THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A HAND PULLED PRINTOR AN ORIGINAL ART WORK VS. REPRODUCTIONS AND GICLEES written by: Claire MacLean-A Matter of Tastes Custom Framing & Art Galley
“What is the difference between an original hand pulled print and a reproduction?” *A great confusion exists on the difference between limited edition hand pulled prints and limited edition machine produced reproduction prints. An original print is an image created by an artist from a plate, stone, block or screen. Each work has unique qualities and can vary slightly because each one is pulled individually. The edition is the TOTAL number of prints produced from the plate. After each edition is printed, each print is numbered and signed in pencil beneath the image.
A giclee or a reproduction is a COPY of an original artwork. The original art work is photographed and reproduced by an offset press in the past, but now done with inks on large format printers. They should be marked as giclee or reproductions or posters. Often they are sold as limited edition fine art prints and signed in the same manner as hand pulled prints.
“How can I tell the difference?”
*Images printed by a photomechanical offset process or printer will have dot patterns or printing machine pixels. Often it is called a giclee (gee clay, with the 'g' being a soft sound as ''genetic') print and can be printed on watercolour papers or canvas to look like originals and are even wrapped them around canvas bars to give an authentic feel. Most often reproductions are printed on glossy or smooth paper. In the reproduction process, you only see the IMAGE of the thickness of brush strokes and paint. The strokes made by machine in the pattern and do not follow the image of the painting.
*Check the size of the edition. Generally, original prints are printed in small editions (ie.1/125). Reproductions are usually printed in large editions of several hundred to several thousand. (Ie: 1/ 1250)
An matrix/plate will eventually wear down to the point that images become weak or faded. Contemporary printmakers sign the print in pencil, usually in the lower right hand corner below the image. If you see a printed signature on the image, as well as below the image, it may be a reproduction.
*Do not rely on the price to determine whether it is original or reproduction. Many reproductions can be priced higher than hand pulled prints. You aren't paying for the reproduction of the work but the artist name and signature. *The words “lithograph” originally meant writing on stone. However, the term "litho" is used to refer to both original lithographic prints and offset photolithographs.