Lithograph vs Serigraph – What’s the Difference?

Many collectors would love nothing more than to take home all kinds of stunning art pieces. However, the original piece is not always for sale.

Unless you can somehow get the artist to create a personalized piece, you may have to look for other ways to acquire a specific work of art. This is where art prints come in.

Art prints are reproductions of original creations. They may not be as coveted as the original piece, but they still hold plenty of value because the artist usually has a hand in their production. The rarity of an art print can also greatly impact its overall value.

While looking for art prints, you will likely encounter the terms lithograph and serigraph frequently. They are terms you must become familiar with quickly if you wish to be a smarter collector.

Let’s discuss the two of them in greater detail below.

Lithograph vs Serigraph

The main differences between lithographs and serigraphs is that a lithograph is made on a stone plate whereas a serigraph is made using a silkscreen printing process, lithographs are usually more expensive than serigraphs.

You may be wondering why it’s important to create a distinction between lithographs and serigraphs. The truth is that you can get an exquisite art print that can either be a lithograph or a serigraph.

The issue here is that you may not find exactly what you’re looking for if you don’t know how to distinguish the two. As a buyer, you may mistakenly pay way more than you need to for an art print when its real value doesn’t warrant that kind of investment.

There are also some noticeable differences between the aforementioned art prints. If you’re looking for a specific quality in a piece you want to purchase, it’s worth checking if it’s a lithograph or a serigraph.

Differences between Lithographs and Serigraphs

Lithographs and serigraphs vary from one another quite significantly. Arguably the biggest point of dissimilarity between them is how they are made.

Starting with lithographs, they are made using oil-based ink, water, paper, a printer, and a suitable surface.

To make the lithograph, an image will first be drawn on the provided surface. The image in question will be drawn using the oil-based ink. In some cases, a grease crayon may be used in place of the ink.

After that, water will be applied to the surface. Since oil and water don’t mix, the spots covered by the oil-based ink will repel the water.

More oil-based ink will then be used to coat the surface and it will stick to the spots the ink applied from earlier covered. After that, the recreated image will be printed on a piece of paper. That piece of paper is the art print that will be sold to collectors.

Serigraphs are created a bit differently. This time around, the materials needed include ink, a screen, a stencil, paper, and a squeegee or other kind of roller.

The process of creating the serigraph starts with the screen being pulled tightly. The piece of paper will also be set underneath the screen. This is also the time when the stencil is positioned over the screen.

With the screen, stencil, and paper in the right position, the ink will be poured over them. The ink will first be poured over the screen and it will be squeezed through using the squeegee. The product of that process is the serigraph.

Due to the how they’re made, serigraphs often feature more texture and color density compared to lithographs. Those differences are quite significant and they matter to buyers.

Lithograph vs. Serigraph: Which Is More Valuable?

Generally speaking, lithographs are more affordable than serigraphs. That distinction is due to the respective ways in which they are made.

As we already detailed above, the process of creating a serigraph is more complicated and involved than the one followed for lithograph production. It should come as no surprise then that serigraphs tend to be priced higher.

If you want to acquire an art print without spending too much, going for a lithograph is smart. However, if you’re okay with paying extra in exchange for a more detailed print, purchasing a serigraph is the way to go.

Now, there are cases wherein some lithographs may have a higher price tag than serigraphs. That often happens if the art print in question is very limited in quantity.

At the same time, the price of a serigraph can also skyrocket in value if it’s also limited in terms of quantity.

Because of the disparity in pricing between lithographs and serigraphs, you should really make it a point to purchase only from reliable vendors. You don’t want to spend a huge sum of money needlessly after all.

What Is Better: Lithograph or Serigraph?

What you consider to be better between lithographs and serigraphs will depend on what you’re looking for.

If you want the art print to be as good as it can be, the serigraph is the better option. It simply looks better and more detailed compared to lithographs. Serigraphs may also be printed on to fabric which gives them a different dimension.

You can also argue that serigraphs are better investments relative to lithographs.

We talked earlier about how being limited in number can increase the value of a particular art print. Both lithographs and serigraphs will see their values rise significantly if they are limited in number.

The increase may be even greater for serigraphs. For those who are planning to purchase a limited edition of art print in the hopes of flipping it for a larger profit later on, seeking out a serigraph would be advisable.

So, when is purchasing a lithograph the better choice? Lithographs are obviously more accessible thanks to their price tags. They are good pieces to go after if you’re still building up your art collection.

You may still notice a difference in price points even when limiting your selection to lithographs. That could be because some of the pieces are offset lithographs while the others are hand lithographs.

Offset lithographs generally feature better quality, but hand lithographs may be more valuable if the artist was more involved in their production.

Be a more discerning collector by knowing the difference between lithographs and serigraphs. Use the information in this article to make better purchases and amass a more impressive collection.