Graphic Artworks

What is Graphic Artwork?

The first thing we must ask ourselves is: what is graphic artwork? Although the concept of graphic artwork is usually associated with engraving, engraving is only one of the many and varied techniques that we can encompass under the wide range of graphic work, which share the common objective of creating limited series of artworks from the transfer of an image from one medium to another Although the production of the graphic work responds to the artist’s need to create several copies of the same work and, therefore, is serialized, it would not be fair to speak of mere reproductions, since each of the pieces that make up the series will have a direct intervention from the artist, who in the first instance makes the matrix, performs the printing through various artisan processes and even intervenes afterwards, working on the print in order to obtain different effects and thus achieving totally unique works despite its serial character.

The graphic artwork and its main procedures

Beyond engraving and lithography, the procedures for creating original graphic works are numerous and diverse. From old woodcuts to avant-garde offset paper, most printing techniques share a similar process in which the artist works on an original support, such as a metal plate, a wooden board or a piece of silk, which will serve to transfer that image to another medium – generally paper or cloth – a certain number of times. Although it is easy to find a common process, each one of the techniques used for the creation of original graphic work is peculiar and different from the others, achieving different effects and creative possibilities. Some of the most common techniques are engraving, lithography or screen printing.

Essential requirements that the Original Graphic Artwork must meet

Given the variety of techniques and procedures used for the production of graphic work, it is necessary to take into account a series of parameters when establishing whether a lithography, engraving or screen printing can be considered original graphic work or if, on the contrary, it is a reproduction. To do this, we draw on the principles established in 1960 at the III International Congress of Artists held in Vienna, the points of which can be summarized as follows:
  • In the first place, the artist must intervene directly in the creation of the work, preparing the matrix in charge of transferring the image, although the print can be made by the painter or by another person, in which case his signature may appear on the left from that of the author. Copies made by photomechanical processes are not considered original graphic work.
  • Each of the copies must be signed, either on plate or by hand, and numbered so that the number of each work and the total number of copies that make up the print run are clearly specified, the volume of which is decided exclusively by the artist.
  •  It must also be indicated by the corresponding acronyms which copies are author’s proofs or workshop proofs, the volume of which cannot be more than 10% of the total of the series.
  • Another of the established principles when safeguarding the guarantee of originality of the graphic work is to destroy or mark the plates once the edition is finished, in order to avoid the creation of new copies.

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