Commonly Used Terms

"Original" means that the artist herself made the image with her own hands

It can - but does not always mean one-of-a-kind. Therefore, calling something an original piece of art does not necessarily mean that it is unique.

One normally thinks of original as referring to a unique work that the artist made - a pastel, watercolor, oil painting. But the term also refers to multiple originals as in the case of etchings and lithographs in which the artist herself drew or painted on the plates. So there are two kinds of original art -one-of-a-kind original works of art or multiple originals. Therefore, the term original refers only to the extent of the artist's involvement.

"Original" in the Tacky Market

In the tacky market "original" refers to the painting or other unique work from which their limited edition prints are reproduced. So, someone trying to sell me an Erte for $5500 will say that this print is a silk-screen copy of an original, unique ink drawing that was 80% smaller. These people do not recognize the term original print, and do not think that there is any such thing.

What is a Reproduction?

Reproduction simply means a copy. Typically, a work of art is made in one form, usually a painting or watercolor. Then, it is either copied by hand or using photographic techniques such as prints, posters or silk-screens to make a reproduction. Remember though, an artist who copies a unique painting by making another unique painting is also technically making a reproduction. It's just a one-of-a kind reproduction as opposed to a multiple reproduction.

What is a Print?

In order to define the term print I must first define the term matrix. A matrix is an object upon which a design has been formed and which is then used to make an impression on a piece of paper, thus creating a print. A wood block, metal plate or stone (lithograph) can be used as a matrix. In other words, a print is a piece of paper upon which an image has made an impression from a matrix. Multiple impressions can be made from the same matrix

What is a "Limited Edition Print"?

A limited edition print simply means that a print is made in an edition that is limited to a certain number, and that no more will be produced from a matrix. It refers both to original prints and to tacky market reproductions. Posters are, for the most part, printed in unlimited editions.