Interested in adding prints to your collection but don’t know where to start? No worries. We’ve prepared a simple guide to 10 must-know print types. From the standard Inkjet print to the not-so-common photo etching, this guide will help you boost your art print IQ.
“Photo-etching” or “photo-engraving” is a printing process that uses chemicals to transfer certain sections of a photograph onto a metal plate, which appear as shallow incised lines on the metal. To transfer the image from the plate to paper, the plate is covered in ink and then placed against the paper. The metal-paper sandwich is then passed through a printing press and voilà: a fresh photo-etching ready for collecting!
Adeline De Monseignat
Photo-etching, handpainted watercolour.
38 x 43.5 cm
Signed and numbered in the margin.
Edition of 25.
THE ARCHIVAL PIGMENT PRINT
A go-to print type for many artists, archival pigment prints like this Gfeller+Hellsgård piece have become the industry standard for extremely high-quality digital reproductions of existing original paintings or photographs. Three factors make archival pigment prints better than your standard inkjet print: the resolution of the original file (minimum 300 DPI), the quality of the paper (usually 100% cotton or rag base), and the use of long-lasting pigment based inks (vs. cheap dye inks) with large-format printers.
Pigment Print 13, 2017▫️
Archival Pigment Print
59.4 x 42 cm
Titled and credited in the margin
THE INKJET PRINT
Inkjet printing basically consists of “spraying” the image onto a paper support using a digital printer that releases ink through tiny, fast-moving nozzles. The inkjet printers used for art editions are generally fancier than your basic household printer. So don’t try printing this Hector Prats piece at your office.
Última Transmisión, 2013▫️
39.5 x 25 cm.
Edition of 30 plus 3 artist’s proofs.
Accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.
Screenprinting or silkscreening – you guessed it – uses a screen to transfer a visual onto paper. Fabric is tightly stretched over a wooden frame to create the screen. The non-printing areas are blocked out by a stencil, and paint is forced through the non-blocked areas and onto the paper using a squeegee. Even though all the prints produced with the same screen are meant to look the same, because of variations in pressure, paint thickness and positioning, no two prints are truly identical. So owning one of the 20 prints of this screenprinted Côme Clérino edition is like owning an original piece of art.
L’Atelier du peintre, 2017▫️
Silkscreen on paper.
60 x 40 cm.
Edition of 20.
Signed and numbered on the verso.
A lithograph is a copy of an artwork created by the artist themself or a skilled craftsmen. The process uses greasy crayons, a stone tablet, oil-based ink, paper and a press to create a quality print. To create a lithograph the artist uses a set of greasy crayons or pencils to draw a mirrored image of the original artwork onto a smooth stone tablet. After applying ink to the stone, a sheet of paper is placed over it and the combo is placed inside a press to transfer the visual. While a lithograph rarely has the same value as the original artwork it is based off of, if the print quality is excellent and the production numbers are low, it may still have significant value in the art world.
Le gout du bonheur, 1970▫️
Lithograph on on handmade Arches rag paper
325 x 250 mm
Edition of 666.
A C-print, C-type or Chromogenic print is a full color photographic print made from a color negative and produced using traditional chemicals and processes. Traditional C-prints are made in a darkroom on light sensitive paper. Because the color dyes of a C-print are in the emulsion, you can’t see any ink sitting on its surface, which makes prints like this Mitch Epstein photograph more durable and less susceptible to finger print marks or scratches.▫️
Fifth Av. New York, 1973▫️
C-print, printed in 2008
30 x 45 cm
Edition of 15
Signed, titled, dated and numbered on the verso
Provenance: Foam Editions
THE GELATIN SILVER PRINT
Gelatin silver printing is the most common printing process for black and white prints. Producing prints like this Roger Ballen photograph involves coating paper with gelatin containing light sensitive silver salts.
Cat in Fishtank, 2000
Gelatin silver print
40 x 40 cm
Signed on the verso
Edition 4 of 10
THE LAMBDA PRINT
Lambda prints like this Nicolas Feldmeyer photograph are similar to C-prints except that they are exposed via three laser beams projecting the image onto light sensitive materials. The nice things about lambda prints is that they are very fade resistant, which is important if you’re looking for art to hang in a sunny room.
Even After All 7, 2017
Black and white lambda print on resin coated paper, mounted on Dibond
100 x 150 cm
Edition 4 of 5 plus 2 artist’s proofs
Accompanied by a certificate of authenticity
THE DYE TRANSFER PRINT
In order to make this type of print, three separate sheets of negative film are produced through red, green, and blue (RGB) filters. From these negatives, gelatin matrices are created with cyan, magenta, and yellow (CMYK) dyes. The matrices are lined up exactly on the paper, and the combination of transferred dye images creates a final full-color print. Because the chemicals in dye transfers are stable, new prints can be made for many years after the original print.
Camel coat couple in street steam,
5th Ave., New York City, 1975
Vintage Dye-Transfer Print
50.8 x 61 cm
THE CIBACHROME PRINT
Also referred to as “Ilfochrome”, Cibachrome prints known for their long lasting, vibrant colors. In its commercial prime, Cibachrome was revered for being the only process that produced photographic prints directly from color transparency film. Because the base of a Cibachrome print is is polyester, it is very flat and sturdy. The Cibachrome process also uses a glossy finish that gives prints a metallic appearance when viewed at an angle.