Art Terms

Basic art terms associated with different edition types:

  • Original: The original work of art is the actual one of a kind hand-drawn or painted work by the artist and is the most valuable of art investments.
  • Limited Edition (LE): When there is a predetermined number of fine art prints published, usually individually numbered and signed by the artist.
  • Open Edition (OE): When there is not a predetermined number of prints published, and upon the sellout of the first printing, additional prints may be published at the artist’s discretion.
  • Special Edition (SE): Similar to a limited edition, but the prints may be remarqued, have an important signature, or are specifically used for a special event; i.e. to establish a scholarship or endowment. Each print that has been designated as a special edition is signed and numbered by the artist with a “SE” written before the edition number.
  • Artist’s Proofs (AP): As fine art prints are being created, the artist or printing specialist will pull individual prints from the press sporadically during the printing run and are compared to the original work of art. This is to make sure that the prints accurately represent the quality of the original. Each print that has been designated as an Artist Proof is then signed and individually numbered by the artist with an “AP” written before the edition number.
  • Printer’s Proofs (PP): Printer’s proofs are similar to artist’s proofs. The difference is that artist’s proofs are designated during the printing run, and printer’s proofs are created while setting up the initial printing run. Printer’s proofs are used to establish the color, detail, and quality in relation to the original work of art. They are also referred to as the printer’s “set ups” and sometimes have inconsistent quality. On rare occasions, printer’s proofs may be released if they pass the artist’s inspection for quality. Each print that has been designated as a printer’s proof is then inspected, signed, and numbered by the artist with a “PP” written before the edition number.
  • Personalized Prints: An artist may inscribe a personalization to an individual on a print. This increases the personal value of the print to that person or as a family heirloom; however the resale value of the print can be diminished. An optional way to personalize a print without affecting its resale value (if resold) is to add a personalized brass plate to the framing of the print.
  • Remarqued Prints: A remarqued print has a small original drawing or painting created on it by the artist. A small quantity of remarqued prints may be issued within an edition or designated as a special edition print.

Basic art terms associated with the printing process:

  • Fine Art Prints: Fine art prints are reproductions from the original drawing or painting. They are printed on acid-free archival quality paper with fade-resistant inks. High quality acid-free framing is highly recommended. With proper care, a fine art print will last for generations. Fine art prints can be created from a variety of printing processes, such as lithographs, giclees, serigraphs, etchings, and engravings.
  • Poster: A poster may also be created from the lithographic printing process, but the image is usually accompanied with text and/or graphics. Posters generally are lower quality than fine art prints.
  • Lithographic Process: First, color separations are reproduced from the original piece of art. Every color is broken down into a mixture of (generally, but not limited to) four basic colors: cyan, yellow, magenta, and black. Color separations are a dissection of the artwork into those four colors, similar to the way that a television displays color, consisting of the overlaying of minuscule multicolored dots. The color separations are burned on to metal plates, and the plates are then attached to large rollers on a printing press. Printing presses usually require entire warehouse rooms. As paper is pulled through the rollers, the image is reconstructed on to the paper. The overlaying dots of color are so small that they can only be seen by a very strong magnifying glass.
  • Serigraph: A hand pulled serigraph, also known as a silkscreen, is created similarly to applying graphics on t-shirts. Designs for each separate color are made on individual silk mesh screens. One at a time, each color of ink is pushed through its screen on to the paper – resulting in a complete image.
  • Giclee: Giclee is a French word meaning “spraying of ink”. The image of the artwork is taken with a high-resolution camera and printed by a special ink jet printer. True colors are sprayed directly on the paper, usually either watercolor paper or canvas. The result is a high quality reproduction that is sometimes difficult to distinguish from the original. Giclee reproductions on canvas are mounted on a backing board or stretched across wooden stretcher bars, and then it can be framed without glass just like original paintings on canvas.

Caring For Your Art

Besides having your artwork framed at the gallery with museum quality materials, we have provided some other tips to help you care for and protect your artwork:


Improper handling of art prints can result in either scratches or fine creases, called thumbnails, which will greatly diminish the attractiveness and value of the print.

  • Always have clean hands when handling works of art on paper or canvas because natural body oils or dirt can cause visible damage.
  • Always use two hands when carrying an art print that is not enclosed in its packaging.
  • Never touch or drag anything across the image area.

Any combination of heat, steam, or smoke can gradually cause visible damage to art.

  • Never hang or store artwork next to a radiator, heat register, or continually used fireplace

Humidity produces mold spores – a major cause in the deterioration of any paper. Mold spores grow in excess of 70% relative humidity. High humidity also causes prints to wave or warp. A permanent level of humidity lower than 40% can dry out paper and make it brittle.

  • Never hang or store valuable artwork in damp areas with poor circulation (e.g. non-vented bathrooms)

All light fades artwork with time. The less amount of direct light, the less fading will occur. Even fluorescent light creates ultraviolet rays that can be as damaging as the sun’s rays. The optimum amount of light for illuminating artwork is 5-foot candles, roughly the equivalent of a 150-watt bulb from four to five feet away.

  • Never hang originals or prints in a place that receives direct sunshine or intense light from a fluorescent bulb.
  • Choosing conservation, or UV shielding, glass is very helpful in protecting framed art from the damaging effects of ultraviolet light, but even then, it is still recommended to not hang artwork in direct sunlight.
icn-shipping Fine art prints that are not framed should be either packaged flat on a backing board or carefully rolled in a tube during transportation. A print that is packaged flat is easier for a picture framer to work with later. Rolling a print in a cardboard tube protects artwork better while it is in transit. Leaving a print rolled up for too long will make it more difficult to lay flat again in the future. If the backing board is not acid-free, then it is advisable to not leave the artwork in its packaging for an extended amount of time. The less amount of time that an art piece is in transit, the less opportunity for damage.