Limited Edition is where there is an edition of art work prints that are restricted to a specific number of copies. These are usually inscribed with the author's signature and a sequence number, such as copy #2/100 copies which means for this particular sequence that it is number two of one hundred copies. The lower the number both the actual print number and edition, the more valuable the copy. You will sometimes see editions of 1000 for instance, the higher the edition the less the value of the print. The size and total number of prints is fixed or “limited” by the artist who supervises the printing themselves and should not create anymore.
So what is the difference between a limited edition print, a reproduction and an artists proof?
Well a signed limited edition print is a way of identifying an original fine art print from a reproduction or poster where the print run is open to be reproduced as many times as the copyright holder sees fit, this is the norm where things like music band or advertising posters usually sit but limited edition holds its value in the fact that there will only be so many of them ever available. It is also known as 'serial art' or 'a series of originals'.
Silk-screen printing and etching for instance are prints but they are original prints in that each one is created separately and often have small differences from the rest of the edition so therefore are not reproductions and can be called original artwork. The artist often plays a big part in the role of the printing process as opposed to reproductions where a print company would be employed to run off the copies in either as a large edition or open to reprinting run after run, with the image theoretically being reproduced an infinite number of times.
A limited edition is a way the artist can ensure that their work is exclusive and also increases the value of thier work. With a limited edition print the artist makes sure that only a certain number of a particular image will ever be printed. Each print is signed and numbered by hand by the artist and a certificate of authenticity which gives as much detail as possible about the print is usually also issued. The certificate is completed by hand and signed and dated by the artist. On a reproduction you will see a typed title with the artists name and a catalogue number in usually very small typeface, so its quite easy to tell the two apart.
If a print is called a Giclée it doesn’t mean it is necessarily a limited edition. Giclée is actually a printing process that uses very high-end bubble jet technology (Not the same as your standard bubble jet printier mind you!) to reproduce fine art graphics. The first giclée printing machines were produced by a graphics company called Iris Graphics some time in the 1980s; they were first used as a system to proof commercial pre-press before going to plate. However, it was noticed that the new machines had potential to be more than just proofing devices, and were then used to reproduce fine art prints.
In case you wondered you pronounce giclée (jee-clay).
Posted: Friday 12 March 2010