Artwork Terminology

If you’re a little unsure what the differences are between originals, prints, and other common terms in the world of fine art, then hopefully this can bring some clarity.  Following are a few terms you’ll often see, along with a general description of what they mean.

Original Artwork
Original Artwork also commonly referred to as an “Original” is the one and only original work of art directly created by the artist.  In regards to paintings, the Original is the work of art with the actual paint placed by the artist themselves.  Same goes for pencil sketches, pastels, and other mediums.  There will only ever be one Original and therefore it is typically far more valuable than any print reproductions.

A print is a reproduction of the original artwork.  Typically, a print is reproduced by scanning or photographing the original artwork, editing the digital image to match the original artwork as closely as possible, and then printing that image in ink onto paper, canvas, or other suitable material.  Today, most prints are “Giclee” prints which simply means they are made with an inkjet printer.

Giclée Print
A Giclée Print is a print made with a Giclée printer which is typically an inkjet photo and fine art printer using archival grade inks.  Every print created by Mike Zillgitt Art is a Giclée Print.

Limited Edition
A limited edition is an edition or set of prints with an established limited number of copies.  A limited edition print is one single print within that edition.  A limited edition print is typically signed and numbered by the artist.  For example, if there is a limited edition of 100 prints, each print in that edition will be signed by the artist and numbered “1/100”, “2/100”, etc.  After all 100 prints in that edition are sold, that edition will be closed forever and no more prints will be made within that edition.  The value of limited edition prints can depend on many different variables, but one of the main factors is the rarity established by being limited.  An extra special touch can be added to a limited edition in various ways such as including a remarque (small sketch) on the prints, in which case you’re acquiring a mini original work of art included with your limited edition print.

Open Edition
An open edition is an edition in which there is no limit to the number of copies made.  An open edition print is one single print within an open edition.  An open edition print will not be signed nor numbered by the artist.  Since open edition prints are unlimited they are generally considered less rare, less collectible, and ultimately less valuable than a limited edition print.  An open edition print is a great option if you’re not seeking the value and collectible qualities of a limited edition print, but would still like to acquire a piece of art you enjoy at a more economical price point.

Print Review
Now that we’ve covered the print variations above, let’s do a few examples of how you might see them jumbled together 🙂:

  • Limited Edition Giclée Paper Print:  One single print within a Limited Edition that is printed with a Giclée printer on Paper.
  • Open Edition Giclée Paper Print:  One single print within an Open Edition (no limit) that is printed with a Giclée printer on Paper.
  • Limited Edition Giclée Canvas Print:  One single print within a Limited Edition that is printed with a Giclée printer on Canvas.  The canvas may be flat for framing, or it may be stretched over a wooden frame for what is called a “canvas gallery wrap”.
  • Open Edition Giclée Canvas Print:  One single print within an Open Edition (no limit) that is printed with a Giclée printer on Canvas.

Mike Zillgitt Art Print
At this point you’ve hopefully gained clarity on the terms above, or maybe I’ve just confused you more.  Either way, if you’re still reading, thanks for sticking with me.  I have one last type of print to describe, and that’s a Mike Zillgitt Art Print.  A Mike Zillgitt Art Print includes any of the various types of prints discussed above that are made directly by me right here in the studio and you can read more about it here.

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