What Is a PP (Printers Proof?)

Posted by The Aerosol Art Club Team on 8th Aug 2023

As you build your art collection, a printer’s proof may be an excellent investment. While you may have heard the term, do you know what it is?

Multiple copies of a piece of art are created for various purposes. Knowing the difference between them can be important regarding the value of the artwork.

Today, we’ll review some of the different art proofs you may encounter at the next art fair.

Let’s dive in!

What Is a Printer’s Proof?

Investing in your favorite artist means knowing certain terminology. A myriad of different versions exists of a single piece of artwork.

A printer’s proof (“PP”), sometimes called a repress, is like a final draft. It shows the artist what the design will look like when professionally printed. The proof allows the artist and printer to find mistakes or things they don’t like in the near-final print job.

The PP is the final version, and it can serve two purposes. It’s a print or object that the manufacturer or printer receives as proof of their work. These copies are in addition to the actual print run and not intended for sale. A manufacturer may release their copies if they sell out or on special request.

A printer’s proof is also complimentary – the object or print given to an artist to thank them for their work. There can be multiple copies depending on how many people participated in the production.

What Is the Difference Between a Printer’s Proof and an Artist Proof?

When technology was less advanced, the first prints of an edition were of higher quality. To check the progress during production, people used the artist’s proof.

Over time, print quality would decline. Traditionally, the artists would keep these prints for themselves.

Sometimes an artist creates a print as a working trial. These are likely to have extra notes that show the work’s progress. Some proofs are just for the artist and kept in archives or used for exhibitions.

What Is the Difference Between a Soft and Hard Proof?

Today’s modern technology allows for different types of reviews. The soft proof is an electronic file. They’re usually in PDF format and easily emailed. Additionally, they help to identify errors and are an easy, economical way to review a print job.

The hard proof is a physical sample. It’s for print projects that are more complicated and need more scrutiny. And it also allows for checking colors, fonts, and images. Hard proofs are ideal for artists to ensure the quality of their work before its final print run.

Do Artists Sign Printer’s Proofs?

A signature usually is in pencil or ink if an artist signs the printer’s proof. An artist’s signature was uncommon before the 20th century. However, unsigned impressions of the same print are generally less valuable if the artist did sign their edition.

How do you know what proof you’re buying?

The printer’s proof should contain PP and either Roman or Arabic numerals. The French initials EA mean the same as PP. There should be the mark AP and a number on the artist’s proof.

If you find HC on a print, it means “hors de commerce” (“outside the trade”). The letters indicate the sheets were not to be sold. Instead, they were gifts for institutions, museums, or held in private collections.

Is a Printer’s Proof More Valuable?

PP are like artist’s proofs because they’re both pulled outside the regular edition with fewer of them. Printer’s proofs tend to be rarer than artist’s proofs, making them slightly more valuable.

Despite the value difference, you may find the artist’s proof more desirable to own. Any notes or addendums by the artist are a rare insight into their creative process.

Fewer artist’s proofs exist within an edition, and no more than ten percent of the print job. This increases their price.

The “HC” mark is directly from the artist. Of all the unique prints, the HCs are the most valuable because of their rarity.

What Is Giclée?

Giclée is a French term meaning “to spray,” referring to how an inkjet printer works. Printmaker Jack Duganne coined the term in 1991 for fine art digital prints made on inkjet printers.

Originally, giclée described digital reproductions of conventional artwork (painting or drawing) or photographs. Today, they can be entirely digital, created with computer applications.

Often used by artists, galleries, and print shops, giclée suggests high-quality printing. It’s unregulated with no associated quality warranty and used to charge a higher price.

For a work to be genuinely giclée, certain basic requirements are necessary. The document resolution, choice of paper, ink type, and printer are all required to be giclée.

When scanned for reproduction, the high-quality print must have at least 300 DPI (dots per inch) for more detail in the image. Ink should be pigment-based to last without fading for up to 200 years.

The paper is acid-free and composed of either 100% cotton or a rag base intended for archiving. Using a large commercial printer holding up to 12 ink cartridges will produce a broader range of colors.

What Is a Chop?

In Western culture, it’s common for an artist to sign or initial their name on pieces of original artwork. In Eastern culture, specifically Chinese, it’s customary for an artist to create a chop, an identifying symbol. Artists in China and Japan use this practice to this day.

A chop is a symbol or logo on each print. It includes all proofs and identifies the printer or publisher. Modern western artists are adopting this practice and creating their own marks. A logo identifies their digital works, and the stamp marks traditional original artwork.

Know the Difference Between Art Proofs

As you build your art collection, we hope you find this information helpful. Whether you choose a printer’s proof, an artist’s proof, or other reproduction, we hope this information gives you confidence when making a purchase.

What’s your most recently acquired piece of art? Tell us about it in the comments below.