Artists Proofs and Limited Edition Collections

In recent years, fine art collectors have increasingly focused on acquiring quality limited edition photo prints deriving from work carried out in the pre-digital era. As in all collectors editions, the value of the investment is in the fact that each image is available in set numbers, so that once the edition is sold out, then logically the value increases over time. In the case of sought-after photographers, or sought-after iconic images such as for example in the rock and pop music world of the 60's and 70's, this has proved to be an interesting hunting-ground for the incidental and perennial art aficionados alike Additional value is to be found in securing one of the limited numbers of artist proofs for any particular edition. What is an Artist or Printers Proof? When a photographer/ art-director/artist releases a new image as a limited edition print, test prints are made, often in different sizes or on different types of paper before an edition is created.

These pre-edition prints are known as Artist Proofs (AP) or in some cases, Printer's Proofs (PP). Sometimes an AP is deliberated i.e. for a charity auction. How many Astists Proofs are made? An AP is approximately 10% of an edition i.e.

if an edition is 50 there is likely to be 5 artist proofs and so on. If an edition is created by a company on behalf of an artist the company will usually give the artist a few APs as part of their royalty payment. The artist can then give them to friends or sell them themselves, usually in some customised way to distinguish them from the edition. More commonly, once the edition is sold out, these numbered or un-numbered Artist Proofs are sold for an end-of-edition price. Being customised or rare they are highly collectable depending on the reputation of the photographer. In the pre-digital era, photographers used to supply prints, usually 10 x 8 prints known as "glossies" to newspapers.

Record companies also produced them by the 100s to give to fans and the press. These prints surface from time to time, sometimes signed by the artists, in auction sales, but they are not artist proofs or editions. In the digital era prints are no longer required for reproduction purposes and most digital images will never be seen as prints unless they are specially made for a friend, an exhibition or produced as an edition.

Jimi St. Pierre in collaboration with travel and hobbies author Penny Church writes for several UK travel and leisure companies including London-based who specialize in limited edition photos covering bands and artistes from each of the past 5 decades.

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