5 key things to know about Lithographs
1). What is a lithograph?
A lithograph is an authorized copy of an original work created by the artist himself or other skilled craftsmen. The work lithography comes from Greek, meaning “to write or draw on stone”.
2). How does lithographic printing works?
The lithographic printing process is based on the mutual incompatibility of grease and water. The artist uses a set of greasy crayons or pencils to draw on the surface of a porous stone, referred to as a plate. After the image has been recreated to the satisfaction of the artist or its Estate, it is ready to be turned into a lithograph.
An oil-based ink is applied directly to the plate and bonds with the greasy crayons lines. Water is then wiped onto the remaining unpainted areas to prevent the ink from smearing. A sheet of paper, preferably 100% cotton such as the BFK Rives or Vélin d’Arches, is then placed over the plate. The inked stone and the sheet of paper are placed in a press and pressure is evenly applied to transfer some of the ink to the paper. Each print will require re-wetting and re-inking the plate for each color: one drawing for each different color, one color per press run.
3). Why is a print more than just a copy of an original?
A lithograph results from a close collaboration between the artist or the artist’s Estate and the studio. The printers are highly skilled technicians and craftsmen and are often artists in their own right. Since the lithographic printing process is done entirely by hand, each print from the edition has unique qualities and can vary slightly because each one is pulled individually. Prints present the opportunity to own authentic works of art for a fraction of the price of an original.
4). How are prints numbered?
Each print is given an edition number, typically written as a fraction - for example 68/300. The number to the left is the individual print’s number while the number to the left is the total number of impressions in that particular edition.
5). How to care for fine art prints?
When handling prints, it is best to try and touch the paper as little as possible, and avoid touching the printed area. Should you decide to frame your print, make sure to go to a professional framer. UV protection glass/plexiglass is recommended for protection against light. The white margins (areas surrounding the image) are included in the print intentionally and should not be cut to fit in a smaller frame.
With proper care, fine art prints will last for generations!