Top tips for buying decorative prints for your home

Don't let the art professionals scare you. We give you the top tips on buying prints and how to showcase them best in your home.
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London screenprint by Stanley Donwood
"London", screenprint by Stanley Donwood (64cm x 58cm), £288, TAG at AAF Battersea

Buy originals

Make sure you know what “limited-edition print” means before you buy: many are simply reproductions, carefully worded. Original works have a signature and edition number on the base of the paper or the mount and come with letters of authenticity. Be watchful of buying on auction sites, too.

Frame them properly

“It is a completely false economy to skimp on the framing and the preservation,” says Alan Cristea. “I always advise people against that. I say, ‘If you are buying it, look after it.’” Basic rules: the mount has to be 100 per cent cotton rag, with no acid, and the print must not touch the glass or plexiglass, because it will adhere. Non-reflective glass is expensive, but might solve any problems with reflections in light rooms. If buying a painting, the artist may prefer the work to remain unframed — if in doubt, ask the dealer.

Framers: John Jones (020 7281 5439; and Darbyshire (020 7812 1200;

Find the right space

Prints are light sensitive, so try to keep them out of direct sunlight. But again, if you spend a little extra on framing, this problem can be solved. “Nowadays you have UV-resistant glass that is so sophisticated you could practically put it in the middle of the Sahara desert,” Cristea jokes. A good tip is to rotate your pictures every so often to protect the works from being overexposed.

How will it hang?

You might want your artwork in a “Salon hang”, amid a patchwork of other framed pictures. But you might also choose to give it pride of place in a minimal hang, allowing it plenty of space to work its magic. Height partly depends on your furniture, but eye-height is an obvious rule of thumb — the Tate’s generic hanging height is for the middle of the picture to be at 62in (157.5cm) from the floor. When planning a layout of pictures, do what the galleries do and practise your arrangement at the foot of the wall before nailing them up.

The Affordable Art Fair takes place at Battersea Park on October 25-28 and Hampstead Heath on November 1-4.

Click here to read more about the 2012 Affordable Art Fair

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