These works are printed on permanent watercolor cotton rag papers with ultrachrome pigment inks. Prints of archival quality such as this can last unchanged for up to 200 years, but usually are considered to be safe from change, fade, or color-shift for at least 70 years with normal care. Normal care means avoiding direct sunlight, dampness, scratches or rough handling of the surface of the print, just as you would take care with any work of art.
This type of fine art printing used to be called "giclee" because the papers have a special gel coating that accurately absorbs and holds the inks. This name was trendy in the early development of the process, but the correct name for this type of artwork is "ultrachrome" or "digital" print.
WHAT IT MEANS:
Fine art prints are not at all like the commercial mechanically produced pictures you buy in the store. Those have been mass-produced by the millions and are all the same. Original giclée prints in the ultrachrome process are nothing like that, in either quality or intention. This is not like comparing apples to oranges, this is like comparing apples to the hanging Gardens of Babylon.
Ultra chrome prints are hand-printed, one at a time, in small batches (editions) of as many as 25 or 50, or as few as one. There are sometimes subtle or even significant differences between one printing edition and another, differences in color and tone that may be influenced by inks, papers, or even the weather at the time of creation of an individual print. This type of print is not quite repeatable, ever, and sometimes there may be only one edition, and only a few prints in existence, ever made.
Every print is hand-titled, numbered, and signed by the artist. Its ID number will be written, for example: 6/25, meaning this is the sixth print pulled by the artist in a unique edition of 25 prints. Sometimes a print may be ID’d with “A/P” instead of a number. This means “artist’s proof.” These are especially valuable because they are each the first print pulled by the artist to determine whether it is exactly what s/he wanted to achieve in this work.
Numerous examples of limited edition art prints like these can be found in museums throughout the world, including the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Art, and the British Museum.
In the simplest terms, when you buy a fine art ultrachrome print, you are not buying a reproduction of a work of art, you are buying a work of art.