Few words about prints:
Commonly called SERIGRAPHY. This process historically used silk fabric stretched on printmaking screens. But now more effective screen fabrics are used. A stencil is cut out and attached to the fabric screen. When ink is squeezed through the screen to the paper on the other the side the stencil protects the areas where the artist wants does not want ink. Thus a design is formed. The resulting image is called a stencil or pochoir print.
MONOTYPES or MONOPRINTS
If the artist develops a flat unaltered printing surface and makes a single print, it is called a monotype. The imaging is executed in two basic methods; subtractive and additive. In the subtractive method the surface of the plate is completely inked then the image is wiped from the dark field. In the additive method the image is painted directly onto a light field with brushes, rollers or even fingers. Works that combine monotype with other printmaking techniques are called monoprints. Currently there is a growing interest in developing handmade prints with a unique image.
This is the most commonly known method. Offset printing means that the image on the plate was initially printed on one surface and transferred to another surface for the final printing. Offset printing is really useful for prints involving a lot of colors done with multiple plates.
As the printmaking surface is developed, proofs are pulled to study the state they are in. These proofs are labeled 1st state, 2nd state. The first proofs pulled from the completed surface are labeled AP for artist's proofs. Up to 10 percent of the edition can be made ethically as artist's proofs. The smaller the edition, the more valuable each print in the edition. This is why too many artist's proofs would mislead the serious collector who wants to know how many prints were in the total edition. Limited editions The artist determines the total number of the actual edition, not including the proofs, before all the prints are done. As the prints are made they are numbered in sequence and this number is placed over the total of the edition in the margin of the print surface. The notation is a fraction. For example if 20 intaglio prints were made the notation would read 1/20 for the first print pulled. A collector considers the early prints pulled to be more valuable. However, this is not always the case. The artist usually signs and numbers an edition after the entire edition is pulled. Most likely impression number 1/100 was actually the last pulled and ended up on top of the stack. For giclées, all the prints are equals. Also note that high print editions, for example, 1,000 should not be considered as valuable as the lower editions. It could really be considered an open-edition. An open-edition can be done over and over and does not have the same collector value as some of the other type of prints. But if you want the image-go for it!
Fine art prints should be done on good paper. The paper should never be a thin weight and always acid free. When paper is acid free it won't turn funny colors like costume jewelry. It depends on the amount of pH in its fibers. (7 pH is neutral, 0 pH is highly acid). Papers with less that 5.4 pH lose strength and disintegrate. The gallery or artist will know about the paper quality and should be asked. Remember it's more than just the image.
WHAT IS DECKLE EDGE?
Deckle edge is the "hairy" irregular edges on a sheet of handmade paper. These endings occur when pulp runs out under the deckle frame. Deckle edges were, at one time, were cut off. But today we consider them a sign of quality. So keep an eye on those edges.
MAKE SURE YOUR PRINT IS SIGNED!
Randy Rosen, an expert on print collecting, states "...The difference between a signed and an unsigned print by a major artist can be a matter of hundreds, even thousands of dollars". Most artists, sign their prints in pencil. It is difficult to detect a printed signature under glass signed in ink. The whole purpose is to authenticate its quality for the buyer. The goal of these prints is to provide artwork for clients that liked the image but could not afford an original yet.