A print is a work of graphic art which has been conceived by the artist to be realized as an original work of art, rather than a copy of a work in another medium. Prints are produced by drawing or carving an image onto a hard surface (known as a matrix) such as a wood block, metal plate, or stone. This surface is then inked and the image is transferred to paper or another material by the application of pressure, thus creating an impression, or print. The printed image that results is the exact reverse of the image on the plate.
Unlike paintings or drawings, prints usually exist in multiple impressions, each of which has been created from the same inked plate. Artists began to sign and number each impression around the turn of the 20th century to ensure that only the impressions they intended to make would be in circulation. The set of identical impressions (prints) made from an individual matrix created by the artist, either working alone or in conjunction with a master printer are called an edition. Plates are not to be used in subsequent printmaking runs without the artist’s explicit authorization. The process of printing the edition is therefore just as important to the authenticity of a print as the act of inscribing the image onto the plate.