Saturday, May 3, 2008

Prints and Reproductions

A confusing issue for art buyers is the term “print.” It can be used to refer to a reproduction and to a fine art print.

A reproduction is a copy of an original piece of art. Even though a print has an artist’s signature does not mean that it is an original. The signature could have been reproduced from the original!

A fine art print is the original art. The artist will create an image on a plate or block (matrix), which will be inked. The image is then transferred to a piece of paper. These prints can be in editions as small as 1 (monoprint) and up to 250-300, although most range in the 50-125 size. Because these prints can be produced as multiples, they are frequently less expensive than paintings. The price will be based on both the artist’s reputation and the size of the edition. On occasion an artist will use a master printer to print their work. There are many reasons for this. The printing process can be physically difficult or the technical nature of a print requires a very skilled hand to bring the artist’s vision to fruition.

A new process for reproduction has further muddied the waters. Giclees (pronounced zhee-clay) are produced on very high quality ink jet printers from very high resolution images of the original artwork. Because the image is on a computer it gives the artist much greater control over the colors than any other reproduction process. This process is expensive as reproductions go, but gives buyers an in-between price point on an artist’s work without forgoing on quality. These are frequently hand signed by the artist, but are nevertheless a reproduction.There are a number of photographers and digital artists who use the giclee process to print original works. These are originals and not reproductions as the originals exist on computers until they are printed. The giclee process is perfectly suited to their mediums.

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