What Tells The True Value of Works On Paper?

  • by Francesca Testa

Paper may be the most versatile, adaptable medium out there. It encompasses not only drawings and prints but also collages and even oil and acrylics. This medium, often pushed aside as if it's low in value, is what truly sets the value of the work itself and what comes after it. So what tells the true value of works on paper? Is it the medium used, the artist, or something more?

Cartellino Value of Paper
Installation view of High Noon, Photo courtesy of Vitamin Creative Space

Monetary Value

The monetary value of paper varies just as works on canvas or those that are three-dimensional. Prints, especially those that of limited editions, are expected to be more expensive than those in open editions but is far less expensive than works on canvas. This, of course, still depends on the artist and their current industry standing. It is safe to say that paper will always have a wider range when it comes to its price. Some can be as expensive as a few million dollars while others can go as cheap as a hundred dollars. That advantage already puts works on paper at the front; its price points are friendly not only to experienced collectors but also to those who are only beginning to fill their spaces with art.

"Paper is a basic medium that every one of us has
at least once in our lives held a sheet of paper on our hands and
just like us, artists have begun their journeys
on pieces of paper."

Cartellino Value of Paper
Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Condition and Maintenance

Works on paper are often put down for its fragility and while this is true, innovations in the conservation of works on paper make it easier to keep one in your collection. Framers, especially experienced ones, have learned to use the right type of materials when framing works on paper—acid-free, anti-UV glasses, and more. These things have put a rest on the concerns of collectors when it comes to maintenance, with the right care of the collector like avoiding direct sunlight or heat sources and fluctuating temperatures to name a few.

Cartellino Value of Paper
Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Its True Value

Works on paper can never be degraded but instead uplifted for its adaptability. Printmaking, for one, is a tedious and intricate task. Not everyone can master the art of printmaking and not everyone is meant to appreciate it. With this, it is to say that paper shows most of an artist's creative process through their works on paper. Most artists begin with sketches or studies on paper before innovating to a different medium. While not every artist shows further development of works on paper to, say, a work on canvas, a sketch or a study already says a lot about where work begins.

Paper is a basic medium that every one of us has at least once in our lives held a sheet of paper on our hands and just like us, artists have begun their journeys on pieces of paper. Each work on paper is unique as it's the easiest to uncover—to digest and understand. Even in a single collage, a little squint tells you which piece was placed first. This vital difference of paper from canvas speaks a lot about its true value—the significance of process and technique in a substance more malleable than one could ever think.



Anchor photo courtesy of Unsplash