition Prints: What You Need to Know | NZ Fine Prints

Tony Ogle "To the Lookout" limited edition art print

What You Need to Know About Buying Limited Edition Art Prints

If you’re looking into buying a limited-edition print, whether you’re starting out your collector’s journey or are just really interested in purchasing a specific piece, edition info may not be the first thing you think about. Of course, if you have your heart set on a particular piece which you know you love, these details might not change your mind. However, knowing a piece’s edition info not only gives you a greater appreciation for the piece; it also gives you a clearer understanding of the piece’s value, the artist, and of the art market in general. Not sure how to go about buying limited edition art prints? Here are the important factors you will want to consider.


Edition Value

Many pieces of art—whether prints, photography, or sometimes even sculptures—are created in runs. These are multiple original artworks (not a reproduction of an original artwork) using printmaking techniques such as etchings, lithographs, etc. Even though many prints of the piece are made, they are counted by collectors and historians as ‘first edition’ artworks if they are part of a particular set. So, while a piece may not be completely one-of-a-kind, it is still considered unique or rare as part of an original run of prints. These limited-edition groups of works often retain their value very well, as artists usually destroy the materials needed to create extra copies that are exactly alike, such as photo negatives. That said, popular art can be re-printed for second or third edition runs, or even more if demand is high. These limited editions can also be worth more than a standard replication of a piece.


Print Number

Edition Number Pic
Print Number Example (8/75)
Given that editions get less valuable as they go on—first editions are more valuable than second editions, etc.—many assume this also extends to the number of the print. This is the number given to a piece to identify it within the edition. For example, if there are 20 copies in an edition, your piece may be labelled 5/20, or 13/20, or even 1/20. Contrary to popular belief, however, this number doesn’t impact the value as in general modern printmaking techniques don't wear out soft metal plates etc, which resulted in later prints being of lesser quality. In fact, most artists number pieces randomly, not in the order that they’re printed. Sometimes, the end of the scale (20/20 in our case) can be more expensive, but this is only because galleries tend to list limited edition prints in numerical order. As these run out and stocks run low, demand can lead to higher prices.


Artist Proofs

Limited edition pieces usually also come with artist proofs; look for ‘AP’ or ‘A/P’ in the edition info.
Mickey to Tiki (Reversed)
Mickey to Tiki (Reversed) by Dick Frizzell, featuring artist proofs
Other kinds of proofs exist too, which are provided by the printer, but artist proofs are more common. Artist proofs are popular at New Zealand Fine Prints because these are the first prints to be made, and any adjustments to the printing process are made by the actual artist working on these prints. The proofs themselves can be highly collectable—some of them might have notes or marks made by the artist, and this can make them much rarer and more unique.


Explore the world of art today

If you’re interested in edition info, your best course of action is to talk to the gallery or printmaker selling the prints. Here at New Zealand Fine Prints, we have a range of contemporary collectable ltd edition prints, alongside antique and rare pieces as well as our range of canvas prints, giclee fine art prints, and more, and we’re happy to answer your questions about the differences between all the different kinds of prints that we stock, whether open or limited edition. To find out more, get in touch with us, shop New Zealand’s largest collection of prints online today!