Print Signing

Signing Prints                                                                Compiled by Ian Ruffino  2/2006

1/6                                signature

There are no hard and fast rules for signing prints, but in keeping with tradition the artist's signature is inscribed in pencil at the bottom right of the print along with the impression number on the left. The edition size (6) is indicated on the print as the second part of two numbers separated by a virgule: 1/6. The first number is the arbitrary designation for that impression; it does not indicate the order in which the impressions were printed. A title if included is usually placed in the middle, but variations do exist. This information may instead appear on the back of the print, directly under the printed image, or at the bottom of the paper.

artist's proof
An impression that is essentially like other impressions in the numbered edition, but for one reason or another is deemed superior or special by the artist. Artist's proofs are limited in number from 5 to 10 percent of the edition size.
bon a tirer
(Good to Pull) The first impression that is fully acceptable to the artist and the printer; it serves as the standard of quality against which each impression is compared. By longstanding tradition, It is the property of the collaborating printer.
cancellation proof
After the full edition has been printed, the artist or printer may abrade the key stone, plate or block in such a way as partially to destroy the image. An impression is then pulled off this defaced image as evidence of the fact that the edition has been limited and that no additional impressions can be made.
color separation proof
An impression printed in color from a single stone or plate of a multi-color print may be designated as a color separation proof. This term will normally be used only to designate a proof, which is not included in a full series of progressive proofs.
color trial proof
A color trial differs from the numbered edition in the color of one or more of the inks that are used. Such impressions usually come into being as the artist makes adjustments in color during proofing, and it is not uncommon that in the printing of a complex color lithograph there may be several such proofs, each differing from the other.
hors de commerce
An impression, similar to the numbered impressions in the edition, that is not for sale. Impressions, stamped "hors de commerce" on the back, may also be hole-punched and are used so as not to handle good impressions from the edition. Hors de commerce impressions are destroyed when the edition has sold out.
lettered proof
When only a few proofs are pulled, either as an experiment or because a technical problem has prevented the printing of an edition. Letters designate these prints: Proof A, Proof B. etc. This designation is used only in the absence of a numbered edition.

work proof

publication proof

A proof on which the artist has drawn, painted or collaged. This proof is used as a reference of changes the artist wishes to make in an edition or to record directions the artist might pursue in the future.

Unsigned and unchopped impressions (not in excess of five) will be printed on occasion for use in connection with print sales. Such impressions will be clearly marked publication proof, not for sale in indelible ink, and will be further cancelled by cutting a corner from the sheet of paper or punching a hole within the image. All such impressions will be destroyed as soon as they have served their purpose.
progressive proofs
A series of progressive proofs may sometimes be printed to record the development of a color print. As example, a set of progressive proofs for a four-color lithograph would include the following: Stone A, B, A+B, C, A+B+C, D. The final impression in the series (A+B+C+D) may, on some occasions become the bon à tirer impression; on other occasions it may be designated as a trial proof or a progressive proof.
presentation proof
On occasion an artist may wish to make an inscription on a print to a friend or collaborator. If such impressions also bear designation as artist's proofs they will be recorded as such. If however, they bear no designation other that the artist's dedication or inscription, they will be recorded in documentation as presentation proofs. Sometimes called a special proof.
printer's proof
On occasion, more than one printer participates to a substantial extent in the proofing and/or printing of an edition. When this occurs, a printer's proof is pulled for that second printer. Rarely, if a third printer participates in the project, a printer's proof II may be designated. Such impressions, when they exist, are essentially comparable to the bon à tirer impression.
record impression
One record impression is printed when there is no numbered edition and only proofs are preserved.
separation proof
Separation proofs are impressions of the separate stones or plates, printed in black, which may be printed in order to facilitate reproduction of the image in catalogues or magazines.
state proof
State proofs are impressions that differ markedly from the numbered edition. Such impressions come into being prior to major alterations in the stone, plate or block. If an image undergoes a series of major modifications, there may well be a series of differing state proofs, which together record the state in its evolution.
trial proof
An impression printed prior to the printing of the bon à tirer impression. Trial proofs may differ from the numbered edition if they are printed prior to minor   corrections in the stone, plate or block. They may simply be weak impressions printed en route to the bon à tirer, or they may be trial impressions on a paper different from that ultimately chosen by the artist for the printing of the edition. Only impressions printed in black or in colors identical to those used in the edition are designated as trial proofs. Other trial proofs are designated color trial proofs (CTP).

Approval to print. An approval to print is a trial proof upon which the artist has noted (in writing) minor changes and/or corrections yet to be made and has given his or her approval to the printing of an edition. To avoid misunderstandings, such an approval to print must be precise and explicit. The flaws which cause a trial proof to be signed approval to print rather than bon à tirer must be minor and easily correctable. The printer cannot accept an approval to print if major changes in the image or in color are required.
Blended inking. Blended inking is a process through which two or more colors are printed simultaneously from a single roller. It is sometimes also called a split fountain or a rainbow roll.
Blindstamp or chop. All impressions or proofs printed at professional print shops carry a chop or blindstamp as well as that of the individual printer. At the artist's discretion either the embossed chop may be used or the edition may be blindstamped in ink on the reverse of each impression.
Dead proof. In the early stages of proofing an impression is sometimes pulled on the reverse side of a sheet of fine paper, which bears on its face a rejected proof. Such a proof is called a dead proof. It is the responsibility of the printer immediately to destroy such a proof (usually by tearing off a corner of the sheet) as it is taken from the press. Under no circumstances is such a proof permitted to leave the print shop.
Fine paper. The term fine paper is used to describe paper of a quality satisfactory for use in the printing of an edition. Rough papers of non-archival quality are also used in initial stages of proofing. Proofs on such papers are normally destroyed.
Numbered edition. Each impression in the numbered edition is compared to the bon à tirer impression prior to signature and, to be acceptable, must be essentially like it. Arabic numbers are used (see also, Roman numbered edition). The lower number indicates the size of the edition. The upper number indicates the sequence in which the impressions have been signed. In the printing of an edition of lithographs, the first impression would be no different from the last; there is thus no reason to record the sequence in which they are printed. In some intaglio processes the earlier prints in the sequence are sometimes viewed as more valuable because of the inevitable loss of detail due of ware, but any responsible printer would not include pints of lesser quality as part of a numbered edition, and sequences are not usually maintained. The true meaning of the number, 1/20, is that the impression is one of an edition of 20, not specifically that it is the first of twenty.
Permanence of color inks Extensive research should be done to assure that all inks used in the print shop are stable and permanent. Even so, the nature of ink is such that permanence can be stated only in relative, not absolute terms. Inks used in pale and transparent tint mixtures are somewhat more likely to fade than are inks of maximum concentration. Problems also exist with respect to certain dark blue, purple, and black ink mixtures which when heavily printed in solid or flat areas on top of earlier ink layers may tend to bronze (take on a copper-like tone -common in lithography) or dry unevenly. The violet and purple range of the spectrum is lacking in pigments, which meet all requirements for truly satisfactory lithographic inks.
Roman numbered edition. In addition to the numbered edition (numbered with Arabic numerals) a smaller roman numbered edition is sometimes printed. All impressions included in such an edition are essentially comparable to the bon à tirer impression, but are sometimes printed on paper different from that used in the printing of the numbered edition.
Variation within edition The nature of printmaking processes is such that subsequent impressions may vary slightly from the bon à tirer impression, although within a narrow range. For this reason the impressions included within the numbered edition as essentially like one another rather than identical to the bon à tirer impression. It is best to maintain the highest possible standards within the technical limitations of the medium.

Cat Village is a sovereign state irreverent to the rules of Modernism. Earn our respect with effort and responsibility.