Print glossary

Glossary of Prints

The Language of Printmaking

A print, also called fine art print or limited edition print, is a work of graphic art that the artist has created as an original work of art, rather than a copy of a work in another medium. Prints are produced in a specific quantity, typically with a predetermined number of copies. To ensure the integrity and exclusivity of their prints, artists began signing and numbering each impression around the turn of the 20th century. By doing so, they could control the circulation of the prints and maintain their artistic vision. The artist determines the edition size, which represents the total number of prints to be produced from the original plate. Once the edition is complete, no more prints are made, ensuring the scarcity and uniqueness of each individual print. Limited edition prints are highly sought after by collectors who value their exclusivity and the assurance that only a limited number of identical prints exist.

In the creation of a limited edition print, the artist collaborates with a master printer who assists in the meticulous production process. The master printer works closely with the artist to translate their artistic vision onto the printing plate and ensures the highest quality reproduction of the image. The act of printing the edition is of utmost importance to the overall authenticity of a print. The skilled craftsmanship and attention to detail during the printing process contribute to the unique characteristics and aesthetic qualities of each impression. Consequently, the printing process is considered an integral part of the artistic creation, equally significant to the act of inscribing the image onto the plate.

Aquatint is an etching technique used to produce tonal areas in prints. The process involves the application of powdered rosin onto a metal plate, which is then heated to adhere the rosin particles to the surface. Subsequently, the plate is submerged in a corrosive bath, where the unprotected areas not covered by the rosin particles are eroded, creating recessed regions. Once the rosin is removed, the plate is inked, and the ink selectively collects in these uneven surfaces. Finally, damp paper is placed on the plate, and the two are passed through a press, resulting in the transfer of ink in the shape of the recessed areas. The amount of erosion determines the ink transfer during printing, with deeper recesses producing darker tonal areas.elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

An artist’s proof is a print that is identical to the numbered edition and specifically reserved for the artist. It is usually marked as “AP” (i.e. “A.P. 4/10” indicates the fourth print out of a total of ten Artist’s Proofs) and kept by the artist for their personal use or for evaluation. Alternatively, the prints can also be marked as “E.A.”(Epreuve d’Artiste).

An artist’s book is created by an artist as an artistic expression, where the book itself is considered an artwork. Artist’s books often involve unique formats, bindings, and innovative use of materials, and can include prints, text, illustrations, and other artistic elements.

A block is a solid, relief surface, commonly made of wood, linoleum, or other materials, used for relief printing techniques like woodcut or linocut. Artists carve away the areas they do not want to print, leaving the raised portions to carry ink and transfer the image onto paper.

A bon à tirer, or B.A.T., is a print that serves as a reference for the printer to replicate the desired standard in the edition. It is not included as part of the edition itself. The term “bon à tirer” translates from French as “ready to pull,” meaning that the image has undergone thorough testing and has been approved by the artist or printer as the definitive benchmark.

A bookplate is a printed label or decorative design affixed to a book’s inside cover, indicating ownership or identification. Bookplates can feature intricate designs, typography, or personalized elements, often created by artists or printmakers.

A c-print, or chromogenic print, is a photographic print made using traditional color photographic processes, where the image is exposed onto light-sensitive paper and chemically developed. C-prints offer vibrant colors and are commonly used in traditional photography.

A catalogue raisonné is a comprehensive, scholarly publication or database that documents and catalogs an artist’s complete body of work, including prints. Catalogue raisonnés provide detailed information about each artwork, such as titles, dates, techniques, and provenance.

Chine-collé is a technique commonly employed alongside processes like lithography or etching to produce a delicate backdrop for the printed image. It involves adhering a thin piece of paper onto another using a liquid adhesive and passing them through a printing press together. The term “chine” derives from the French word for “China,” which alludes to the thin Asian paper traditionally utilized in this technique, while “collé” signifies “glued.” This technique allows for the creation of intricate layered effects and adds additional visual interest to the print.

A cibachrome print is a color photographic print made using the Cibachrome process, also known as Ilfochrome. Cibachrome prints are created by exposing a light-sensitive material coated with color dyes and then processing it through a series of chemical baths. These prints are renowned for their vibrant colors and exceptional archival properties.

An artistic technique where various materials, such as paper, fabric, or found objects, are combined and glued onto a surface to create a new composition. Collage can be incorporated into printmaking processes, adding texture and depth to the printed image.

A digital archival print is made using digital technology and archival-quality materials to ensure longevity and preservation. Digital archival prints are produced with high-quality pigment inks on acid-free paper or other archival substrates, guaranteeing the longevity and color stability of the print.

Digital pigment print is another term for a print made using digital technology and archival pigment inks. These prints offer excellent color reproduction, detail, and longevity, making them a popular choice for fine art reproduction.

A modern printing technique that involves reproducing images or artwork directly from digital files onto various surfaces using inkjet or laser printers. Digital printing allows for high-quality reproductions with precise color accuracy and detail.

Drypoint is printmaking technique where the image is directly incised or scratched onto a plate, typically made of metal. The artist uses a sharp tool to create lines or textures on the plate’s surface. Ink is then applied, and the raised burrs created by the incised lines hold the ink, transferring it to the paper during printing.

An edition is a carefully controlled series of prints, produced in a limited number, that are planned for distribution by the artist, a gallery, or a publisher. Each print in the edition is considered an original artwork, as they are individually signed and numbered by the artist. The edition size is predetermined, ensuring the exclusivity and collectability of each print.

Embossing is a technique used to create a raised or depressed texture on the surface of paper or other materials. In printmaking, embossing involves pressing a plate or die onto the paper, creating a three-dimensional effect without the use of ink. Embossing adds visual and tactile interest to prints, emphasizing specific areas or creating decorative elements.

Engraving is a printmaking technique where the image is incised or engraved onto a metal plate, typically copper or zinc. The plate is inked, and the surface is wiped clean, leaving ink only in the engraved lines. The image is then transferred onto paper under pressure, resulting in fine, detailed lines.

Etching is a printmaking technique where an image is created by etching lines or textures into a metal plate, usually coated with an acid-resistant substance. The plate is then immersed in an acid bath, which eats away the exposed areas. After cleaning and inking, the plate is pressed onto paper to transfer the image.

A gelatin silver print is a black and white photographic print made using a gelatin silver process. The image is exposed onto light-sensitive paper coated with silver halide crystals, and then developed and fixed to create a permanent print. Gelatin silver prints are known for their rich tonal range and archival stability.

A giclée print is a high-quality digital print produced using inkjet technology. Giclée prints are known for their exceptional color accuracy, detail, and archival quality. They are often printed on fine art paper or canvas and are popular among artists and photographers.

Hors commerce (H.C.) is a French term meaning “out of trade” or “not for sale.” Hors Commerce prints are additional prints, often aside from the regular edition, and are reserved for the artist, publisher, or special purposes like exhibitions or promotional use.

An impression is a single print pulled from a plate or block during the printmaking process. Each impression is a unique outcome and may exhibit subtle variations due to factors such as ink application, pressure, or paper handling.

An inkjet print is made using inkjet technology, where tiny droplets of ink are precisely sprayed onto the printing surface. Inkjet prints can be produced on various substrates, including paper, canvas, or specialty materials. This printing method offers versatility, high-quality results, and the ability to reproduce a wide range of colors and details.

Intaglio is a printmaking technique where the image is incised or etched into a plate, such as copper or zinc. The plate is then inked, and the ink is wiped off the surface, leaving ink only in the recessed areas. The image is transferred onto paper under pressure, producing fine details and rich tonal values.

A leporello is a book or print format where the pages are accordion-folded, allowing for continuous unfolding and viewing of the images.

Letterpress is a relief printing technique where ink is applied to raised surfaces of a plate or type, typically made of metal or wood. The inked surface is then pressed onto paper, creating an impression. Letterpress is known for its distinctive texture and is commonly used for fine typography and book printing.

A limited edition print is produced in a limited quantity, typically with a predetermined number of copies. Limited edition prints are often numbered and signed by the artist, ensuring their exclusivity and collectability.

A linocut is a relief printing technique where the image is carved into a block of linoleum. The raised areas are inked, and the block is pressed onto paper to transfer the image. Linocut allows for bold, graphic compositions and is popular for its versatility and ease of carving.

Lithography is a printmaking technique based on the principle that oil and water repel each other. Artists draw the image on a flat stone or metal plate with greasy materials, and the plate is then inked with a roller. The ink adheres to the greasy image while being repelled by the wet areas. The image is then printed onto paper.

Mezzotint is an intaglio printmaking technique where the entire surface of the printing plate is roughened using a rocker, creating a textured surface capable of holding ink. The image is then created by selectively smoothing areas on the plate, resulting in rich tonal values and a characteristic velvety appearance.

A monotype, also called monoprint, is a unique print produced by applying ink or paint to a plate and transferring it onto paper. While the base image can be repeated, each monoprint is one-of-a-kind due to variations and additional handwork applied during the printing process.

Multiple is a term used to describe prints or artworks that are produced in multiples or editions. Multiples allow for wider distribution and accessibility of the artwork, compared to unique, one-of-a-kind pieces.

Offset printing is a commercial printing technique where the image is transferred from a plate onto a rubber blanket, and then onto paper. Offset printing is widely used for large-scale printing projects, such as books, magazines, and posters, offering fast production and consistent results. Offset lithography, often used interchangeably with the term offset printing, is an offset printing technique, in which lithographic plates are used to create the image that is transferred onto the printing surface.

Photogravure, also called heliogravure, is a printmaking technique that combines photography and intaglio processes. A photographic image is transferred onto a metal plate, which is then etched to create a range of tonal values. Ink is applied to the plate, and the image is transferred onto paper under pressure, resulting in a rich, photographic print.

A plate is a flat, rigid surface, typically made of metal, wood, or other materials, used for creating prints by various techniques. Artists incise or etch the plate to create the image, and it serves as the foundation for the printing process.

Pochoir is a hand-stenciling technique where color is applied to a print by hand using a series of stencils. Pochoir allows for precise and vibrant color application, often used in fine art prints, fashion illustration, and decorative arts.

A printer is a skilled professional who operates the printing press and oversees the technical aspects of the printing process. The printer ensures the proper setup, inking, and registration to produce high-quality prints.

Similar to an artist’s proof (A.P.), printer’s proofs are reserved for the printer and are inscribed “P.P.” They are not included in the numbered edition.

Printmaking is the process of creating prints through various techniques. Printmaking encompasses a range of methods such as etching, engraving, lithography, screen printing, and more. Artists use these techniques to express their creativity and produce multiple copies of their work.

A publisher is the individual or organization responsible for overseeing the production, distribution, and promotion of prints. Publishers collaborate with artists to bring their work to a wider audience and may handle aspects such as marketing, sales, and edition management.

Relief printing is a technique where the image is raised on a block or plate, and ink is applied to the raised surface. The inked surface is then pressed onto paper, transferring the image. Examples include woodcut, linocut, and letterpress.

Screen printing is a versatile printmaking technique where ink is forced through a mesh screen onto paper, fabric, or other materials using a squeegee. The image is transferred to the printing surface through openings in the screen, which are created by blocking certain areas with stencils or emulsion

Spit bite is a versatile printmaking technique where ink is forced through a mesh screen onto paper, fabric, or other materials using a squeegee. The image is transferred to the printing surface through openings in the screen, which are created by blocking certain areas with stencils or emulsion

Sugar lift is a technique in etching where a sugar solution mixed with ink or watercolor is applied to the plate. The sugar solution acts as a resist, creating rich, painterly effects when the plate is etched. The sugar lift method allows for a range of expressive marks and textures.

A trial proof is pulled before the edition is finalized, used to evaluate and refine the image. Trial proofs, inscribed T.P., assist the artist in making adjustments to the composition, color, or technical aspects of the printmaking process before completing the edition.

A wood cut is a relief printing technique where the image is carved into a block of wood, typically hardwood. The raised areas are inked, and the block is pressed onto paper to transfer the image. Woodcut prints often exhibit a characteristic grainy texture and can achieve bold, expressive results.

  • No products in the cart.