A Glossary of Commonly Used Art Terms
To help you get a better understanding of some of the jargon used in the art business, I have put together a glossary of some definitions which you might find helpful.
Artist Proof. A numbered print which is not part of the limited edition. Usually these prints are signed "Artist Proof" or "AP" with the generally accepted edition size not to exceed ten percent of the regular limited edition size. (ie: an edition of 500 would have 50 artist proofs.) With modern printing, artists proofs are not better quality prints than the regular edition, however they are desirable to many serious collectors in that there are fewer signed in this way. Many artist proofs are remarqued to make them even more valuable.
Commission. To order an original work of art from the artist
Dry Mount. A framing method in which a print is glued to a stiff backboard such as foam core, with a heat activated dry adhesive. This method is not recommended for a limited edition print of any value, however if exposed to constant extreme temperature change and humidity such as in a bathroom or at the beach, it can be a way of keeping the artwork from buckling.
Gicleé. A Gicleé (zee-clay) is a coined art term. It is a French word which means to spit or spray. Gicleé reproductions are actually produced with a high quality ink jet process.
Illustration. A general term used for a drawing or an original work of art.
Image Size. The size of the work reproduced on a print, not the overall paper size.
Edition. Number of prints made from an original. This number generally does not include any artist proofs or any special editions.
Limited Edition. The number of prints made from an original has been restricted to a certain number. This number would appear on each printed piece as such; 50/500; number fifty out of five hundred prints.
Lithograph. This term describes general offset printing. This process is used by most print publishers today. The original painting is photographed and the image is burned into four plates for a full color printing process. The ink comes from a roller on a printing press. High quality lithographs use a very fine dot screen on acid free paper with fade resistant inks.
Mass Marketed Art. (ie: Famous Artist Galleries, Famous Art Auctions, unbelievably cheap art - like $19. - $49. for a "couch size" painting) This is usually assembly -line, mass produced art from underdeveloped third world countries. Many people may work on each painting; one may do skies, another trees and another buildings etc., or a single worker may produce many pieces, duplicating the same painting over and over again. This art is usually poorly done copies of currently popular styles, color combinations and art trends.
Matted Size. The overall size of the mat which contains a print or original, ready for a frame.
Numbered. A numbered print is designed to show the limit or size of a print edition. The number is generally placed over the size of the edition. For example 12/500, indicates that the print is number twelve out of an edition of 500. Lower numbers used to mean a sharper image, but with modern printing, the last print should be as sharp as the first "off the press".
Open Edition. The print produced has an unlimited size. The print may or may not be signed by the artist. An unsigned, unnumbered print is basically just a poster.
Original. Buying an original means you have the only one. It is the actual painting or work of art done by the artist. Most times, no reproductions are made of a painting. When a print has been made, the original painting is what was photographed for the reproduction. This makes the original to a limited edition print more valuable in that the piece becomes well known and more appreciated. Usually the original is larger than the print.
Overall Print Size. The actual size of a limited edition print - the image plus the margins.
Publisher. The printer and marketing company producing and distributing limited edition prints. At this time I am self-published.
Remarque. A small original sketch done by the artist, often outside the actual image of the print. It may be in pencil, watercolor or pen and ink. A remarqued print is more desirable to many serious art collectors. A remarque adds value to a print in that it then becomes one of a kind with the addition of the original artwork by the artist.
Reproof. A reproof may mean several different things, depending on what the artist intented to say. Some possibilities are: 1. that an original piece has been reworked so as to eliminate what was considered to be faulty. 2. a new negative has been made 3. a work of art has been touched up (perhaps because the piece was damaged or peeling due to age) 4. a copy has been made from an original ("a reproofed copy").
Signature. Sometimes refers to the signature on the plate itself, but is generally the artist's actual signature on the print after printing.
Signed and Numbered. Refers to an artist's signature (generally in pencil) and the numbering of the edition.
Signed Only. The print is signed by the artist only. It is not numbered and is sometimes referred to as an "open edition".
Sold Out. A limited edition print is no longer available at issue price and is being sold at secondary market prices.
Watercolor. An original painting done with water-soluble pigments and water on paper or illustration board.