Glossary of Art Terms

AP or Artist's Proof:

As part of the regular numbered edition, the artist usually selects a specific number of identical proofs for either his/her own use, for a museum, or for other purposes.  These proofs may be designated as artist's proof (AP, EA in French, or PA in Spanish), printers' proofs (PP) or hors d'commerce (HC) images.  A smaller number of artist's proofs are produced for each edition.  Many collectors try to obtain AP's for a more exclusive art collection.  Depending on the artist, the AP's sometimes cost more than the regular edition prints as there is a much smaller amount available.  Generally speaking, the AP edition is usually 10% of the total edition size - thus a regular edition size of 500 pieces would have an Artist Proof edition size of only 50 pieces.


Certificates of Authenticity:

These are separate sheets of paper included with every limited edition print that serves to authenticate the work for insurance and valuation purposes. 


Deckled Edge:

Some editions are produced with deckled edges, which means the print has been carefully torn along all of the edges, to create a hand-crafted look.  Sometimes deckled prints are floated over risers behind the print so that it appears to float in the frame behind the glass.  Decking is done only by hand, with a straight edge guide to ensure that the image is not torn too greatly.



A Giclee (pronounced zhee-CLAY) is an Irin-Generated reproduction print, and is the most accurate form of printing available.  Many artists favor this medium, as it is the closest to the original art as printing will allow.  Giclee can be printed on any medium, from rice paper to canvas, which gives it a great amount of versatility.  The giclee are produced in small editions, usually around 350.  Prices are variable, but affordable for even the beginning collector.

Iris Giclee printing is one of the best modern reproductions techniques.  The accuracy and richness of color are nearly indistinguishable from the original work of art.

This patented technology uses microscopically fine drops of ink to create the image.  The process works much like an inkjet color printer, only on a much finer scale.  On a giclee, the printed drops are about the size of a red blood cell, which are much too small to see with the naked eye.  This process produces near continuous tone and a richer color palette than other methods, like four-color process lithography.

Museums around the world have used reproduction giclees in exhibits, as stand-ins for the original while it is out for cleaning or restoration.


Limited Edition:

A predetermined number of impressions are produced from a master plate, stone, or another method, after which no more impressions are allowed.  The edition size is the sum of all numbered pieces and artist's proofs.



As a printing process lithography is probably the most unrestricted. It produces tones ranging from intense black to the most delicate gray as well as a full range of colors. It also simulates with equal facility the effects of pencil, pen, crayon, or brush drawing. For the commercial reproduction of artworks, photolithography has played an increasingly important role. In this process, a photographic negative is exposed to light over a gelatin-covered paper. Wherever the light does not strike the gelatin, the latter remains soluble while the other parts are rendered insoluble. When the soluble portions are washed away, the pattern to be printed can be inked and transferred to a plate. Color lithography requires as many plates as the number of colors employed. Several hundred fine proofs can be taken from one plate. The commercial printing applications of the lithographic process are vast in scope and almost unlimited in number.


Mixed Media Lithographs:

A mixed media print is a combination of a serigraph and an offset lithograph.  This type of printing is known for its three-dimensional quality and less expensive price tag.  The editions are approximately 1000 to 1800 pieces.



Originals are painted utilizing acrylic, oil, airbrush, watercolor paints, or various other kinds of media which are hand-brushed onto the canvas.  They will generally cost the most money, but the payoff is the one-of-a-kind value.  All limited editions and even posters must start out as an original, but not every original is created into an edition.



Inexpensive offset prints primarily for commemorative purposes.  


Posthumous Edition:

Any edition released after the death of the artist.


The Rarity Factor:

As a general rule, the highest quality medium carries with it the highest rarity factor.  The variation and the number of pieces, the total size of the edition, and the printing technique or process are all directly related to the cost and valuation of the artwork.  Some works sell out very quickly, creating a demand for the piece that can inflate the value very quickly.  As more people buy it, supply decreases while demand grows, which increases the rarity and value.



A sketch originally made by the artist on the margin of his plate to test his tools.  Because such remarques were originally intended to be scraped or burnished away before the final edition of the plate is printed, a print with a remarque is often called a remarque proof.  In the nineteenth century, such remarques came to be so valued that they were often retained as part of the finished print.  The subjects of these little drawings typically relate in some way to the larger image.  Can also indicate hand-embellishment of a print after production.



These are very special prints as they are each hand-pulled and hand-detailed.  Each edition takes three to four months to produce.  Each color to be printed requires a plate that is the screen itself painted by hand with tusche, a substance soluble to solvent.  The remaining area of the screen in blocked out with glue (which is unaffected by solvent).  After the tusche has been washed out with solvent, the screen is ready to print one color.  Paper is placed, within registration marks, under the screen.  Paint, placed on the screen, is forced by a squeegee pushed from one end of the screen to the other through the screen onto the paper.  The operation is repeated for each color.  Each color is mixed prior to each run.  the process is repeated for the total number of prints in the edition.  The edition size is generally about 500 total impressions, 250 to 400 impressions are printed on a white archived paper and the remaining 50 to 150 are on special black Chait Noir papers.  An edition of serigraphs (like any other graphic medium) additionally includes Artist's Proofs (usually 10% of the edition), which help obtain the right registration, the correct color, the best paint consistency, and all the other qualities that create fine graphic art.  For select images, a serigraph canvas version is produced.  These limited editions mirror the originals so accurately that is it difficult to tell the difference between the serigraph and hand-detailed.  Each edition takes three to four months to produce.


Signed and Numbered:

In a limited edition, the artist writes his/her signature and a number on the bottom of the print.  The number appears as a fraction, such as 10/75.  This indicates that the work is the 10th print signed in this edition of 75 prints.


Stretched Canvas:

Also known as "Gallery Wrapped". In this process, the image is printed directly onto the canvas.  In all fine art limited editions, the canvas version is generally much more expensive because it is a closer medium to the original oil.  This product matches the original painting in both the look and feel.  The sides are painted as well.  No framing is needed.  Simply take it out of the box and hang it up.