COLLECTING

What is an Original Print??

An original print is an artwork made by an artist or under his/her supervision through the printmaking medium. Graphic works such as lithographs, silkscreens, etchings, etc, are considered to be “original multiples” as the finished print is the final manifestation of the artwork.

Why should I collect Original Prints??

If you are interested in collecting you should consider blue-chip original prints over paintings by unknown artists. No one has a crystal ball and will be able to tell you which artists will be valuable in the future. If you are considering an painting by an unknown artist you should assume it will be a sunk cost for you, as the probability that you have discovered the “Next Picasso” is very low. Collecting original prints allows you to acquire original artworks by museum masters at an affordable price. You can still acquire aesthetic, signed, museum quality original prints by major artists like Picasso, Chagall, and Miro for a few thousand dollars vs. millions for their paintings.

What makes a good investment??

If you are new to the art market you may be looking to find a good investment piece. To determine if an piece is a good investment you should be considering a number of factors including the: artist, artistic significance, composition, condition, rarity, signature, and provenance. 

Why should I care about the condition??

In fine art the condition is key. It doesn’t matter if you are considering original prints, drawings, sculptures, or paintings, you want pieces in EXCELLENT condition. The value of your investment will greatly depend on the condition and how well the piece has been preserved. Particularly for original prints if a piece has faded colors, acid damage, foxing, or any tears it is considered an inferior piece. 

Does it have to be signed??

There is no doubt that a hand-signed piece is going to be more valuable than an unsigned piece. However, that does not mean that an unsigned or plate-signed print is not valuable. There are numerous examples of unsigned editions by Matisse, Miro, Picasso, Renoir, and others that are cataloged and collectible. The signature is mostly important because it greatly enhances the value and investment quality of a piece. 

Does the provenance matter??

The provenance of an piece is the pedigree, or history of ownership. This is much more important with original paintings or drawings, as it can help determine the authenticity. For original prints it is nice to know the provenance but not necessary. Unless the print is coming from an extremely prestigious collection the provenance is normally not noted.

Does the edition size effect the value??

“Limited Edition” means that there was a limited printing of a specific composition. The “Edition” refers to the total number of identical prints made from the same plates or screens, such as “from the edition of 250”. Oftentimes editions are ‘signed and numbered’ which means they are numbered sequentially and hand signed by the artist. Open editions have an unknown or unlimited quantity of prints. The size of an edition often effects the market value of a particular composition. Artworks that come from low editions (50 or less) are considered more rare and can be more valuable. 

Artist Proof vs. numbered piece: which is better? ?

An Artist Proof (also annotated A.P. or Epreuve d’Artiste) is printed at the same time as the “regular” numbered edition. They are normally both hand-signed by the artist, and often the artist proof has its own numbering (Example: AP  1/5). There is virtually no difference between the two in quality or value. Likewise, the numbering of a piece has no influence on it’s market value. Factors like condition and signature are far more important to investment potential of an artwork.

Why is the authenticity so important??

The authenticity of a piece is one of the most important things to be mindful of. Particularly for original prints you want to be sure that you are buying the real deal. Everything in our inventory has been carefully vetted by our experts, and we guarantee to authenticity of every piece we sell.

What is a Catalogue Raisonné??

The catalogue raissoné is a complete, annotated catalog of the works of a particular artist. Considered as the definitive source it provides information such as: title, medium, date, size, edition size, publisher and printers. The catalogue raissoné is very helpful in determining the authenticity of a particular piece. 

PRINT MAKING TECHNIQUES

Aquatint?

An aquatint is an intaglio printing process for producing toned etchings whose finished print resembles a watercolor.  The ordinary bitten line of etching is combined with a delicate tone or tint produced by etching the copper plate with acid through a protective resist. This resist, or ground, is laid by flooding the copper plate with dissolved powdered resin, or by inserting the copper plate in a dust box. Using the dust box method, the coating of resin dust has to be fastened to the plate by heating it. From this stage on the process is similar to etching. Those parts of the design which are to be left white are protected with an acid resistant material such as varnish, or are “stopped out”, and the rest of the plate is bitten. Varying tonal effects are achieved by repeated varnishing and immersion. After preparation of the plate, the edition is pulled as would be in other etching techniques.

Carborundum?

Another name for silicon carbide, carborundum is a abrasive substance sometimes used to build up the surface of a metal plate. When the plate is pressed against dampened paper, the raised carborundum areas leave a craggy, relief impression on the paper.

Chine Collé?

A method of selectively adhering one sheet of paper to another during or after the printing process. It is frequently combined with etching or lithography. In this process the ink of the plate glues the thin paper to the substrate as the print is run through the press.

Collotype?

A collotype is a screenless photomechanical process which uses a gelatin surface in a lithographic manner. A layer of gelatin mixed with potassium chromate is poured over the surface of a zinc or glass plate which is then exposed to light – similar to a photographic process. The plate is then used in a lithographic manner by dampening it with water and applying an oil-based ink. The collotype is particularly good for reproducing a watercolor effect.

Drypoint or Drypoint Engraving?

A process of engraving upon a copper plate with a burin, scoring deeply into the plate, creating a furrow bordered by rough, upturned edges (the burr), which holds the ink. For a line engraving, the slight burr made by the burin is removed, but in drypoint engraving the burr is left. Therefore, prints taken from a drypoint engraving have a special velvety black line.

Etching?

An Intaglio print process by which print impressions are made from an etched metal plate. To make an etching a clean polished copper plate (or occasionally zinc or steel), is covered with a thin coating of acid-resisting etching ground. The drawing to be reproduced is either traced onto the blackened surface of the grounded plate, or is drawn directly onto the surface, using the burin, which exposes the metal in the drawn areas. The edges and back of the plate are then coated with an acid-resistant varnish and it is then immersed in a bath of acid which attacks the metal where it is exposed. When the lightest parts are bitten to the artist’s liking, the plate is taken out of the acid and the work stopped out with varnish. The process can then be repeated until the work is completed to the artist’s satisfaction. The ground and varnish are then removed with a solvent and the plate is then inked. Ink is applied to the entire surface and then carefully rubbed off, leaving the ink in the bitten areas. Impressions are made on damp paper, which is forced into the ink filled lines as the paper and plate are put through a pressure press.

Heliogravure?

The Heliogravure process also known as Photogravure, is a photomechanical printing process that creates an Intaglio surface. First a photographic image is transferred to a copper plate by dusting it with rosin and exposing it to light to form the composition. Once this has been done the plate is used to print the image in the same manner as an etching would be printed. Similar to an aquatint the heliogravure offers exceptional tonal range.

Hatching & Cross-Hatching?

Hatching is an engraving technique where the artist cuts multiple parallel lines very close together in the plate to give the effect of darkness or shadow. Cross-Hatching involves intersecting those lines further allowing the artist to create the effect of shadowing in a composition.

Intaglio?

Intaglio printing refers to a family of printing techniques in which the impression or image is incised into the surface of a metal plate, usually copper or zinc. The printing techniques included in the Intaglio family are: etching, engraving, drypoint, aquatint, and mezzotint. Each of the intaglio printing processes allows for various finishes in hue, tone, and texture. As such they are often combined with one another to create a composition (example: etching and aquatint). Intaglio prints are easily recognizable by the sunken impression the plate leaves in the paper made during the press. 

Linocut ?

The full term is linoleum cut. A surface printing process similar to woodcutting. The image is carved away in the linoleum, with the untouched areas being the print surface. The linoleum is then inked and paper is pressed down on the linoleum. Colors can be added by using different blocks, or altering the one block and re-inking.

Lithograph?

Lithography is a printing process based on the mutual incompatibility of grease and water. (derived from the Greek term lithos meaning stone and grapho, meaning to write.) A greasy crayon is used to draw the design on the surface of a porous stone, usually a fine-grained limestone block (referred to as a plate). More modern methods use disposable aluminum plates instead of the original limestone blocks. The stone is then thoroughly wetted and an oil based ink rolled across its surface. Where the greasy design has repelled the water, the ink will adhere. Paper is then pressed onto the stone. Each print in the edition typically requires re-wetting and re-inking the stone or plate for each color resulting in a layering effect to create depth and texture.

Mezzotint?

A mezzotint is one of the intaglio print methods using a copper or steel plate that has been roughened and then scraped smooth to make dark and light contrasts. The mezzotint allows subtle gradations of light and shade, rather than lines or cross-hatching. With a mezzotint plate the smoother parts of the surface will be lighter. 

Mixografia?

Mixografia also known as a Mixograph is a special technique for printing high-relief artworks with a three-dimensional quality. First the artist casts a copper plate from a maquette made of various materials. Then the plate is then used to press hand-made paper, creating a sculptural depth similar to a fresco or bas-relief. 

Monotype?

A monotype is a printing process in which an artist draws or paints directly on a clean featureless plate and then presses the plate to paper – producing one single and unique print. A monotype print is a completely original, one-of-a-kind artwork with no other duplicate. 

Monoprint?

Monoprint and monotype are often used interchangeably. Even though they are very similar in that they both produce a single unique print, there are differences between the two. The difference between a monotype and a monoprint is that the monoprint plate will have some permanent features on it’s surface. As an example the monoprint plate could have etched or engraved lines. Even so depending on how the monoprint plate is inked allows for the possibility of endless unique variations – each one being totally original.

Offset Lithograph?

An offset lithograph is a print technique in which an image is transferred or “offset” from metal lithograph plates to a rubber roller. The advantage of the offset technique is that it enables the damping, inking and printing itself to be done by a series of rollers which enormously speeds up the process. 

Pochoir or Stencil?

A Pochoir or Stencil is a printing technique in which the artist pushes pigments (either paint, spray-paint, or ink) through a thin cut-out sheet of material. The “stencil” refers to the incised thin sheet of material which can be anything from a piece of paper, plastic, wood or even metal. A stencil can easily be reused to repeatedly and rapidly produce the same letters, design, or image. 

Relief?

Relief is a special printing process that often creates an embossed effect on the paper. First the print impression or image is created by carving or incising the plate. The uncarved or unprepared surfaces are then inked with a roller, brayer, or other tool. The incised areas may or may not be inked and during the press the paper is pushed into the grooves embossing the paper.

Silkscreen, Screenprint, or Serigraph?

A silkscreen, screenprint, and serigraph are all printing processes which involve the use of screens to transfer ink onto a paper or canvas. First a design is drawn on the screen (at one time silk was the general material of choice, before technology provided better materials at less cost) and is either cut out (stencil) or stopped out with varnish. Ink or paint is then wiped or squeegee across the screen, and penetrates to the paper placed immediately below the screen. Different colors usually require the use of different screens, with the many colors being built up on the paper with each successive squeegee of ink or paint.

Woodcut?

One of the earliest forms of printmaking, in which the design is carved in wood, with the areas not to be printed being cut away. The block is then inked and paper is pressed down on the woodblock. Colors can be added by using different blocks, or altering the one block and re-inking.

ART TERMS

Acid-Free?

Used to describe matting, paper or storage materials that do not contain acids that can cause discoloration or deterioration to artworks. A paper’s exposure to acidic materials can deteriorate the molecular structure of the paper, causing it to change color and eventually weaken. Acid-free can also be called ‘archival’.

Archival?

Archival is a term used to describe mostly storage and framing materials that are free of acids that can cause discoloration or deterioration to artworks. The purpose of using archival materials and handling practices is to preserve the artwork’s condition.

After Piece?

An after piece is done in the style of a particular artist by someone other than that artist, usually a master printer. These are typically printed under the supervision and approval of the artist and can be hand-signed by the artist and quite valuable.

Artist Proof?

Often designated “AP”, the artist proofs are a small portion of printed impressions aside from the regular edition. The artists proofs are printed in a small number between 5 and 25 and can also be numbered and described in the catalogue raisonné. The artist proofs were typically retained by the artist or given as gifts to collaborators.  At one time, the artist’s proofs were given to the artist usually as payment for signing the edition.

Bon a Tirer?

The Bon a Tirer, which translates as “Good to Print” is the final proof before the regular edition is printed. Annotated “B.A.T.” this print can sometimes have notes from the artist to the printers, and can be a window into the artistic process of printmaking.

Chop Mark?

An insignia of the printer or publisher, usually a small embossed seal of the printer’s name and logo. Most often visible in the lower right or lower left near the edge of the paper.

Diptych?

A work of art composed of two separate pieces, usually displayed together side by side, producing one continuous image.

Fading?

If a print or artwork is exposed to UV light the colored inks can break-down over time causing the composition to fade. A faded piece will be substantially less valuable, and by many collector’s standards is not worth anything because of the damage. You can protect your original prints from sun exposure by framing them with UV protective plexi-glass and keeping them away from harsh direct sunlight.

Foxing?

Foxing or Fox marks are small brown or grey spots on the paper of a print caused by micro-organisms or mold. This is a kind of damage that occurs when a piece is exposed to humidity under stagnant conditions. This is typically found in prints that have not been framed using archival conservation standards. It is usually possible to repair this damage with a good conservator.

Frontispiece?

In print collecting, the Frontispiece refers to the first piece or a title page of a livres d’artiste (illustrated book) or portfolio.

Gouache?

French term meaning “opaque watercolor”. A medium in which watercolors are made opaque by the addition of white pigment or sizing. Unlike watercolors, gouache does not allow the whiteness of the paper to show through the paint.

Hors de Commerce ?

This is a French term meaning ‘outside of business or not for commerce.’ Often abbreviated as “H.C.” this refers to a portion of a limited edition that is not intended for sale. The H.C. is very similar to a Printer’s Proof or Artist Proof  in that there are usually a set number of H.C. prints made aside from the regular numbered edition. Prints designated H.C. were often given to the project collaborators as a form of appreciation or partial payment.

Impression?

An impression is any print pulled from a printing block, plate or stone. The term is often used when describing the quality of the pull or printing. A “strong” impression indicates the printing was well done and the print has bold colors or rich blacks.

Japon Paper?

Japon paper is a kind of high quality Japanese paper used in printmaking with a beautiful silky quality. Japon paper is extremely resistant and is used for fine impressions. Japon paper is made of long natural fibers which give the paper a creamy almost cloudy characteristic.

Livres d'Artiste?

Livres d’Artiste is a French term that translates to “Artist’s Book”, also known as “Illustrated Books”. An Illustrated Book is a limited edition portfolio or series of prints accompanying a text by a poet or writer. Usually an Illustrated Book would have been printed like a book, but left unbound portfolio style. This explains why many original prints are double pages with text on the accompanying page.  There are a number of Livres d’Artiste portfolios that were collaborations between multiple artists and writers, some even published for notable art journals including Verve and Derriere le Miroir.

Medium?

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”.

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.

Margin?

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.

Matting?

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.

Patina?

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.

Plate Mark?

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.

Plate Signed?

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.

Portfolio ?

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.

Proof?

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”.

Printer's 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”.

Remarque?

A small unique drawing or painting made by the artist, usually in the margin area of one of his limited editions prints.

State?

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.

Suite?

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?

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.

Watermark?

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.