Artists Proofs (and Other Types of Proofs)
In my last post about Signed & No. prints I mentioned 'Artist's Proofs' or AP prints. There are many different kinds of proofs an artist can make. I typically only create AP prints, but I'll go ahead and cover the others as well.
An Artist Proof serves as a guide for the artist and the printer when creating prints from an original piece of artwork. These prints typically stay in the artist's personal collection, or can be given away as a 'proof', not a print. If the artist decides to print more than one AP, then the total number printed shouldn't be more than 10% of the prints created in the Signed & No. batch.
For example: if you print 200 Signed & No. prints, you shouldn't print more than 20 Artist Proofs.
These are numbered in the same style as the Signed & No. prints, except you would number them with Roman numerals (AP I/XX for 1/20). These proofs are always marked 'AP' and signed by the artist. There isn't a need to include a COD (certificate of authenticity) because these proofs are not for sale.
The reason you might want to print out a series of Artist's Proofs would be to either show the progress of the proofs before landing on one that would be considered good enough for a print, or to give some away (which I do from time to time). Showing the progress of the proofs leading up to the final product can add value to your work for collectors. However, this might not be true until after the artist's death. By giving away some of your proofs, you're able to give previews of your art and show your appreciation for collectors and supporters.
Bon A Tirer
A Bon A Tirer, or 'Good to Print', is a single proof created for the printer to reference. These are actually very common today as many artists (including myself) don't create their own prints. I outsource to a company here in Dallas called Coupralux.
How a Bon A Tirer proof works is the printer will create a single proof and the artist will approve it (easy!). In this instance, there isn't any need to go through reprinting because the printer got the colors and tones correct in the first run. You wouldn't, however, print any additional proofs like you might with an AP series. These are single prints that are kept in the artists collection and are NOT for sale or to be given away.
Technically, my proofs would be considered Bon A Tirer. The printing service I use does an amazing job at color and tonal matching before they create a proof, and I've never yet had to have them correct anything. However I do like to give away some proofs, so I tend to print out more than just one. In which case, my proofs would fall under the AP category.
Printer's proofs are created specifically for the printer or printing staff that created your prints. These are typically given as 'Thank You' gifts. The number of PP's created will depend on how many people worked on creating your prints.
Just like the other types of proofs mentioned, you would sign these and mark them 'PP' for 'Printer's Proof'. It isn't very common to create these types of proofs any longer, but you will occasionally see them in circulation. If you have a dedicated printing staff, it's a wonderful way to show your appreciation for their work.
These are some of the most popular types of proofs you might create or see in circulation. Again, a proof is different than a print because it isn't for sale or part of a series. The sole purpose of a proof is to approve the colors, tones, and methods for creating your prints, and therefore may be flawed.
They can be part of their own edition, separate from the Signed & No. print editions. But again, you would never sell a proof. They either stay in your personal collection or can be given away as tokens of appreciation or promotion. Because they aren't always perfect (like a print should be) you could risk hurting your reputation for creating outstanding work. A proof edition would read something like this:
20 Artist's Proofs - AP I/XX - XX/XX (1/20 - 20/20)
1 Bon A Tirer Proof
3 Printer's Proofs - PP 1/3 - 3/3
Total Proofs in the Edition: 24
If you have any further questions about proofs or how/why to create them for your own artwork, please leave me a comment below or send me a message. I hope you found this helpful!