An artist proof print is a special subset of prints from a limited-edition run, traditionally used to check the quality and progress of the work as it is being printed.
Historically, these proofs were the first prints pulled off a fresh set of plates, serving as a literal “proof” for the artist to examine before mass printing commenced. They allowed the artist to ensure that the plates or screens were carrying the ink correctly, that the colors were as desired, and that the print met their standards in every way.
Artist proofs are marked with “AP” or “A/P” and are considered valuable because they are a small subset separate from the numbered edition. They might differ slightly from the edition if the artist made changes and finalized the print during this proof stage.
Collectors often value them higher than the regular edition due to their rarity and the closeness to the artist’s initial vision. Today, artist proofs are a way for collectors to own a piece that is closely tied to the artist’s creative process.
Header image credit: Finding Paradise by Olivia Palmerini