Print Guild: Limited Edition Print Definition

Limited Edition Print

(multiple original)

          An original limited edition print (multiple original) is traditionally considered to be an impression pulled (printed) by the artist or printmaker.  The unique image is created directly on a stone, block, plate, or other matrix (material) by the artist and individually hand printed in a limited number (edition) of like impressions or proofs. 

Satisfying this definition of an original print is also the traditional photographic image; most commonly a silver-based or light sensitive process using fiber-based paper.  As in the case of an etching or a woodcut, the photographic image is also printed by the photographer/artist, or by someone (technician), according to the photographer’s specifications. With today’s increasing use of computer technology the distinctions of true multiple-original are less easily understood and appreciated.

          The intention of the print guild is to encourage and foster exploration of a variety of print media, both traditional and new exploratory forms, while respecting the spirit and tradition of the bona fide print.  For some, the use of a computer to both create and reproduce the image will be the most appropriate means available.  The guild recognizes this approach as completely valid with the following caveat; that the computer is used creatively as a means to create a unique image otherwise not attainable without a computer.  In other words, digitalizing an image already effectively finished and reproducing it as one would using a copy machine negates the definition of original, in the same way that reproducing a watercolor painting through means of photo offset negates a true multiple-original lithograph.  As for “pulling” or “outputting” images, the same standard should apply to all processes, be they photographic, digital, or traditional.  In the case of dyes or pigments, an effort should be made to use the best available (the least fugitive) and in the case of paper, handmade or archival quality is the standard.