GUIDE TO LABELLING ORIGINAL PRINTS
Labeling and numbering your prints:
- Always sign your prints using a pencil not a pen
- Sign your name, initial or monogram on your prints below the bottom edge of the plate on the right hand side (along with date if desired)
- Mark the edition number or print type below the bottom edge of the plate on the left hand side
- Add a title if desired in the middle between the signature and the edition number. Titles are often written in inverted commas - ‘Title’
- If the print is a ‘Bleed Print’ (the printed area is larger than the actual paper being printed on) use the same conventions but write either along the bottom of the image or along the bottom edge of the reverse side of the paper.
Types of Prints:
An ‘edition’ of a print is a limited set of identical prints made from the same plate. Editioned prints must be identical. If there is a discrepancy in quality, ink colour or even the paper is changed these prints should not be considered part of the edition. Editions are labeled with the particular print number then a slash (/) then the number of total prints in the edition.
Eg. 1/10 - print number 1 from a total of 10 identical prints.
35/75 - print number 35 from a total of 75 identical prints.
As well as printing a numbered edition there are several other conventions that allow artists to label their prints to convey different meanings. These labels simply go in place of where the edition number would be (under the bottom left edge of the plate.) Some of these are listed below:
A/P (Artist’s Proof) - Originally the artist was able to pull a number of prints out with their edition for personal use (e.g. if the edition was being retained by an agent). These are normally printed at the same time as the edition, are of the same high standard, and number up to 10% of the edition size.
B.A.T (Bon a Tirer) - The first perfect print to be pulled from the matrix is signed as the B.A.T. (good to pull). The edition and artist's proofs are then matched up to this as it is printed. The B.A.T. usually remains the property of the editioning atelier.
T/P (Trial proof) - These prints are pulled to assess the development of an image. They are marked as trial proofs as they indicate the unfinished progress of a work. They can be worth large sums if they land on the market as they show an insight into the artists working methods.
S/P ( State Proof) - This is the general term covering all working proofs. It can refer more specifically to trial proofs being reworked after an image has been editioned.
H/C (Hors Commerce) - These prints are not for sale but are marked for commercial/business use such as display or promotion. They do not have to be signed by the artist
C/P (Cancellation print) - When the edition has been printed, the plate is defaced in such a way that it cannot be reprinted in the original manner. Often a print is pulled with a large score across the plate and is signed as the cancellation print.
Monoprint or monotype - This refers to the technique of printing a single painted image from a silkscreen or non porous surface such as a sheet of glass, metal or styrene. In either case, the print is unique and cannot be editioned.
U/P (Unique Print), U/S (Unique State), V/E (Variable Edition) - These labels all refer to the print being unique or containing unique elements that cannot be exactly reproduced in another pulling. These three labels are probably best replaced with using the simple convention 1/1 (edition of 1)
Imp. - From the Latin "impressit" which means "has printed". An artist who has printed his or her own work may write this after their signature.
These are just some of the different labels that can be used when signing original prints. It is also worth being aware that conventions may vary in different countries.