What is an original print?

Seattle's Davidson Galleries defines it as follows:

The word "print" is commonly used to refer to objects in two distinct categories:

1) Original impressions transferred directly from a matrix manually generated by an artist

2) Photographic or digital reproductions of works originally executed in other media

Photo reproductions and original prints can both be produced in “limited” or “signed” editions and produced by the same processes, such as lithography or silkscreen. Shared descriptive terminology allows for confusion over the term “print.” However, there is a significant difference between the intrinsic value of an original print and a photo reproduction print.

The defining distinction for originality is the artist's intention when conceiving and executing the work. When the artist selects a specific medium to produce an image, only that medium or combination of media can be considered "original."

While some original prints are appraised for tens of thousands of dollars, photographic or digital reproductions of original artworks are not intrinsically worth much more than the cost of production (even if they are published in "limited editions" and marketed for high prices.) Unfortunately many buyers are misled by vague or inaccurate descriptions to spend significant amounts on reproduction prints that are considered by museum and print experts to have neither artistic merit nor real monetary value.

Davidson Galleries exhibits and sells original prints printed from surfaces generated by the artist and intended from the outset for that purpose. These include lithography, serigraphy, etching, engraving, mezzotint, woodcut and monotype. We do not appraise or sell reproductions.

Print Glossary

a la poupée: Plate inking technique where different colors are applied only to individual areas rather than using a separate plate for each color printed in succession. This requires enormous control to keep the colors from bleeding at edges where different colors abut.

aquatint: A "wet" technique for creating tones using the action of acid on a metal plate. The area to be treated is sprayed or sprinkled with a resin or paint particles which partially protect portions of that surface. The acid etches the areas not protected, resulting in a textured printing surface.

artist's proof: A certain number of impressions pulled outside of a numbered edition for the artist. Artist's proofs are designated on the print with the letters "AP" in pencil usually in the lower left where the edition number is located. The French term "epreuve d'artiste" is also frequently used, noted by the letters "EA." Artist's proofs have the same value as work from a numbered edition.

chine collé: A process for laminating two sheets of paper, one carrying the image information, together in the course of printing.

collograph: A printing surface built up by collaging which is then sealed to prevent ink absorption and to permit multiple impressions to be printed.

edition: A numerical designation indicating the number of impressions pulled or printed from the completed print matrix. In fraction format, the top number indicates the specific impression while the bottom number represents the total number printed.

engraving: A "dry" technique employing a tool called a burin to remove portions of the metal plate surface by incision. Those marks when inked end up carrying the image information.

etching: A "wet" technique using acid to mark (etch) the surface of a copper or zince plate where permitted by the selective removal of the protective surface covering called a ground.

mezzotint: A "dry" technique requiring extensive plate preparation using a tool called a rocker to uniformly mark the surface. Image generation comes from scraping and burnishing down the rough surface to control the range of printed tones.

monoprint: A single impression pulled from a surface which has editionable qualities but where unique applications do not produce an edition.

monotype: Image printed from a plate or surface which carry no permanent mark and transfer cannot allow for edition repetition.

state: Condition of the printing surface documented by one or more impressions reflecting changes undertaken by the artist to that surface.

woodcut: An image created by inking and printing what remains of the original surace of a piece of wood, working across the grain.

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