Art Print vs Poster; a Quick Look at the Difference Between These Two Types of Printed Wall Art, Including the Difference in the Level of Quality (Paper, Ink & Printers Used)

Art Print vs Poster: Is a Print the Same as a Poster?

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

Although they have a lot of similarities, the biggest difference is in the level of quality.

Art prints are typically much more high-quality than posters.

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

Then, we’ll look at the best places to buy high-quality, affordable art prints and posters online.

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 Redbubble, which sells reproductions (art prints, canvas prints, posters, etc).

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 with an inkjet printer that uses 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 compared to art prints.

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 size and weight, but the paper is usually smooth and semi-glossy or glossy.

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 regular printer paper.

Are Posters Considered Art?

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

But can posters be considered art?

Absolutely!

Today, when you go to popular sites like Society6 and Redbubble, you’ll quickly find their poster prints are sold as artwork.

Although posters 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 are 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.

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

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 (like these already framed art prints from iCanvas, Redbubble, and Society6).

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

Are High-Quality 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 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 level of quality. They also become more valuable as the artist becomes more well-known.

But art is more than the monetary value associated 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 High-Quality Art Prints & Posters

Here are my favorite places to get the cheapest, most high-quality art prints and posters (and all these sites have amazing customer service that is trustworthy and reliable).

Please Note: The art sites below are not listed in any particular order.

Website Description
Society6 One of the best sites for people who want art on a variety of items.
Redbubble Another best site for people who want art on a variety of items.
Etsy Best site for people who want to buy affordable art directly from artists.
Amazon Handmade Best site for people who love & trust Amazon.
Inktuitive Best site for people looking for motivational framed/unframed canvas prints.
Minted Best site for people who want to buy limited edition prints.
Saatchi Art Best site for people who want to learn to invest in art.
iCanvas Best site for people looking for affordable framed art prints and canvas prints (unframed/framed).

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