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Decoding Fine Art Prints: Your Ultimate Guide.

Updated: Apr 19

Investing in affordable art prints is a great way to expand your art collection. But with so many different types of prints and an array of technical terms, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. If you've ever wondered about the differences between a giclée and a lino print or the distinction between a limited edition and an open edition, we've got you covered. Get ready to dive into the world of fine art prints with our concise printmaking glossary.


wall with a variety of fine Art prints


Aquatint

An etching technique that creates a grainy, textural effect on a metal plate by using a porous ground and acid biting.


Archival

Refers to materials suitable for long-term conservation, such as acid-free, fiber-based paper and light-fast pigment inks.


Artist's Proof (AP)

The first print pulled by the artist to assess the current state of the plate during production. Artist's proofs may be identical to the standard edition and are often marked with fractions indicating the total number produced.


Collagraph

A versatile printing process where a textured plate is inked and pressed, creating unique tones and textures using various materials.


Cotton Rag

Paper made from high-quality, acid-free cotton fibers, considered archival and suitable for preserving artwork.


Drypoint

A technique that involves incising an image into a plate using a hard-pointed needle, resulting in a soft, dense line with burrs that hold ink.


Etching

A method of printmaking where a design is incised into a metal plate using acid, creating indentations that hold ink and produce the final design when pressed onto paper.


Intaglio

A family of printmaking techniques where the image is incised into a surface, and the ink is held in the recessed areas. It includes drypoint, aquatint, etching, and engraving.


Limited Edition

Prints with a predetermined number, signed and numbered by the artist, and considered more valuable than open edition prints. Once the edition is sold out, no more prints will be produced.


Lino Print (Linocut)

A technique where a design is carved into linoleum, leaving raised areas that hold ink. The inked linoleum is then pressed onto paper, creating a reversed image.


Open Edition

Prints with no predetermined limit on the number of copies that can be produced. They may or may not be signed by the artist.


Giclée Print

A high-quality digital fine-art print using pigment-based inks on archival paper, offering superior longevity compared to standard inkjet prints.


Screen Print

A printing technique using a stencil and a mesh screen to transfer ink onto paper. It can produce visible dot screen patterns and requires multiple layers for multi-colored prints.


Photographic Print

Prints produced using traditional darkroom practices or modern machines like Pegasus, Lightjet, and Lamda machines. Also known as "C-type" prints.


Printing Press

A device used to apply pressure to an inked surface or plate, transferring the image onto paper or fabric for mass production.


Works on Paper

Art created on paper using various media, including printmaking techniques, watercolours, collages, and drawings with pencil, charcoal, and pastels.



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