For most original prints, (the exception being monotypes) the intent is to create an edition. Members of the edition should ideally be nearly identical, although since these are hand processes, some minor variations are inevitable. The size of the edition is strictly controled and in many jurisdictions the details of the edition must be documented for the buyer. Some printmakers will create open editons where the number of prints in the edition is unlimited, but this is unusual. After printing the edition, the plates may be filed or one or more of them may be canceled by defacing them in some fashion to ensure that they may not be used again, thus ensuring the limited nature of the edition. The plates used to create an editon may reasonably be used to create other prints with radically different color schemes, modified in some significant fashion to create a new image or combined with other plates again to create a new unique image.
The ‘rules’ for numbering an edition are complex and not very standardized. Here are the ones that I use.
- All of the prints in the edition are signed by me (in pencil) in the lower right corner, just below the image.
- If the print has a title, that will be in the lower left corner, just below the image.
- The proof is numbered in the center, just below the image. 1/5 indicates that this is proof 1 of an edition of 5. The number is arbitrary and does not indicate the order in which the proofs were pulled
- A proof labeled A/P is an artist’s proof. There may be several of these, but it will be a small number relative to the size of the edition. Artist’s Proofs are not counted in the size of the edition.
- A proof labeled “state” is a trial proof. The plate (or plates) were subsequently modified and/or ink colors changed before an edition was created. I do not typically title state proofs
As a rule, prints are printed on high quality, archival papers (acid free, 100% cotton rag). However the other rule is that rules are often broken so prints are sometimes made on canvas, silk, or plastic. I currently produce work using relief, intaglio and lithography processes. I print all my own work.