Limited Editions

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by cowboy, Feb 9, 2010.

  1. I have been signing my limited Edition framed photo's on the photo it self. I've be told that I should sign the mat and not the photo, which to me would lessen the value. Anybody know anything about this?
  2. Hello Jeff, Definitely sign the mat, not the photo. Ink is not usually archival, for one. I also sign in pencil because carbon is more archival than ink. There are a number of ways of signing prints, but I might suggest you spend some time at a print or photo exhibit or museum and see how this is handled. I worked for a major museum for awhile, and normally the signature is in pencil on the right side, on the mat, below the picture or artwork. The edition is usually in the middle, or left side, and the title is on the left side.
  3. david_henderson


    Opinion on this varies- there are a few threads on that you could usefully look up.
    On gloss papers I'll generally sign, add edition number, date and title where appropriate the overmats in pencil and then sign the reverse of the print in a border area and add the edition number. If the material is such that pencil won't take I use a Staedler pigment liner, which may well be as archival as the prints, is indelible, lightfast and waterproof on paper.
    if you do decide to sign etc on the face of a gloss print with a pen, test the pen first- you want something that doesn't give a signature that shines when viewed at an angle to the light, and that it dries instantly.
    On matte papers I'll use a pencil and sign, date etc the print itself in the border. Unless of course one decides to mount to the print edge without showing a border at all, in which case revert to the above.
    The most difficult scenario IMO is the borderless glossy print in a frame with no mount. Its not a style I like and I don't do it, but I've seen people sign in a black, gold or silver pen on the print itself.
  4. I can't speak to anyone else's experience or to the conventions of other markets, of course, but the modern commercial gallery market universally expects a signed and editioned print. At any time even slightly removed from the date of original sale, this is the only method dealers and collectors can use to demonstrate that the print is a rare, desirable object.
    Additionally, the vast majority of prints sold (by my galleries at least) are sold unmatted and unframed. Among those sold framed, many are reframed immediately to match the collector's decor.
    Like David, I use a Staedler pigment liner to sign in the border of the print, an area that is usually overmatted during exhibitions. If the print face cannot accomodate a signature, convention dictates signing on the back of the print.
  5. Never sign the mat. Look at photography exhibitions in museums and good galleries (not craft/co-operartive galleries or street fairs). Two generally accepted methods are signing the back of the print in pencil or pigment pen if the paper is coated. Or the front under the image area; in which case the window mat can either cover the signature, or reveal by having the window cut larger.
    For pigment pens, I recommend the 0.2mm Sakura Pigma Micron whose ink is pigment-based (rather than dye/solvent based) and is archival. They're about $3 in art stores.
  6. I sign my prints with india ink (a pigment ink). I do it the old fashioned way -- by dipping a fine, drafting pen into an ink well. I do this prior to spraying with a lacquer over-coat. My signature is very small and fits within a 1/4" visible margin around the print. I include this 1/4" margin in my mattings, but it can also be covered up. I also print the title of the image in the lower left in the same margin space.
    I sign in black, but the signature could also be light gray through dilution of the ink.
  7. I have a show coming up and many of my prints will just be borderless and dry mounted on foam core to keep costs down (for me and potential buyers). I can't decide if I should sign the front of the print, back of the print, or back of the foam core. In the past I have signed the front of the print like I would for one of my paintings, but I'm not always happy with how that looks. Any suggestions for this kind of scenario?
  8. Matt, you can find "india ink" (or at least pigment-based ink) in many colors. I bought a set with small bottles including black, white, red, green, blue, and yellow. That allows me to sign in almost any color. (You can mix drops of different colors for any special color you need). If you print with Ultrachrome inks, you can also use those. Before you toss any cartridge, draw out any left over ink (there will be some) and squirt it into a small bottle.
  9. Matt, if you are using a non-reversible dry mounting material to display your prints, I would first urge you to reconsider a reversible, archival solution. In which case, signing the back of the print would seem reasonable.
    If you must use a non-archival mount, I think it would be acceptable to sign the mounting board. Signing and numbering a print serves to demonstrate its provenance and rarity and, in this case, the backing board would never become separated from the print.
    That said, please consider using a mounting method that will help your art to last as long as possible.
  10. I use pencil on fiber based b&w prints. Doesn't work so well on RC paper and some inkjet papers, depends on the surface finish.
    Ditto the Sakura Micron pens. I've used 'em for years on photo prints and watercolors, they last, don't fade, don't bleed into properly sized papers and don't appear to cause any problems. I used to use India or calligraphic inks and Speedball pens but my hands aren't steady enough anymore.

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