Print Making Techniques

Giclée or Iris - A computerized reproduction technique in which the image and topography are generated from a digital file and printed by a special ink jet printer, using ink, acrylic or oil paints. Giclée printing offers one of the highest degree of accuracy and richness of color available in any reproduction techniques and is therefor considered to be the most highly valued next to the original.  As with all types of prints, value of the same technique of the print can vary greatly dependant on whether the image is transferred onto canvas or paper.

Lithography - Printing technique using a planographic process in which prints are pulled on a special press from a flat stone or metal surface that has been chemically sensitized so that ink sticks only to the design areas and is repelled by the non-image areas. Lithography was invented in 1798 in Germany by Alois Senefelder.   

Offset Lithography - A special photo-mechanical technique in which the image to be printed is transferred to the negative plates and printed onto paper.  Offset lithography is very well adapted  to color  printing.  

Serigraphy (Silk-screen) - A printing technique that makes use of a squeegee to force ink directly onto a piece of paper or canvas through a stencil creating an image on a screen of silk or other fine fabric with an impermeable substance. Serigraphy differs from most other printing in that its color areas are paint films rather than printing ink stains.

Seriolitograph -  A relatively new method of print made using a combination of serigraphy and lithograph that until recently was used exclusively by Park West Galleries.

Mixed Media -  Refers to an artwork in the making of which more than one medium has been employed. When creating a painted  work.  Using mixed media creates many interesting effects can be achieved. Often, found objects are used in conjunction with traditional artist media, such as paints and graphite, to express a meaning in the everyday life. In this manner, many different elements of art become more flexible than with traditional artist media.

Etching - Printing technique in which a metal plate is first covered with an acid-resistant material, then worked with an etching needle to create an intaglio image. The exposed metal is eaten away in an acid bath, creating depressed lines that are later inked or tinted for print. 

Common Art Print Terms

Impression - Fine art made by any printing stamping process.  

Limited Edition - Set of identical prints numbered in succession and signed by the artist. The total number of prints if fixed or "limited" by the artist who supervises the printing. All additional prints have been destroyed.

Open Edition - A series of prints or objects in an art edition that has an unlimited number of copies.                                                                                                                                           
Original Print - One-of-a-kind print in which the artist personally conceived the image, created the master plates and executed the entire printing process.


Print Proof Types    

Proofs are prints authorized by the artist in addition to the limited signed and numbered edition. The total size of an art edition consists of the signed and numbered prints plus all outstanding proofs. If a set of proofs consists of more than one print, numbers are inscribed to indicate the number of the prints within the total number of the particular type of proof, (e.g., AP 5/20 means the fifth print in a set of twenty identical prints authorized as artist proofs). Proofs are generally signed by the artist as validation of the prints. 


Artist's Proof - Print intended for the artist's personal use. It is common practice to reserve approximately ten percent of an edition as artist's proofs, although this figure can be higher. The artist's proof is sometimes referred to by it's French épreuve d'artist (abbreviation E.A.). Artist's proofs can be distinguished by the abbreviation AP or E.A., commonly on the lower left of the work.

Hors d'Commerce Proof - Print identical to the edition print intended to be used as samples to show to dealers and galleries. Hors d'Commerce (abbreviated to H.C.) proofs may or may not be signed by the artist.

Printer's Proof - Print retained by the printer as a reference. Artists often sign these prints as a gesture of appreciation.

Gallery Proof - Gallery proofs are similar to Artist’s Proof in that they are a subset of a limited edition. These items, however, are intended to tour with or without the artist to galleries and exhibits to promote the artist and the limited edition. They are typically marked GP or G/P to indicate that they are gallery proofs. They are not usually sold until after the rest of the edition has sold out. This fact, along with their small number, typically just in the single digits, result in a much higher price tag for these items: as much as 50% higher than the regular signed and numbered prints. 

Toujour Unique - A new creation of limited edition of art using a substrate or element that is unique and one of a kind in each offering. The actual reproduction contains variables and unique characteristics virtually making the work "one of a kind". It is an art printing process that is extremely unique to the art culture at this time. The inks are ecofriendly and cured by ultra violet light. It has been printed and cured directly onto the medium, which is completely different from what you may have seen. A Toujour reproduction is a one of a kind, unique piece of art.


Abbreviations Used in Art


Del - (Latin, delineavit) He (she) drew it. Generally inscribed next to the artist's signature.

E.A. - (French, épreuve d'artist) An artist's proof (see definition)

Exc or Imp - (Latin, excudit) He(she) executed it. The meaning is synonymous with (Latin, impressit) he(she) printed it.

HC - (French, Hors d'Commerce) Prints from an edition intended to be used as samples to show to dealers and galleries.

Inc. or Sculp - (Latin, incidit) He(she) cut it. The meaning is synonymous with (Latin, impressit) he(she) carved it. These abbreviations refer to the individuals who engraved the master plate.

Inv. or Invent - (Latin, invenit) He(she) designed it. Generally inscribed next to the artist's signature.

Lith. or Litho -  "Lithographed By".  Usually follows the name of the printer who did the lithograph.

Pinx. - (Latin, pinxit) He(she) painted it. Generally inscribed next to the artist's signature.