Operating a commercial gallery in which we carry original works and high quality reproductions, we are invariably asked a number of questions regarding the differences in print processes vs. original works, and how those differences affect price, desirability and rarity.
Printmaking: Among the many various art-making media, printmaking is one of the oldest and because of the myriad variations possible, the least understood. Some of the more commonly used media are etching, and all of the variations associated with that process, woodblock printing, and lithography. The common factor in these methods is that the resulting prints are artist-produced. The artist uses such methods with the freedom that artistic expression allows, and each image is considered an original work of art.
Numbered Prints: Traditionally, the numbering of prints had two purposes. The first was so that the viewer could easily discern how many prints were originally made (the edition), and the subsequent rarity of the print they were viewing. Usually written on the front of the paper, 2/5 meant that this particular print was the second print pulled in a edition of 5. The second reason was that as prints in the edition were made, the block or metal plate would degrade, allowing for less sharp lines and imagery. Lower numbers were more desirable because it usually meant sharper imagery. 1/25 was usually a more desirable print than 25/25.
Bon a Tirer (B.A.T.): Printer's proof of a reproduction, usually extremely rare because they were considered working copies and not kept for resale.
Artist's Proof (AP): The artist's proof, usually produced in low number for the artist to sign off on color and registration before the print run is executed.
Print Reproductions: There are a number of methods for artistic reproduction that have been developed over the years. Many reproductions are numbered and signed by the original artist, or may be produced posthumously. The print run may include several B.A.T. prints, Artist's Proofs and the print run. The number of prints produced as B.A.T., AP and the print run can vary greatly. A typical run could include 1-2 B.A.T.s, 20 Artist's Proofs, and up to 300 in the print run, but is usually determined by the original artist.
Open edition: Reproductions that are not numbered and could have an endless number reproduced.
Collotype: A print reproduction of an original work of art that executes color separations using a glass or metal plate. The advantage of the Collotype is that the production of an image lacks the usual separation by dots, creating a more fluid, color-saturated image.
Offset Lithography: A photo-mechanical method of reproduction that allows for little to no variance in color or registration in the print run. It is often used for inexpensive, open edition and large run posters and prints.
Inkjet printing: Today's inkjet printing methods rival the quality and consistency of any method devised to date. Inkjet printing is used by artists to print original works of art and to make high quality reproductions of works on paper and canvas. The versatility of this process allows reproduction on a number of surfaces, from archival paper and canvas to various metals and wood. Much like the desktop version you may have in your home, the sophisticated and larger format printers allow for large, high-quality archival prints.
Giclee prints: Giclee is often used as a generic term for all high quality inkjet prints. In fact, there are a number of brand names for inkjet prints. The main characteristics that these prints have in common are 1.colorfastness of the ink over time 2. the bonding of ink droplets to the paper 3. the small size and closeness of the dots, making the color appear denser and more saturated.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Are prints a good investment? Though Andrew Wyeth prints have tended to go up in value since his death in 2009, the fact is that all art and art prints rise and fall in the art market. The best bet is to always buy art that you love and what you want to live with, then your investment is always worth it.
Do low numbers in a limited edition really make a difference? Unlike earlier methods of hand-pulled prints, the quality in today's prints tend to not vary greatly over the course of a print run. But, the lower the number, the more desirable the print, because those are prints usually held by the artist. Even more desirable, because of their rarity, are Artists' Proofs and B.A.T. prints, because those usually come directly from the artists' collections.
Why are some prints more expensive than others? Prices reflect the image used and rarity of the piece. Andrew Wyeth signed many prints in his lifetime, but after his death, signed prints are becoming harder to find. All of our signed prints by Andrew Wyeth come directly from the Wyeth family archive, so they are from his collection. Jamie Wyeth is still painting and producing high quality reproductions, but many that we carry are out of print or near impossible to find on the retail market. For instance a B.A.T. 1/2, might be worth considerably more than the same image numbered 35/100.
How should I care for my print? All of our prints are framed by high quality framers who only use museum quality archival materials and ultraviolet filtered plexiglass. If you have your print framed, find a framer who only uses archival materials and seals the frame to the backing board to help prevent moisture build-up within the frame. Always hang your print away from direct sunlight and heat sources.
Do you ship? Yes, we will ship anywhere in the US. We ship unframed works in a mailing tube anywhere in the US for $25. Framed works are shipped at cost, which include packing and shipping fees. Shipping costs for framed works vary from piece to piece according to size and shipping distance from Port Clyde, Maine.