Of all of the aspects of printmaking, keeping adequate records has to be one of the most trying. Yet, it is also one of the most important.

Any process engineer will tell you that you cannot make a process repeatable and controllable without recording accurately what you are doing. It is hard to match ink colors without a swatch and a list of the inks that went into it. It is hard to get a good etch on a lithographic plate unless you can look back to see how similar plates were etched in the past.

The sizes that things are printed from the computer, file names, dates, etch times, voltages, currents, ink modifications – they are all variables that need to be recorded. In addition, in most states when you sell a print you need to provide a certificate of authenticity that details thing such as when the print was made, how many plates, the status of the plates, how many proofs were made, etc.

Records can be as simple as keeping a notebook, or as complicated as a computer database application. The key is to start. I am still refining my system, and the data is not as complete as I would like it to be, but I am getting there.