Art Prints vs Posters; What Is the Difference Between Them?

Wondering what’s the difference between art prints and posters?

Then you’re definitely in the right place because I’ll answer all your questions right here!

Is an Art Print the Same as a Poster?

No. An art print is not the same as a poster (also called poster print).

Although they have a lot of similarities, art prints are typically much more high-quality than posters.

To really understand the difference between art print and poster, let’s look at each of them separately.

What Is the Difference Between an Art Print and a Poster?

What’s an Art Print?

The term art print should not be confused with the term fine art print.

While a fine art print is considered original artwork, an art print is a commonly used term used to describe a type of reproduction (a copy of an original work of art).

Examples of reproductions are prints that can be mass-produced like posters, art prints, and canvas prints.

You can see images of reproductions by visiting iCanvas.

Art prints can be easily mass-produced without the aid of the artist who created the original artwork and they’re typically printed on white, premium, cotton paper with high-quality inks. Usually, the paper used for an art print is matte and can be smooth or lightly textured.

If you go to popular art sites such as Society6 or Redbubble, you’ll quickly notice that what they call art print is artwork printed on medium-weight, cotton paper with a white border. It’s common for art prints to come with a white border around the artwork for framing, but it’s not a requirement.

An example of what most people call art print is in Society6’s product video (below).

Product Video: Society6 Art Prints

Today, most high-quality art prints are giclees, which means that they are prints that have been printed using an inkjet printer.

Typically, giclees follow these standards:

  • Inkjet Printer: Standard inkjet prints are made using dye-based inks. Giclees are made using pigment-based inks.
  • High Resolution and Color: They have the sharpest detail and highest resolution, displaying a full-color spectrum. Giclees capture every shade of an original work.
  • Archival Paper: The paper or surface used must be acid-free and of archival quality to ensure longevity.

The standards mentioned above are what make giclees high-quality art prints that are very resistant to fading and yellowing.

What’s a Poster Print?

Typically, a poster (also called poster print) is a type of print. And, more specifically, it’s a reproduction (a mechanical copy of an original work of art).

Typically, posters are easily printed in bulk and use lower quality inks and paper. The paper is usually smooth and semi-glossy or glossy.

Its lower standards of quality are what make posters much more affordable than most other types of prints. But their lower standards in quality also limit their life span and careful attention to true color is usually not a top priority.

Posters are printed on all kinds of poster paper that differ in sizes and weight.

Poster paper is water-resistant so it doesn’t crinkle up or rip easily when it gets wet. It’s also a little thicker and more durable compared to the regular paper you see every day.

Are Posters Considered Art?

Posters prints are also one of the cheapest ways to decorate bare walls.

If they’re framed properly with a contemporary poster frame (my absolute favorite poster frame is this one), posters can look amazing. Framing is my favorite thing for my vintage and propaganda poster collections. Plus, it extends the life of my posters.

However, today, when you go to popular sites like Society6 and Redbubble, you’ll quickly find that poster prints that are sold as artwork have more similarities than differences.

Although poster prints are considered to be of lesser quality than other types of prints, sites like Society6 and Redbubble have posters that are printed on high-quality, smooth gloss or semi-gloss poster paper.

The weight for most poster paper is usually 120-140gsm* which is sturdy enough for temporary posters you would find nailed to a post outside, advertising a band’s gig or trying to find a missing pet . They can definitely handle a bit of wind and rain.

* GSM means grams per square meter and describes how heavy paper is.

However, posters that meant to be hung on your walls as art should usually be 185gsm in weight or more if they won’t be framed.

Society6 posters are around 271gsm and Redbubble posters are 185gsm in weight.

Are Art Prints Tacky?

This one is a no-brainer because you can’t ever go wrong with an art print, as long as it’s framed.

In my opinion, and the opinion of many art buyers, framed art prints never look tacky no matter the subject of the artwork. This is especially true if the print is sharp with rich, vibrant colors, and the frame is made with premium materials.

Framed prints are practically fool-proof and they make ANY high-quality print of a famous painting look amazing.

Are Art Prints Worth Buying?

Art prints are often seen as mass-produced copies of original artwork that aren’t valuable. But I totally disagree!

Art prints, especially limited edition giclees like you see on Minted and Saatchi Art, can be highly valuable.

Here are the top reasons why I think giclee art prints are valuable:

  1. Giclee prints have the support of fine art experts. They are collected and displayed by famous museums from around the world, like the Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum.
  2. They are very accurate, archival prints. Sometimes, it’s very difficult to distinguish between giclees and the original artwork.
  3. It’s not uncommon for limited edition giclee prints to go up in value because of their rarity and high quality. They also become more valuable as the artist becomes more well-known.

But art is more than the monetary value associate with it. Even if you’re not buying art as an investment, art prints can bring life into your home or office!

With art, you can express yourself or change the mood of any room. And art prints are much more budget-friendly than original works of art, so ANYONE can enjoy art at a fraction of the price!

Cheapest Place To Buy Top-Quality Art Prints & Posters

Here are my favorite places to get the cheapest, high-quality art prints and posters.

If I’m looking for more super inexpensive art prints or posters, I’ll usually browse through Etsy and Amazon Handmade and read the reviews until I find something I like with a 4 or 5-star rating.

My other favorite places to get art prints is iCanvas, Society6, and Redbubble. These companies are all known to be high-quality producers of art prints that do not look cheap at all.

iCanvas has high-quality art prints at discounted prices. Plus, they have free shipping in the contiguous United States!

iCanvas has high-quality art prints of famous posters at discounted prices. Plus, they have free shipping in the contiguous United States!

Another place I like the buy art prints is Minted (you can also get custom art prints made from a Minted artist). You’ll end up paying slightly more for these art prints, but they’re of premium quality and are limited editions, so they’re more valuable than most art prints.

And, last but not least, if I’m looking to buy art prints as an investment, Saatchi Art is where I go! Just like minted, these art prints are usually limited editions, they’re curated by a team of professionals, and are usually more valuable (but a little more expensive) than the art prints from the sites mentioned above.

So, go ahead and buy art prints or posters, support independent artists, and HAVE FUN shopping!