The art of signing original prints, a guide for printmakers, explaining how to sign original prints according to traditional printmaking. Article by Booba Prints

The Art of Signing Original Prints: A Guide for Printmakers

In the world of printmaking, the creation of a piece is a journey of passion and patience, skill, and meticulous craftsmanship. From conceiving your idea, carving linoleum blocks to the final press, each part is a step in the way to the final result. Yet, there's one final, personal touch that should not be overlooked: signing the original prints. This is a the final stage that I look forward to. This act is not just a form of authentication; it's a signature, quite literally, of the artist's pride and connection to their work. Today, we'll chat about the nuances of signing original prints in the traditional way, ensuring that your mark is as thoughtful as every cut and press that brought your art to life. 

The Tradition of Signing Prints

Historically, signing prints is a practice that dates back to the earliest days of printmaking. It serves multiple purposes: verifying the print as an original, indicating the artist's approval of the work, and, in many cases, providing essential details about the print edition. This tradition remains a crucial part of printmaking, echoing the unique relationship between artist and creation. Also, there is something magical in knowing that we can sign our work as many artists did, so many years ago, and by that keeping the tradition alive. Moreover, I think there is something rather personal in hand signing your name to a piece of art. 

Where to Sign Your Prints

The conventional spot to sign your print is in the bottom margin. There are generally three components to this:

  • The Signature: Traditionally, the signature is placed on the bottom right-hand side of the print. Using a pencil is standard practice, as it ensures the signature becomes an integral, permanent part of the artwork without risk of fading over time like some inks.
  • The Edition Number: On the bottom left-hand side, the artist notes the edition number (e.g., 1/50, indicating the first print in a limited edition of fifty). This numbering provides insight into the exclusivity and sequence of the print within its edition.
  • The Title: Often, artists choose to write the title of the print in the center of the bottom margin. While not a universal practice, it can add a layer of connection and meaning between the artwork and its audience.

The art of signing original prints, a guide for printmakers, how to sign your original artwork in line with traditional printmaking. relief printmaking signing, article by Booba Prints

    Signing An Open Edition

    When signing an open edition of prints, include the abbreviation "OE" alongside your signature and the date. "OE" stands for Open Edition, indicating the print is part of an unlimited series. Place your signature in the bottom right corner of the print, followed by the date of creation. Then, add "OE" next to or beneath the title to clearly denote the print's edition status. This method ensures clarity and maintains the art's integrity, allowing collectors to understand the nature of their print at a glance.

    The art of signing your original prints, a guide for printmakers. How to sign an open edition print? explaining how to sign a print with an open edition. Article by Booba Prints

    Tips for Signing Original Prints

    • Use the Right Tools: A high-quality, archival pencil ensures that your signature and details endure as long as the print itself. Avoid materials that can fade or damage the paper over time.
    • Consistency is Key: Especially for editions, maintaining a consistent location and style for your signature and numbering adds professionalism and makes each piece recognizably part of a broader collection.
    • Personalize with Care: While your signature is inherently personal, consider how it represents you and your art. Some artists opt for a more formal approach with full names, while others prefer initials or a monogram. 
    • Inform Your Audience: If you’re selling your prints, offering a brief explanation about the significance of the edition numbering, signature, and any other markings on the print can enhance the buyer's appreciation and understanding of the piece.

    What To Take From This

    Signing original prints is a practice steeped in tradition, adding a layer of authenticity, value, and connection to your work. It’s the final, personal stamp that says, "This is my creation, and I stand by it." As you continue to explore the rich and rewarding path of printmaking, remember that how you sign your works is as much a part of your artistic expression as the print itself. Let your signature be a proud, lasting mark of your dedication to your craft and your unique voice in the art world ✏️

    * This blog post is about the traditional practice of signing original prints. I have used that method for some of my prints, as well as just use my initial for others. This is just a little reminder that you can sign your art however you please!

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