Do artists need a certificate of authenticity?

A Google of ‘Henri Matisse print’ returns 10,700,000 results, mostly from retailers pedaling knock-off reproductions. This is a bittersweet reality of our times, where art is accessible to anyone. Matisse may be rolling in his grave (or revelling in the upsurge of his work), but for independent and high-profile artists alike, forgery is a huge liability to both their credibility and livelihood.

A Certificate of Authenticity (COA) is commonplace in print production and photography, and the simplest way to determine a work’s provenance. In addition to the work itself, the COA serves as a record of authenticity and sale and is therefore inextricably linked to perceptions of value. 


Simply put, a COA indicates that a work is worth investing in. 


With this in mind, it’s essential for high-profile artists and those producing editions to affix a COA to their work, especially if they’re planning to sell in auction or through an agent or gallery. No proof of authenticity, no money.  


Format Framing - Do artists need a certificate of authenticity


Jeffrey Loria, a US art dealer, says ‘the real value of art is not always revealed by the price set upon it’. Beyond the price itself, there are multiple indicators that culminate in the perception of value —  from the print production, content of the artwork, number of editions, artist notoriety and, of course, authenticity which is most easily identified with a COA.   


So what if you’re just starting out? If you’re producing editions, even at a small scale, a COA is great to future proof. For one, it’s a clear indicator of quality, enhancing the perception of your work in the eyes of potential buyers. But secondly, you never know when unexpected PR, a social media mention or gallery inclusion may propel you into success as a commercially valued artist. 


At Format we offer COAs to new and established artists producing editions. In addition to museum quality giclée printing and custom framing directly to their clients, we adhere a signed, numbered and sealed certificate to the back of the frame. This ensures that edition numbers and signatures don’t obstruct the artwork itself, especially when printing full bleed, and is an alternative to signing work in-person, allowing us to dropship directly to your clients (even if shooting abroad… or holidaying). 


Format Framing - Do artists need a certificate of authenticity


We work closely with artists to ensure the COA process is streamlined so they can continue to create their art, while we work in the back-end to produce and distribute it to their clients. This includes the option to personally pre-sign certificates. The design of the COA is also considered, with embossing and a holographic seal that both enhances the perception of value and prevents potential forgery of the COA itself. 


Whether you’re new to printing editions or an established artist, a COA is one of the artist-exclusive services that we offer to streamline your processes and imbue a sense of quality in every print. 


Speak with us to explore our printing, framing and drop-shipping options designed just for artists.