Learn About Fine Art
Limited Edition Prints
Limited edition printings, as we know of them today, became practical by
the inadvertent discovery of the offset lithography printing process in
the year 1906. Today, thousands of artists have their original drawings
and paintings reproduced in limited edition printings by a number of
different printing processes. These artists are creating collectible
art form. By reproducing their original work of art, the artist makes
it possible for thousands of people to own and enjoy a collectible piece
of art. You can learn all about the printing methods these artists use
for the reproduction of their art on this website.
The artist has the task of numbering these prints themselves and, of
course, must sign each print. Thereby creating fine art, a signed and
numbered, limited edition. In order for the edition to qualify as fine
art, the printing is always done onto an acid free paper or other
archival material. Unless destroyed by handling, or by fire, the
paintings will last for centuries.
The normal quantity of each limited edition will run from 200 to 1500
copies. It stands to reason that the value of each print in a smaller
edition would, eventually, become of more value than a print of a larger
edition. But it ultimately depends upon the talents and popularity of
a given artist. A number of popular artists create limited editions
that number in the tens of thousands, primarily because of their
notoriety and popularity that creates more of a demand for their fine
art. The value of the sales of limited edition, fine art prints are
equal to over thirty per cent of the total art sales in the world today.
And the sale of limited edition prints leads all other forms of
Our gallery will eventually have over
forty of Pat's fine art limited
edition prints, available for purchase by her collectors. And the most
precious gift that Pat has to offer is that she has an image that will
please every member of your family and your friends.
Open Edition Prints
Unlike the limited edition, the number of prints, the quantity of prints
run per printing, and the number of printings ultimately created would
simply depend on demand. And the same image may be reprinted for a
number of years. But that does not mean that the image is open for
anyone to reproduce it. The image may be controlled by copyright.
The future value of an open edition print may be increased by the
original artist's signature on the print and by the individual
Pat always signs her open edition prints for her collectors. You will
be able to find a number of exciting open edition prints in
And you may have a number of them personalized by Pat for your friend
or loved ones. You can select that very special gift for occasions
such as weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, baby's birth, a reflection
of love, or for many other events. And again, there is a painting to
please every member of the family.
Giclée [shi-clay] (digital printing)
The technology of digital reproducing fine art has made its mark in many
ways, and is a relative newcomer to the art market. The digital printing
processes have forced the industry to take a closer look at the processes
behind all fine art reproduction, prompting much discussion and debate.
The word "giclée" has been coined as the type of print that results
from digital printing; much like a "serigraph" from serigraphy and a
"lithograph" from lithography. It is a French term meaning
"aspray". To create a giclée, a digital printer sprays
ink onto a paper or canvas via instructions from a computer.
The process in the research and development of digital printing has been
evolving for the past ten years. But is has only been in the last couple
of years that the process has become available as a viable method for
artist to use for reproduction of their original works of art. Digital
printing is a high tech, high touch specialty that has evolved from
being an experimental reproduction method to a preferred publishing
process for many artists.
The common thread among most artists using digital printing today is
that the methods formerly available for fine art reproduction were
costly and time consuming. In addition, they did not allow the
control the artist often required to produce limited editions that
meet the individual artist's criteria. Most artist will not accept
less then an almost perfect reproduction of their original works of
Most important to the artist,, digital printing provides a true
faithful rendering of their original, capturing the depth, color and
intensity of the artist's work.
Digital printing is a five-step process involving several craftspeople,
technicians and state-of-the art technology. Step one in the process
is to consult with the artist and evaluate the original piece being
reproduced. At that time, a seasoned customer service representative
meets with the artist to understand her intent with the work and to
assess what makes each piece of work unique.
The second step of the process involves a camera or scanning operator.
The image is captured digitally with extremely sensitive scanning
The third step starts the refining stage of the process. The expert
eye of the person who proofs the art now becomes essential. When
the digital camera records the original image, the only colors
captured are red, green and blue. In this editing stage, called the
color conversion stage. The proofer prepares the image to be printed
by a device that prints in cyan (blue green), yellow, magenta
(purplish red) and black. "this part of the process is completely
subjective and controlled by the operator of the editing software.
Stage four in the process is the actual printing. This is the step
where the inks and substrates used for printing become vital. An
apprentice, journeyman or master printmaker does the actual printing,
and at this point, evidence of the technology involved should be
virtually eliminated. If you print a work of art on a regular printer,
you recognize it as a reprint. With giclée, when done properly,
it is difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish the original from the
reproduction. Because (digital printing) permits the piece to be
reproduced in the artist's original medium and size, you can achieve
the look and feel of the original work of art.
The most important quality for the ink is durability, which was the
source of most of the controversy surrounding digital printing.
"Eight years ago, no inks had achieved archival capability, the
advent of Equipoise ink in November 1997 offered the longevity that
made the process viable." That same year, a canvas was created that
didn't yellow, crack or fade, which further added to the viability
of the process.
The final step in the process is the curation of the print, which
involves the close inspection, hand restoration and application of
the final protective coating. The coating protects the print from
moisture, environmental influences and handling.
One of the most gratifying aspects of digital printing is that it
has allowed for experimentation and assimilation of divergent cultural
influences into the world art market. It makes fine art more affordable;
thereby allowing the artist to venture outside the realm of the familiar;
to explore the beauty, the depth, the playfulness and the spirituality
of the artistic soul. And because of the accuracy of the reproductions,
using this printing process, the limited edition need not be done in
one printing of the image.
Artist, Pat Brahs, has used this printing method to reproduce her
original paintings titled "The Flower Wagon", the Frontier Hotel,
and several others.
Offset lithography is a printing method many say has revolutionized
today's limited edition print market. But this modern marvel of
reproduction technology has roots deeply entrenched in the past,
beginning in 1500 B.C. and continuing throughout history.
In the mid-to-late 1400's, woodcuts were used to illustrate books.
Woodcuts graduated to copperplate engravings and lithography for
printing illustrations. The steam press for lithography was invented
in 1850. In 1906, paper manufacturer, Ira A. Rubel, inadvertently
discovered offset lithography when a lithographer made the mistake
of closing a press without putting paper in it. The image from the
plate cylinder transferred directly onto the rubber blanket that
covered the impression cylinder, which was used to press the paper
against the printing plate. A piece of paper was henceforth
immediately put through the cylinders, and a sharp, crisp image was
offset from the rubber blanket. Thus, offset printing was born.
The advantages of offset lithography for creating limited edition fine
art prints are many, including rich, accurate image reproduction on
a wide variety of substrates. Printing large areas of multiple
colors at one pass gives offset lithography the advantages of being
fast, accurate and versatile.
In order to understand the principles of offset lithography, it's
necessary to understand traditional lithography, which involves
creating a design on stone or some other receptive surface using a
greasy substance, which adheres to the stone. Water is then applied
to the surface, but the greasy design repels the water. When ink is
rolled on, the greasy surface accepts the ink but the wet surfaces
repel it. Paper is then pressed against the inked surface, and the
inked image transfers onto the paper.
Offset lithography is a more modern approach to traditional
lithography but, like lithography, it relies upon the mutual
repellence of water and oil. The term "offset" is appropriate
because the image is transferred to the paper indirectly. The ink is
offset from a printing plate onto a rubber blanket, which in turn
transfers the image onto the substrate. The paper never comes in
contact with the actual printing plate.
There are many steps involved in producing a fine art offset lithograph.
The first step in the process is the selection of artwork. Once the art
has been selected, the original paintings are photographed to create
positive transparencies in sized ranging from 4 by 5 inches to 8 by 10
inches. The production team then refers to the transparency to determine
the image design, establishing such factors as trim and image size, and
whether it will be four-color or sport any special applications, such as
foil stamping, metallic inks, PMS inks UV's or varnishes, or
embossing/debossing. The transparency is scanned into a desktop
scanner to create an FPO (For Position On) file for use by the image
designer, who integrates the FPO into the poster design using page
The printer then receives the transparency, and technicians scan it on
a drum scanner at the high resolution necessary to produce an accurate,
crisp fine art print. Via the drum scanner, a high-resolution digital
file is created. A color-accurate digital proof is made from this file
and sent to the publisher for color approval.
The plethora of colors appearing in the digital incarnation of the piece
are then separated into the four basic colors used in offset lithography
printing-cyan (blue green), magenta (purplish red) yellow and black
(CMYK). The operator creates a halftone to represent each color. (A
halftone is a picture that is converted to a various sized dots to
simulate continuous tones.
These digital halftones are then channeled to a high-resolution
imagesetter from which full-size film is output. There is a separate
sheet of film for each of the four colors (CMYK). Sometimes special
applications are added to fine art prints, so an additional sheet of
film is made for each additional color, varnish, UV coating or other
special application. As a result, only four sheets of film are required
here. These four sheets of film are carefully stripped together and
used to make a film proof and a blueline. The production team checks
the film proof for final color accuracy.
After the team has signed off on the film proof and blueline, printing,
plates are made. This is done from each sheet of film using a
photochemical process. Each plate is exposed to high-intensity
light shone through the sheet of film. The millions of little dots
on the film are transferred onto the plate, which is then chemically
treated so that non-image areas are water-absorbent. Plates produced
for offset lithography are usually made of a very thin, flexible metal,
but can also be made of other materials.
The four flexible plates are taken to the printing press. Each plate
is wrapped separately around the four rotating plate cylinders of the
press. As the press begins rolling, a dampening roller moistens the
plate. This moisture keeps the non-treated area of the plate wet, and
thus resistant to the ink. As the ink is applied to the plate, it
adheres only to the image. And is repelled from the dampened portions
of the plate.
As the cylinders continue rotating, the right-reading inked image is
transferred from the plate to a rubber-surfaced blanket cylinder, where
it becomes reverse-reading. The flexibility of the blanket cylinder
allows it to compensate for a wide variety of substrates without
damaging the delicate surface of the printing plate, which never comes
in contact with the paper. Printing quality is also improved by the
rubber blanket's ability to conform to the paper's texture.
Finally, the paper passes between an impression cylinder and the wet
inked image on the rotating blanket cylinder. The image pops out
right-reading again, and proceeds on to the next color cylinder.
In a four-color printing, the paper will travel through all four-color
cylinders of the press. After printing, the sheets are taken for
finishing which consists only of trimming.
Artists such as Thomas Kinkade, Beverly Dolittle,
Terry Redlin and Pat Brahs, use this printing method
because it is the preferred way to produce large quantities of prints
from an artist's original work of art. The quality of accuracy of
colors and image is good considering the number of copies created.
The artist will look over the prints and pull out the prints that
the artist believes best represent the original work of art.
These prints then become what the artist calls an artist proof.
This number is generally about ten per cent of the total images
printed. Pat has used this lithographic printing method to
reproduce a number of her original works of art.
Serigraphy (Silk Screening)
The history of screen printing dates back to the stenciling found
in primitive cave paintings in France and Spain. Cave painters
sprayed (by blowing color through a tube) around their hand or
pressed their hands into color printing onto the walls. Around
500 A.D., the Japanese and Chinese developed a more sophisticated
form of stenciling. In order to create fine detail in the printed
image. The Japanese began to push color and dyes through silk.
The fine weave of the silk held the color in place while the
impression was made.
Using that technique, screen-printing was mainly used for commercial
purposes, such as package labels and billboards. During the Depression,
the Work's Progress Administration enabled artist to explore the more
personal artistic capabilities the silkscreen process had to offer with
the creation of several patriotic prints. It was during this time that
the word "serigraph" was coined. It comes from the Latin word "seri",
meaning silk, and the Greek word "graphos," meaning to draw or
Today, serigraphy, silkscreen printmaking, is a discipline that uses
graphic techniques to crate a particular visual aesthetic personally
expressive to each artist and image.
Color Separations: The first step in creating a serigraph involves
producing color separations that make up the printed image. This is
the responsibility of the chromist. Making these separations can
employ a variety of techniques, but in this article we're focusing on
hand-painted separations. Each color is translated onto a mylar sheet
by hand by the master chromist using black opaque ink. These sheets
eventually become the screens. Depending on the complexity and the
desired effect, the number of colors per print can range from 15 to
128 or more colors and can take anywhere from two to 10 hours per
color to paint.
The chromist, in essence, becomes the artist by creating each color
separation, but the chromist must also think in terms of pulling apart
the whole image and starting from the ground up. Where an artist can
easily mix a desired color on their palette, the chromist must think
in terms of color formula.
Screen Making: After each color is painted, the mylar is given
to the screen department. Screens are stretched with nylon or
polyester. The open mesh screens are directly coated with a
light-sensitive emulsion. The mylar is then measured and taped to
the appropriate print area on the screen. The screen is then placed
in a vacuum frame to ensure good contact of the mylar with the
It is then exposed to an ultra-violet light that hardens the emulsion
everywhere that is not covered by black. The area under the
hand-painted ink stays soft and water-soluble. The screen is then
taken out of the frame, the mylar removed, and the painted area
washed out with water. After the screen is dry, it is then carefully
checked for dust or flaws with a magnifying glass before it goes to
Inks: Some small ateliers specializing in hand-painted acetates
(mylar) and traditional printmaking, also mix all of their inks from
scratch using pigments, rather than using recipes from formula books
to mix color. This stems from the belief that each artist requires
a different palette of color to make up his/her own unique style of
artwork and years of experience in mixing colors keeps the quality
of the artwork exceptional.
The color is mixed by the chromist, then proofed and adjusted by
the printer to check that it has achieved the desired effect. Often,
the color has to be adjusted three or four times to ensure its
perfection in the consecutive order of colors planned.
Printing: Once the color is mixed and proofed by the printer,
each color is registered and pulled by hand from the press. The
master printer works with an assistant who is in charge of quality
control for each print as it is taken from the press. The impression
is made by the pressure of a squeegee that pushes the ink through
the open areas of the screen. The printer must constantly be aware
of the viscosity of the ink, the tension of the screen and most
importantly, the registration of each and every print throughout the
edition. The value of a pure serigraph is understood when thought
of in terms of registering by hand each color, usually more than 100
times at 300 pieces (prints) per edition.
Curating: When the artist has approved the completion of his/her
work in print, each piece is carefully inspected and curated to insure
its perfection. Any print not meeting a standard of quality is pulled
from the edition and destroyed, along with all of the mylars painted
by the chromist, insuring a true limited edition.
Once the artist signs and numbers each print, the edition is carefully
wrapped and crated for distribution to galleries throughout the world.
Artist, Pat Brahs, has not, as yet, used this particular print method
to reproduce her original paintings.
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