Artist’s proofs explosion

Artist’s proofs explosion – Letters

ABN’s recent cover story on Artist’s Proofs, “Artist’s Proofs May Cause Controversy,” February, has elicited an enormous reader response. Turn to page 16 for a host of letters on the topic. Tell us what you think, too. Please send your thoughts to

The article in Art Business News on artist’s proofs was very interesting. As a printmaker who does intaglio prints and wood and Lino-cut prints, I was interested in the controversy. I do my own hand printing of my work, and when it comes to doing artist’s proofs, I also use the guideline of five- to 10-percent of the edition. But my editions are usually small, say, 75 to 100, depending on the piece and medium. I think the APs should sell for the same price as the numbered editions, although my APs are usually reserved for my collection/portfolio, gifts to a charitable organization for fundraising or as a gift to a special person or organization, in my gallery, I usually do not sell my APs unless all of my edition has sold out, then I may sell it for a higher price if my edition was small. I’ve never dealt with a publisher or institute that prints the work of printmakers. In another gallery that shows my work, I only give them the numbered edition to sell and never the APs. I can see where maybe some clear guidelines with publishers and artists should be established and collectors be educated about printmaking.

M. Fred Barraza

Artist & Printer

I enjoyed your story this month on the artist’s proof dilemma. As a digital/giclee/pigment printer, I really think the artist’s proof label is false and shouldn’t be used. In the old days of lithography and hand-pulled serigraphy, I was under the impression that artist’s proofs consisted of the few prints leading up to what was signed off on as final color (i.e. proofs).

While some consider these prints to be collectible and worth more, in the digital world, there are really only one or two artist proofs at best. Once you have correct color, there should be no change in the run of 10 or 1,000 prints. I too have seen a number of artists selling editions of 200 prints with another 150 artist’s proofs for almost double the price. I believe this is doing a tremendous disservice to digital printers and fine art dealers everywhere.

Jeff Dorgay


I have been a professional artist for more than 10 years and have been running an art consultation and custom frame shop for the last two. There are several points I agree on, mainly the overpricing of an artist’s proof. Knowing that the origins of an AP is for the artist only, some of the article’s information seems off. Back in the days of old when litho blocks and itaglio plates were the norm, APs were used by the artists in the printing process to determine ink densities, press pressures and overall print quality before the final runs were pressed. There are still professional fine artists who produce works in this “old school” style, and their APs aren’t nearly the final print quality you see in galleries. If their AP was framed in a gallery, I know they wouldn’t expect to get as much of a sale from it than from the final print run editions. This I know from personal experience, as well. The thought that large publishing houses use the artist’s work to make “editions” of and then “create” APs from that original is just dumbfounding to me, speaking from a professional artist’s experience. I know through our art consulting business that these APs are appealing to certain markets, but we try to educate the buyers as to what the APs are and why they are priced so. A lot of the distributors/publishers we purchase from charge more for the APs, so we in turn have to charge more to the clients, even though we know there is truly no difference in quality.

Robert Hein

AFI–The Art Source Inc.

Indianapolis, Ind.

If artists require or wish to keep a record of their work, give them a few of the regular s/n edition.

Colleen McGinnis

Caelin Artworks, Alberta, Canada

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