- Information about Limited-Edition Lithographs -
The term lithograph (literally, stone-picture) comes from the days when art-prints were made by drawing an image directly onto a specially prepared stone. The stone was inked, and then an impression could be made on paper. The invention of photographic plates has mostly replaced the use of stones, but the term "lithograph" remains to distinguish a "fine-art" print from other prints made with basically the same offset-printing process.
The process of creating a Fine-Art print begins with the completion of a painting to be published. First it must be photographed by a large-format camera - usually an 8" x 10" color transparency is required. Lighting is always very difficult: light intensity must be perfectly even over the entire surface of the painting, the color of the light must be perfectly neutral so as not to distort the chromatic structure of the original image, and the lights must be very carefully placed so they do not reflect in any way upon the textured surface of the shiny oil painting. Many exposures are often required to get an acceptable representation of the original image.
The 8" x 10" color transparency is then scanned on a high-resolution drum scanner, and converted into 4 parts: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK). A small proof is created from the 250 Meg file and evaluated for color. Many proofs are often required to get the brightness, contrast, color-balance, and chromatic intensity properly calibrated. Small imperfections in the transparency can be corrected. When a small proof is approved, a full-sized proof is created and inspected for tiny blemishes that might have occurred in the scanning process. Once these imperfections have been corrected the final film is processed - one piece of film for each of the 4 colors on the press.
The film negatives are made into metal plates which are then mounted on the offset press - usually a Heidelburg behemoth the size of a city bus. Special archival inks are prepared and placed in the ink reservoirs. The acid-free paper - carefully chosen for whiteness and strength - is neatly stacked at the feeder end of the press. The pressman yells, "Give me 50!", and the print run begins. He must match the proof which hangs over his desk, and many modifications may have to be made: more or less pressure between the blankets and the plates (through which the paper flows), less yellow here but more magenta there, a fleck of paper on the blanket or a blemish on the plate, cyan slightly out of registration... A press proof can take several hours, but eventually everything comes together and the print run is approved.
Now the prints must be signed and inspected, and yes, I actually do this myself. All defective prints are rejected. And once the prints are signed they must be carefully bundled to ensure that they are not damaged in shipment. Only the amount indicated on each print exist - 950 for example, plus 50 artist's proofs. The plates have been destroyed, and once an edition is sold out the film and the voided samples will also be destroyed. An image produced as a Limited-Edition cannot be re-released in another edition - not even in another size. When the 1000 prints are of a particular image are sold, that image is no longer available: Limited means limited - forever.
This whole process takes several months. At every stage of production, only the highest standards are acceptable. The artist must endeavor to get the finest product possible, and describe any desired revision and/or correction in the precise technical language of the technicians he is dealing with. It is a very time consuming procedure. And because only archival materials may be used in the production of Limited-Edition prints, it is also a very expensive procedure.
I would like to thank Charles Hope, ABL Photography, Downey Film Systems, Signature Press, and especially my publisher, Eureka Publishing, for working so hard for the publication of these beautiful prints. I look forward to collaborating with all of these fine people again in the future.
The Entrance Foyer to
The Goddess Art of Jonathon Earl Bowser