What Is Original Art?

Originality is a subject raised frequently in the art world, but what exactly does it mean? What does it take to make or buy unique or original artwork, and are they the same thing? This article will explore the meaning of original art, how to buy it and why it’s so important.

Original Art Definition

The classification of ‘original art’ can be applied to any artwork considered to be the first authentic example of an artist’s piece. An original artwork would, for example, be the first version of a painting an artist creates, not any subsequent prints, reproductions, or imitations of the artwork. 

The term original art can be applied to the fine visual arts, such as painting, sculpture, and photography. But it may also apply to the first productions of performance work or other kinds of media. 

what is original art sculpture david kracovThe term ‘original art’ may also be used interchangeably with the term ‘unique art’ to refer to something that is the first of its kind preceding all others. Original artists are often those who introduce new or unique ideas and styles to the world, changing the art world thereafter. 

Many art critics would argue that it has become harder and harder to be completely original in our contemporary world. Some ideas and artistic techniques may not be entirely new, but an artist can still reinterpret them in fresh and unique ways.

What Is Considered Original Artwork?

At its essence, original artwork is the art that is produced by an artist’s hand. This definition excludes mechanical or digital copies, prints, and other reproductions. However, fraudulent copies can also be recreated by hand, so an original must be produced by hand by the original, authentic artist. 

Some academics would argue that art painted or drawn in a life drawing class is not original because many artists are drawing the same scene. Drawing from a photograph, reproducing a photo taken by another artist, or recreating a painting or magazine picture, is not considered original artwork. 

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However, pop art artists who use collage or repurpose animations or iconography into their artworks are considered original. Therefore, the semantics of precisely what can be considered original artwork is open to debate and interpretation.

What Makes Art Original?

If you’re having artwork assessed and valued, you may need to prove the originality of the artwork. Several factors should be evaluated when determining if the artwork is both original and unique. Ask yourself these questions when initially assessing an artwork’s originality.

  • Is the artwork an original idea or a personal expression?
  • Did the artist create this idea or come up with these thoughts themself?
  • Has the artist copied a piece from any other artist, be they dead or alive?
  • Does the artwork show a thought pattern or development of a theme?
  • Is the work true to the artist’s style, or does it show the natural development and progression from their earlier style?

How Do You Know if Art Is Original?

If the originality or authenticity of an artwork is in doubt, then an evaluator may look for technical signs that prove it is an original piece. A signature is an obvious sign of authenticity, but there are many subtler signs. 

what is original art painting angelo accardiFor example, older artworks can be attributed to specific periods based on the materials used at the time of creation and the condition of an artwork that is older. This is how art experts can determine if you’ve found an original 100-year-old Monet painting – or if a newly made replica is duping you. 

If you’re trying to assess whether the artwork is original yourself, you can look at the feel and technique of the artwork. Look at the depth and layers of paint that an artist used to achieve the desired color and the brightness of the colors, or lack thereof. Older artists had less advanced materials to paint with, and they had to mix colors to get different shades. 

It was also common for painters of previous generations to rework the same canvas, building heavy paint layers. You can also look at the front and back of the piece and the canvas frame. There are likely to be signs of patina on older artworks. This patina might be dirt or dust of the ages, cracks, or other textures.

Authenticating high-value fine art is a skill that the average art collector or enthusiast won’t have. If you’re making a significant art investment, you should get a Certificate of Authenticity and an appraisal from a trusted expert.what is original art sculpture f & g

How to Create Original Art

All artists strive to create original artwork, and in the modern-day and age, it may feel like an impossible task. Unless an artist lives in a bubble, they will have been exposed, influenced, and likely been taught about the great artists and artworks before them. The battle against the internal and external voices that say “it’s already been done” is something artists and creatives will always be dealing with.  

If you want to create original art, you should persevere and create personal, meaningful, and special work. This will make your work original because it is your own unique form of self-expression. 

Does Art Have to Be Original?

Art does not have to be original, and many artists will naturally be influenced by the works of other artists or designers. Some forms of artwork are deliberately pastiche or reinterpretations of the work of other artists.

Many people may also want to buy and enjoy artworks where it is simply not possible to buy the original. In this situation, people may collect prints or limited editions of artworks. 

Is Originality Important in Art?

Originality is vital in fine art, particularly if you’re looking to buy art as an investment. However, many people enjoy the art of a particular style, even if it is not groundbreaking or Avante-Garde. 

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But some originality is vital to keeping the art world fresh and exciting. The artworks that usually have the most cultural significance are original works in both their ideas or techniques. Buying the original version of these artworks is also essential if you’re a serious collector. These original artworks will be more significant for both investors, collectors, and educators, making them more worthwhile for exhibits in museums or increasing their collector value.

Why Buy Original Art?

Original art is praised, valued, collected, and marketed differently from replicas or prints. Unlike reproductions, original art is prized and desired by physical and online galleries, collectors, art investors, and museums. 

There can only be one version of an original piece making it rare, and galleries usually have only original art for sale. For this reason, original art will always accumulate more value than replicas. If you want to buy art as a serious collector or art investor, you should always buy original art.


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