Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Advice for Buying Artist Reproductions

When a prospective consumer is shopping for new art for their homes or businesses, they need to be very aware of the different variety of art reproductions that are available in the art market. Each method and print is distinctive in the unique process it takes to create the artist reproduction. The main reproductive processes that are commercially available in museums, galleries and boutiques are: Giclee prints, Enhanced Giclee prints, Lithographs, Serigraphs, and Canvas Transfers.  And with each of these specialty print treatments and procedures; quality, value, and investment are key points in helping determine how to make a smart purchase.

What is a Giclee?

A Giclee (zhee-CLAY) is an individually produced, high-resolution, high-fidelity, high tech reproduction done on a special large format printer. Giclees are produced from digital scans of existing artwork. Most commercial and fine art galleries will use archival, professional-grade inks and paper to help prolong the lifespan of the print as well as maximize the longevity of the color content.

What is an Enhanced Giclee?

This is a special category of Giclee prints that have certain areas of the image (such as highlights, sky etc.) enhanced with oil paint colors by the artist- to add a paint brush texture, brush stroke, palette knife mark or other personal touch to the print. The individualized accent gives added investment and uniqueness to the print; often creating an effect of an original oil painting while inevitably increasing its market value.

What is a Lithgraph?

Lithographs are "traditional" prints made by engraving an image or text on metal plates, wooden blocks or other soft materials. These plates are then inked through a variety of printing techniques, laid on a printing bed, and run through the printing presses.  A drum or “windlass” places an even amount of pressure to the print paper that us facedown on an inked plate. After the print is “rolled” through the bed the paper is then removed from the plate and the ink will have been transferred from the plate to the paper.

The Lithograph print must also be approved by the artist before it goes through the numbered run or limited edition printing on the press. A first run of an official image is called an “Artist Proof”, or often seen as an “AP” notation on the print itself. This means that this particular print is the artist’s verification that all the colors are correct, the image is how they want it and all the details are exact.  This initial stage of printmaking reflects the quality and accuracy of the print, approved by the artist.

Once the plate has passed inspection, an oil-based ink is applied to certain areas, while the blank areas are wiped with water.  It is then pressed onto a specialized, cotton-based or hand-made paper; transferring the ink.

In the case of colored lithographs, these multi-hued reproductions will go through several presses; one for black, red, yellow and blue; ultimately building colored layers to reach the desired shade. In fact, lithographs can take as much time to make as an original art work; often making them more valuable and collectable verses the digital prints.

What is a serigraph?

Serigraphy is the name commonly used for fine art prints created using the silk-screen technique, the word coming from the Greek roots of seri (silk) and graph (write or draw).  The word serigraph can be used interchangeably with silkscreen, but is often preferred by fine artists to differentiate their work from mass-produced silkscreen items like t-shirts, posters, and coffee mugs.

Fine artists create limited edition silk-screens by applying layer upon layer of pigment to the print surface by pressing it through a mesh screen containing a stencil.  The process commonly uses inks for pigment and stencils made of a variety of materials.  Paper and plastic cutouts can be used as stencils, but using stencil fluid, which is applied like paint to the screen using a brush, stylus, or palette knife, creates a more "painterly" look.  When the liquid stencil dries, it prevents the transfer of ink through the screen at that location, creating a "negative space" on the print.  The artist has to think backward from the normal process of adding pigment to a surface to remain visible; defined as an additive process.
In Serigraphy, the pigment is added to the print surface to cover much of the previous layers, with the stencil allowing only the desired pigments to remain untouched and visible in the final print.  For this reason, Serigraphy is called a reductive process.

What is a Canvas Transfer?

A Canvas Transfer is a print or poster image that has been transferred and fixed to a canvas surface. A paper poster or print is coated with a special film that lifts the image from the paper. The film, with the embedded image, is heat-sealed to the canvas surface. The image is now part of the canvas, taking on the texture of the canvas surface. The whole piece is given a clear UV protective coating and stretched over a wooden framework.

As technology changes, art can be mass produced like never before; making it more available as well as affordable.  For this reason, it is always recommended one ask for a certificate of authenticity when buying artist reproductions.

This letter or certificate is an authorized acknowledgment that the artist reproduction was validated, approved, and consented by the artist, their perspective dealers or authorized agents of the artist. It will contain the name of the artist, the dealer, the title of the artwork, year of production, type of print, material, number of editions, and various authorized signatures. The certificate of authenticity will be given to the purchaser upon sale.
(Above information was excerpted from

Gabriel Diego Delgado
Art Consultant
J. R. Mooney Galleries of Fine Art / 8302 Broadway / San Antonio, TX. 78209 / 210.828.8214

Title: "At the Balcony", Artist: Pino, Type: Giclee, size: 40 x 32

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