1. Home
  2. Photography & Printm...
  3. Artist Proof or AP vs. Numbered Edition Print

Artist Proof or AP vs. Numbered Edition Print

Artist Proof or AP vs. Numbered Edition Print

Which is the best choice for you and is there a difference:

As an art lover and someone who is considering purchasing a piece of art, you may want to know the difference between a number edition print and an artist proof print. This is an excellent question and will greatly expand your knowledge in art, which is crucial to the investment you are about to make.

The below pertains to numbered editions vs artist proofs for photography:

As with paintings the AP or artist proof is a copy of the photograph outside of the numbered edition, historically made as a test and reserved for the artist’s own collection or to be shown in gallery, museum shows or given as gifts. A photograph can have multiple AP’s, and some of them may be made available for purchase if the rest of the edition is sold out.

Historically the AP / artist proof were highly sought after by collectors as the images were “the cream of the crop” but with the advent of modern digital printing artist proofs and numbered edition prints are the exact same.

In the early days of photography when everyone, artists and film enthusiasts a like, taking a photograph required physical film, and a process to get those photos developed. A developed print is an image made by briefly exposing a photographic negative to light sensitive paper. Once exposed to light the images are made visible by using several different chemical “baths” to development the image onto the photographic paper and then fix the image so future exposure to light will no longer affect the image. Initially developed during the 1850s, the developed print didn’t gain in popularity until the late 19th century and was used throughout the 20th century until the advent of digital photography. While still in use today digital prints dominate the market as they provide a greater level of control and quality.

The below pertains to numbered editions vs artist proofs for paintings:

The Limited-Edition print market came about when technological advancements allowed painters to expand their market reach by creating affordable prints relative to the original works. The first “proofs” were either pulled or printed, and the artist had the option to work out the color and quality issues as they came out of the process. Several corrections would be made by the artists, and those “artist proofs”, or APs, would be set aside and not included in the number of the limited- edition print run. Although, these prints were still of high quality. Artists found that there was a high demand for artist proof because clients would specifically request the limited-edition prints that they would obtain directly from the artist.

A trial proof, also known as TP, is a print that is pulled before the edition to see what it looks like at that stage of development. There can be any number of trial proofs, but each print was different. This was the stage where the artist and printmaker correct the image prior to the A/P. After the artist corrects the piece to perfection, the artist proof prints are made and outside the regular edition and equal in quality as well as signed and numbered by the artist.

It is crucial to note that today’s Artist Proof prints are of exactly quality, type, and media as the regular edition. The only real difference between the two is the restricted quantity of prints bearing the AP designation and not the quality of the print. It all comes down to your style and what you think fits best in your space. Some art collectors prefer AP prints because they feel that the piece will withstand its value or increase in value over time. However, it all depends on the current market; but a piece of art is only worth what it can be sold for.

We hope you found this useful in your quest to for knowledge but should you still have any additional questions or need any more information please don’t hesitate to reach out to us and we will be more than happy to speak with you in greater detail.

How can we help?