What Is An Original Print?

Original print sounds like a contradiction in terms. How can a print by its nature, a multiple image, be original?

An original print is an image created from hand cut or uniquely produced source, such as printing blocks, plates or stencils which are used to produce a limited number of prints. The number produced is determined by the artist, or by the actual printing process itself. For example, an etching plate may take weeks to etch, followed by forty minutes of inking, wiping and printing for each individual image, to form part of an edition. Alternatively a monoprint, by its nature, can only be printed once, making it unique.

In contrast, a Reproduction Print is a copy of a work in another medium e.g. a painting in watercolour using four colour photomechanical means. The ‘limited print’ is simply determined by the quantity that the printing press is set to produce, without any further involvement from the artist. The print run is usually considerably more than the hand produced work.