Art Terminology

Some of the terminology used in describing art prints and the print making process can be confusing. Here is a quick and easy glossary of some of the technical terms that you will find used on our website.


An art print is a graphic image that has been duplicated one or more times. There are various techniques used to create an art print, such as serigraphy (or silk screening), lithography, etching, and offset printing.


Generally the difference is in the level of quality. Posters are typically printed in large volumes on less expensive thinner paper whereas fine art prints are printed with careful attention to true color reproduction using higher quality inks on thicker art paper.


A Limited Edition is a single run of a fixed number of identical prints. This could be anything from 20 or 200. Each print is individually numbered and often signed by the artist. For example, 20/100 would indicate edition number 20 from a total print run of 100 editions. The exclusive nature of a limited edition print effectively raises its value and, therefore, its price.


Unlike limited edition prints, open addition prints may be endlessly reproduced. Because there's no limit to the number of prints that can be made, an open edition print is priced lower than a limited edition print.


Giclée (pronounced "jhee-clay") is a sophisticated inkjet printing process that combines pigment inks and archival quality, acid-free paper to produce gallery or museum quality fine art prints. The giclée printing process provides superior colour accuracy than other means of print reproduction and is considered to be the pinnacle of printmaking technology.


A lithograph is created using a printing technique based on the principle that oil and water do not mix. Using oil-based ink or a grease crayon, an image is drawn on a flat stone or metal plate. Water is applied to the surface and is repelled by the areas where oil-based images have been drawn. The entire surface is then coated with an oil-based ink that adheres only to the areas drawn in oil, ink or crayon. The image is then printed on paper. Lithography became a popular printing technique because thousands of exact replicas could be made that were like drawings on paper, without degradation of the image.


Offset lithography is an industrialized version of the same printing technique as lithography. By using modern printing presses, high-quality reproductions are produced faster and in higher volumes than with manually-produced lithographs.


A serigraph is an original silk-screen color print. Serigraphy (or silk screening) is a stencil process in which ink is forced onto the material through the meshes of a silk or organdy screen, which has been prepared to have pervious printing areas and impervious nonprinting areas.


 In terms of resolution, a giclee print has the highest resolution and colour range. Giclee printmaking offers one of the highest degrees of accuracy and richness of color available in any reproductions technique. Giclee printmaking provides a luminosity and brilliance that represents the artist's original work better than any reproduction technique available today.

A serigraph is created when paint is 'pushed' through a silkscreen onto paper or canvas. A different screen is used for each colour in the print, and this results in a print with great colour density and many qualities of the original piece in terms of color saturation. This process also adds some texture to the final product.

A lithograph is the least manually intensive reproduction technique, and in turn, is not as expensive as a serigraph or giclee. Although images can have a high resolution, and excellent appearance, they will not have the same degree of resolution or colour density as a serigraph or giclee.


Acid-free paper has been treated to neutralize its natural acidity in order to protect fine art and photographic prints from discoloration and deterioration.


 A form of stencil printing in which the stencil is adhered to a fine screen for support. Ink can be squeegeed through the screen onto paper. Screen printing can have a hard edged quality caused by the crisp edges of the stencil. Also referred to as "silk screen" and "serigraphy."


The term GSM refers to the substance weight of paper, relating to an area of paper that remains constant, irrespective of sheet size, expressed as grams per square metre. As a starting point, standard printer paper is generally around 80gsm. Typically the higher the GSM the heavier (and generally, the thicker) the paper. Art prints will typically have a GSM ranging between 250gsm– 350gsm.


A painting consisting of two distinct panels. The format of the pictures may be landscape or portrait, but they will usually be the same size. It is sometimes a continuous but divided image, or may be composed of separate, closely related images.