Sometimes you might encounter pictures that are sold as ‘prints’ and even ‘limited edition prints’. These are, in fact, photographic reproductions of an original artwork – good quality posters generated by an inkjet printer. How to make a clear distinction between them?
An original print is produced – always by hand – from a surface on which the artist has worked – a stone, wood block or copper plate, using one (or more) printmaking techniques. Thus, the image is created by the artist as a print from an outset. The application of colour and the amount of pressure that is applied on each print is slightly different, therefore there will be subtle differences between the prints. By doing so, each single print is an original piece of art. An original print is by definition a limited edition since the plate or block used to make the print – simply wears away after a number of uses. After the edition is made, the surface is usually destroyed.
A reproduction, known by different names: poster, fine art print, or giclee print is a copy, of a painting or of an original print, produced by a mechanical process in which the work is photographed and then printed on a commercial printing press. Reproductions are often signed and numbered as if they were artist’s original prints and some are even offered as ‘signed limited edition prints’ when sometimes even the signature is photographically reproduced. Applying the term ‘limited edition’ to reproductions is misleading, since the first print in an edition is identical to the last as you can continue printing identical images indefinitely.