The medium is the process employed by the artist to create the work of art. A piece might have multiple mediums used in its creation such as “etching, aquatint, and carborundum.” Very often paintings and drawings have multiple artistic mediums and can be called “Mixed Media”.
Generally, when an artist has used more than one medium in creating an artwork. The term is usually referring to original paintings or drawings.
The margin is the space of untouched paper surrounding an impression. Sometimes the margins can be quite large around a small plate. In other instances the paper will have no margins (full bleed) which means the printed impression goes to the very edge of the paper. The term “Full Margins” indicates that the paper’s margins have not been trimmed in an way.
The Mat or Matting is a framing technique in which a piece of acid-free board is cut-out like a window and then carefully placed on top of a print. This keeps the print from touching the plexi and can also offer an aesthetic highlighting of the composition with an added fillet.
A patina is the natural change in color and hue of a work of art that has occurred over time due age and oxidization. This is usually used to describe bronze artworks, however the term is applicable to other mediums as well. A patina is not considered a flaw or imperfection, but can be an enhancing quality of the artwork. A bronze sculpture will oxidize over time, turning a sea green color which can be quite pleasant. Paper usually warms as it ages becoming more cream than bright white. Particularly when considering prints from a certain time period, overly bright white paper is an indication that the piece has been restored and possibly bleached which is not desired. Bleaching and over restoration can disrupt the stability of the inks on a print.
The plate mark is the indented impression on the damp paper made by the etched plate when passed through the press. Prints taken from wood blocks or lithographic stones seldom show impressions of this kind.
When the artist’s signature is printed along with the art image. After creating the artwork image on the plates or stones, the artist will then “sign in the stone” and then the edition is pulled. This is not the same as the handwritten signature of the artist.
A portfolio is a term used to describe a grouping of artworks that are intended as a series to be shown together. A portfolio or suite usually have a theme or defining characteristic linking them together. The term portfolio can also describes the presentation of a suite or illustrated book, in which case the prints would remain unbound and usually included in a portfolio box or cover.
A proof is usually an identical print to the regular edition, that is printed at the same time. This is known as a “Proof Aside from the Edition,” and these may or may not be hand-signed by the artist. Sometimes a proof is meant as a test to test colors as in a “Color Trial Proof”.
Designated as “P.P.”, a printer’s proof is similar to and artist proof or H.C. in that it is a proof printed aside from the regular edition. Usually the printer’s proof would have been printed for approval by the master printer which is then retained by the printer or atelier. The “P.P.” can also mean “publisher’s proof”.
A small unique drawing or painting made by the artist, usually in the margin area of one of his limited editions prints.
The state refers to the different image stages a print composition may undergo for an artist to find the exact look he or she desires. As the artist works on the plate or plates for a piece, he or she will pull proofs from time to time in order to examine condition or effect of any changes they have made. Sometimes these different stages are annotated 1st or 2nd State even in the plates themselves. The variations of the different states shows just how much time and thought process goes into one print composition.
An artist releases a suite when two or more images are published or released together. A suite can also be called a portfolio or even a series, as it refers to a grouping of pieces usually with some common corresponding theme. Print collectors look to collect a complete or unbroken suite, as these are very difficult to find and can be considered more valuable.
Tirage is a French term meaning “output.” The tirage is the complete information about the total number of prints in an edition. This includes the date and workshop where completed as well as how the total edition is broken down. As an example, the total tirage of a print could be: 1-300 + I-CL + 1-30 A.P. + 1-20 H.C.; printed in 1988 at Chromacomp in New York.
A translucent name or design molded into the paper during the manufacturing process, usually in the border area; more visible when held up to a light.