Glossary of Art Terms

Here’s some art lingo so you know what you’re looking at. 

There are prints made by the old printing methods and then there are the  new modern digital prints. The old printing methods require a lot more hand work and very expensive paper (sometimes several dollars per sheet) so you can expect their costs to be much higher.

 On the other hand, the digitally printed ones can be just as satisfying to own and, once on the wall, under glass look almost as good. 

Artist’s Proof: When an artist is getting set to make prints, he watches the prints come off the press and calls out color adjustments to be made by the printer such as “More blue” or somesuch. These are similar to “pilot” prototypes where automakers are testing out the assembly procedure. Sometimes artists sell the proofs as well as the limited editions that follow. 

Embellished print: This is where an artist takes an already printed print, be it on paper or canvas, and lays on new paint. It can just be a small dab or two or an 

Gallery-wrapped; When a canvas print is wrapped around a wooden frame. With this type, you don’t need a frame.

Giclee (pronounced GHEE CLAY) A print made by inkjets. It can be on paper or  canvas

Glaze A glaze is just a see-through coat, like varnish, that protects a print from fading. Some glazes are high gloss.

Impressionistic: This is where only the essence of the subject is portrayed, not a lot of crisp details. 

Limited Edition: That is when a set of prints is made by the artist, all in one fell swoop, and numbered from start to finish. So if it’s a limited editon of 25, the first one would be numbered 1/25 and so on. 

Screen Print

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.”

Super-realism (also called Photo-realism) This is where at first glance it looks like a photograph, with the same hard-edged shadows.