About Hand Made Prints

Methods of Work

An original print is a work of art. Like a painting or a sculpture, it carries a theme, message, mood or concept of an artist, and is crafted and refined by the artist alone. Original, but not solitary! Unlike a painting, an original print is a part of an edition; that is, it is one of a limited series of originals. An original print is originally a print: It is not a copy of anything else.

For a print to be an original print, these three criteria must be met, according to the Print Council of America:

  • The artist alone draws, creates, carves or engraves the master image on a printing plate. The image is original, not a photocopy of a preexisting image.

  • The print is either printed by the artist or by someone under direct supervision of the artist

  • Each impression is individually approved, signed and numbered by the artist.

Editions and Certification
For original prints, the object of production is the edition. An edition is a limited series of originals. Always produced by hand, edition sizes may vary but commonly range from 20 to 50, rarely exceeding 100. Original prints are numbered in fractional notation with the individual print number written above the edition's total number. An original print is commonly sold with an accompanying certificate of disclosure, signed by the artist, that specifies various aspects about the edition such as edition size, paper and ink used, the date of the press run and so on.

Materials and Preservation
Part of the integrity of an edition of original prints lies in the quality of the materials used. Acid-free paper with high or 100% rag content is chosen for its longevity. Good quality inks are selected for their brilliance and their color fastness capabilities. In order to best preserve their value, purchasers of original prints are urged to store or display their prints archivally, using acid free mats, archival adhesives and UV filtering glass.

The primary value of an original print, as with any other artwork, lies in the emotional and aesthetic depth of the piece and the response of those who view the work. The investment value of an original print, as is true with other art, lies in the aesthetic strength of the piece, the reputation and integrity of the artist, and market trends. Original prints of inherent artistic value usually enjoy an increase in market value over time. Rare and fine prints that have survived through the ages generally have as high a market value as any other great artwork.

Additional Notes on Printmaking
Making Color Prints: Most color prints (other than monotypes) are made with separate plates for each color. The images from these plates are then printed together to make the final colored image. Therefore if a print has eight colors, it has been printed with eight separate blocks eight separate times to make the completed image you see. An edition of 40 eight-color prints would therefore require 320 separate impressions to be made by the artist.

Methods of Work

Carving the plate
Gordon Manary

Printer at press
Cecilia Lieder

Pulling the print
Glenna Olson