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Art Jargon


From terminology to printing techniques, we aim to help you learn and understand the words you'll come across whilst building your own art collection :)
 
JARGON
 
CERTIFICATE OF AUTHENTICITY (COA)
A Certificate of Authenticity is usually provided with each limited edition print. It is a guarantee from the artist and the publisher that the piece is one from the official edition and the certificate will also state the number of the print and the size of the edition. Traditionally the advice was to keep the certificates separately from the prints, to prove ownership in case of theft. In practice many people keep the certificate attached to the back of the print itself to save it from being lost.
 
DECKLED EDGE
An uneven edge to paper prints, often featured when a paper print is float mounted.
 
DIGITAL MANIPULATION
This is a very modern way of creating artwork and uses image editing software to digitally alter images and sometimes merge images, to create a brand new image. Sometimes the artist will add their own work into the image to create something totally unique to them. Many digital artists are making significant waves in the art world, JJ Adams, Mark Davies and Stephen Hanson are amongst them.  
 
FLOAT MOUNTED
This is when a paper print is fixed in front of the mount rather than having the edge hidden by being fixed behind it.
 
FLOAT FRAMED
This is when a boxed canvas print sits in a recessed framed, with a gap all around the sides. It is fastened in from the back and looks like it is floating.
 
HAND EMBELLISHED
This is a relevantly recent phrase and is used to describe extra work done to a limited edition after printing. Some artists add painted brush strokes to the paint, eg Paul Oz. Some artists add Gold Leaf to their limited Editions, eg Andrei Protsouk. Some artists will even add extra pieces to the glass on framed pieces, eg Kealey Farmer.  
 
LIMITED EDITION
An edition is a run of prints made from the same original painting. A limited edition is a term used to describe a print which has only had a limited number printed. For example an edition of 95 means that there are only 95 prints available. You may also see Artist Proofs (AP, which are traditionally the artists own copies of the print) or Printers Proofs (PP, which were traditionally printed at the beginning of the run to quality check the set up of the printer) or even Hors de Commerce (which in French means 'do not sell'). Each of these are different edition types and may exist in addition to the standard numbers. eg an Edition of 95 may also have an AP edition of 10 as well as the 95 standard numbered prints. Some collectors seek them out in preference to the standard run but in modern times, when popular works sell out so quickly, many collectors are happy to simply have one rather than miss out. 
 
MOUNT
On a paper print this is the cardboard surround which separates the print from the frame. A double or triple mount is when there is 2-3 layers of board instead of just one, often stepped to show the layers. On a canvas print the mount is more substantial and is often called a slip. 
 
NUMBER
Numbered limited edition prints have never been so collectable. The faithful reproduction of original paintings into limited editions allows an artist’s work to be enjoyed by more people. Editions can be of any size however the smaller editions are often seen as more collectable as there are so few of them. With modern limited edition prints it is unusual to see an edition of more than 295. The number of the edition is usually hand written on each print and guarantees not only the size but also the authenticity of the edition. 
 
OPEN EDITION
An open edition is the term used to describe a print which has no limit on the number of copies which are produced. Some artists prefer this as they can simply keep selling for as long as the print remains popular. The price of an open edition print will be alot lower than a limited edition print. The value of open editions is often negligible as there is no way to verify how many are in existance. Commercially produced open editions can often have many thousands of copies.  
 
PROVENANCE
Provence is evidence of ownership for a piece of artwork, be it limited edition, original painting, or even a sculpture. Provenance can be a receipt or other bill of sale, a record in a gallery sales ledger. These pieces of information all add to the authenticity of the piece and add to the chain of ownership. 
 
RESIN
Resin is a modern replacement for glass which goes on as a liquid and dries hard and clear with a high gloss finish. It has a UV filter which protects and enhances the colours on the artwork it protects. It is most often used on paper prints but can be used on original work too. Once applied to the work it cannot be removed.
 
SIGNATURE
Each edition bears the unique signature of the artist. This signature authenticates each reproduction of the artist’s original painting and also ensures the edition is to their complete satisfaction.
 
SLIP
This is the mount which sits between a canvas print and the frame. It is more substantial than the cardboard mount found on a paper print. 
 
UNIQUE EDITION
A unique edition is a phrase coined by contemporary Welsh artist Kerry Darlington. Kerry's limited edition works each have 3D elements, shapes which relate to the artwork and which are all finished with resin rather than glass.    
 
 
PRINTING TECHNIQUES
 
COLLAGRAPH
The term collagraph is derived from the word collage, meaning attaching various materials to a surface. The collagraphs are made by using a metal plate with a variety of materials applied to it. This creates variable levels and textures on the surface.The term collagraph is derived from the word collage, meaning attaching various materials to a surface. The collagraphs are made by using a metal plate with a variety of materials applied to it. This creates variable levels and textures on the surface.
 
A variety of high quality, coloured oil based inks are then rubbed into the plate by hand using dappers and rollers, filling all the relief grooves. The extreme pressure exerted by the press, not only transfers the inked image, but also embossing from the plate onto the paper, which gives the final print its unique appearance
 
Almost all of the ink is removed from the plate after each print has been taken. Therefore, the lengthy process of reapplying inks to the plate has to be repeated each time, making every image individual. After the image is dry, other colours can be added to enhance the effect. Once the edition has been printed, the plate is destroyed, ensuring its limited availability.
 
GICLEE
Gicl√©e (zhee-clay) is a French term, in this case meaning ‚Äúspray of ink‚ÄĚ. A gicl√©e is a means of reproducing an original. It is not an original graphic but a fine quality reproduction print. Gicl√©e prints render deep, saturated colours and have a beautiful painting quality that retains minute detail along with subtle tints and blends. The prints are sometimes¬†hand embellished by the artist using paints and¬†inks and even possibly things like gold foil¬†for a mixed media effect.
 
The production of a giclée print is not an automatic process. The human touch is critical in several phases of the giclée process. All giclée prints begin with an original piece of art which is scanned into the computer, where the scan is colour corrected to ensure the digital image is as closely matched to the original as possible. That colour correction requires an experienced eye and a gentle touch in making the proper adjustments in tone, contrast, sharpness and other factors to produce a print that faithfully reproduces the original. In matching the computer image with the final print, a practised eye must make adjustments for the best results. And last, the printer itself needs steady attention to produce consistent, quality results. In short, the human hand is part of every step of the giclée process. Indeed, the difference between a quality printer and one that is not, lies almost entirely in the human involvement and craftsmanship.
 
LITHOGRAPH
This printing technique uses a planographic process in which prints are pulled on a special press from a flat stone or metal surface. The surface has been chemically sensitised so that ink sticks only to the design areas, and is repelled by the non-image areas. Lithography was invented in Solnhofen, Germany by Alois Senefelder in 1798. The early history of lithography is dominated by great French artists such as Daumier and Delacroix, and later by Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Braque and Miro.
 
OFFSET LITHOGRAPH
A special photo-mechanical technique in which the image to be printed is transferred to the negative plates and printed onto papers. Offset lithography is very well adapted to colour printing. In the process of producing limited editions the finest reprographic techniques are used to split the original painting into the four printing colours. High quality mechanical printing then enables the translation of this image onto paper. The plates are destroyed in order that the authenticity and integrity of the limited edition print is maintained.
 
SERIGRAPHS/SILKSCREEN PRINTS
These are created by the long established method which, in simple terms, is a stencil printing process in which colour, usually paint or ink is passed through a fine screen onto paper. The screen traditionally used comprises a fine weave silk, or similar, pulled over and secured to the frame. The silk is then masked excepting those areas where the paint is required to pass through. As each individual colour and shade requires a separate screen the whole process is lengthy and requires considerable skill. Slowly then, screen by screen, with precise alignment the final image is worked towards. The artist is involved during the creation of each edition, approving various stages and often making changes and additions, adding to the originality of the final item.
  
Can you think of a term we've missed?
Let us know and we'll be happy to include it :)