Artist proof traditionally meant the preliminary prints that the artist used together with the print house to home in on the right quality reproduction of a work of art.
Today an artist’s proof could equally well be the first in a series of one-off prints. For instance it could be the ones that the artist offers family or friends or signs and sells before creating a series of limited edition art prints. As these 1/1 prints are unique, some artists sign them and write AP to signify they are artist proofs outside a limited edition.
See also Giclee and Bon à tirer, and Serigraphy.
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