Art Definitions Clarified

Are you confused about the terminology of the art processes? Don’t know what a giclee or a serigraph is? Artist proof versus signed and numbered? If you don’t, you’re not alone. A few pointers can help you determine that you are getting what you want. Whether a print is a limited edition or not does matter. It determines it’s worth and whether or not it is likely to hold or appreciate in value.Limited Edition is a common term in art galleries not dealing exclusively with originals. Only so many of each edition will be made. Some publishers offer different sizes of a particular image, each with it’s own limited amount. Others offer one size only. When these are no longer available you will only be able to obtain the artwork though a dealer that still has one, a collector, or on the secondary market. The cost will usually be higher, sometimes substantially higher, depending on supply and demand. The artist’s signature as well as the number of the piece, along with the amount in the edition, e.g. 14/165 will be found toward the bottom of the artwork. A Certificate of Authenticity will be given to you with your purchase.Artist Proofs.
A percentage (usually 10%) reserved for the artist and publisher for their use. They are highly valued by collectors as they are more difficult to obtain. They will be consecutively numbered and accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity and will not be a part of the Signed and Numbered Edition. Artist Proofs almost always cost more and should be more likely to hold or increase their value. It will read AP 2/15 or whatever the numbers of your particular edition are and, of course, will have the artist’s signature.Open Edition
The number of copies made are unlimited. They usually do not have much monetary value and may or may not be of good quality. They can be paper or canvas, sometimes they have the artist’s signature.Poster
A poster is mass produced with commercial inks and are prone to fading. They can usually be purchased very inexpensively and hold little or no monetary value in most cases, however, some of the older posters have a great deal of value as they are collector’s items and need to be framed accordingly. Or if it is just simply special to you, by all means, frame it with conservation methods the same as you would any other valued piece of art. At the very least, put conservation glass on it (glass should never touch the art) to help keep it from fading.Giclee
(Zshee-clay) It comes from a French term meaning to spray. Drawing information from the original painting the printer sprays incredibly tiny amounts of color on to fine art paper or canvas. The giclee is usually more vibrant, full bodied in color and more desirable to obtain. Typically, they cost more than the standard processes but also hold their value better. Giclee is said to be as close to the original as you can get without it being one.Offset Lithography
Offset lithography is a digital process whereby the colors are taken from the original work and using the offset printing process transfers the image onto the final paper or canvas. It will be an exact match to the original.Serigraph/Silk-screening
A stencil is created for each color needed which, in turn, is adhered to a silk or nylon mesh screen. The paint (or ink) is forced through the screen onto the paper and each color must be allowed to thoroughly dry before the next color is applied. The image is almost luminous and often has a texture to it.With this information you will be able to determine what is important to you and whether or not you are getting it. Deal with reputable, authorized dealers and always buy art because you love it. If it appreciates in value then it’s an extra benefit, if not, you haven’t lost anything because you will always enjoy the artwork.By June Johnston

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