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How to Sign a Print

In traditional printmaking there are specific guidelines to follow when signing a print. These guidelines are a must to follow if you’re creating block prints, lithographs, etchings, and any other form of hand-pulled printmaking.

When it comes to signing a giclee print, which includes a scan of the original or photograph, the guidelines are much simpler.

This post will review best practices for both forms of printing.

How to Sign A Hand-Pulled Print

Here are the guidelines:

  • Prints must always be signed in pencil
  • The artist name and date are to be signed on the bottom right side of a print just below the printed image. Never on the image!
  • The title of the print is to be written in the center of the image just below the printed image. It’s also common to put the title in parentheses or inverse commas. (Occasionally artist who do not made editions will sign their title more to the bottom left side of the print.)
  • Limited Editions are to be marked on the bottom left side of the print just below the printed image, and are most commonly marked like a fraction. For example if you are marking the 12th print out of a limited edition of 50 prints made at one time, it would look like: 12/50
  • Open Editions (there are no set limits to how many prints that are made) and Monoprints (a single printed image) would leave the bottom left side under a print blank because there are no editions to mark.
  • There are a few less common marks that can also be found on the bottom left side under a print such as, A/P which means artist proof, or T/P which means trial proof that are good to be aware of, but I would worry too much unless you are a serious printmaker.

It’s not always necessary to include all of the above information, but what you do include should always be marked consistently in the same location on all your prints. Being consistent when signing your prints is the single most important thing you can do! Sometime this alone can settle copyright disputes.

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