Limited edition prints are increasingly becoming an art market favourite as an alternative to reproductions or originals, but can easily spark doubt for those new to art collecting due to concerns over authenticity.
Limited edition signed art prints should not be overlooked as a valuable asset. With the artist proof in hand; they're equally as valuable as original pieces of artwork.
What Is An Artist Proof Print?
An artist proof print has a connection to limited edition prints. It is commonly known as a copy of the photograph and is not a part of the numbered edition. These prints are used as a test print by the artist and kept for their personal collection.
Traditionally the artist would take the proof straight off the printing press and amend the colours and quality. Then, once the artist was happy with the proof, they would then proceed with the limited edition print.
Generally, the first test prints created that the artist is completely satisfied with, would be classed as artist proof and are often sold on at a higher price. In today's market, this tends to be rare, and is often used as a gift to museum displays and galleries. However, a true artist proof will never be sold on the market.
'Artists Proofs' are also referred to as épreuve d'artiste in French, A.P, A/P and AP. Usually, the artist will keep 10-15% of a limited edition and call them artist proof.
Who Buys Artist Proofs?
Even though artists proofs are often presented as a gift, time and again, they're often sold. They are typically bought by collectors. Due to their scarcity, they're often deemed more valuable than a limited edition print and, often costlier.
With the rise of popularity with digital prints, artist proofs can in many instances be listed under the same price as numbered limited editions. However, if they display equal quality and the same condition, artists proofs in most cases are more expensive, costing anything between 20-50% more.
What Makes An Artist Proof Print Valuable?
There is no single factor that contributes to an artist proof prints price, instead, there are several factors which are:
First of all, there are far fewer artist proofs than limited editions that exist. Usually an artist proof consists of 10% of the limited edition print run and are often viewed as a more personal print directly from the artist's hand, making their value rise.
If an artist proof is on the market and the artist is deceased, it tends to be more expensive. Even though they're scarce in value, those artists that are alive and produce several artist proofs per edition tend to be less expensive.
A true artist proof will tend to not have a print run number; instead, to state it's an artist proof, there will often be an A.P in the corner. This signifies that the print is rare. Some artists like to put A.P and the number out of the artist proofs available.
How Are They Made?
Artist proofs tend to be produced in the same format and size as the limited edition. Artists tend to team up with specialist printers who are experts while the artist supplies their art. Once printed, the printer will usually receive a copy in addition to their wages and then have a proof known as a "bon tiere", which works as a control print for other impressions.
How Are Artist Proofs Regulated?
Artists regulate their artist proofs by only making sure 10-15% exist in a limited edition collection. Therefore, if they had a limited edition collection of 100, only 10 of them would be artist proofs. Similarly, the A/P signifies to the buyer that it's only an artist proof.
Artist Proof Prints vs Limited Edition Prints- What's The Difference?
Limited Edition Prints
A limited-edition print is a piece of art that is a copy of the original version. However, unlike other editions, these prints are limited and only are a certain amount of numbers are printed by the artist. A limited-edition print will have a number on to signify where it stands in the edition and how many in that edition exist.
For example, if you buy a limited edition print and has the numbers 10/100, your print is number 10 in the edition out of 100 other prints released.
Artist Proof Prints
When an artist reviews the quality and colour of their limited edition print, they will get a proof in the past artist proofs used to be for the artist only as a test print for their collection. These were never sold and often given as a gift to galleries or museums. Instead of a number, an artist proof would have A/P on them, and there would be fewer quantities available. Usually, artists proofs are only 10-15% of a limited edition series.
Should You Buy Artist Proof Prints?
Buying artist proof prints can be a completely subjective decision. Ultimately it depends on how rare the design is, if the edition is sold out, the artist is deceased, the number of artist proofs available and the correct documentation. If it has any of these, you may wish to invest in one for your collection. Speak to an art market expert to advise you on the best art to invest in or collect.
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