What is an Artist’s Proof (AP)?

Originally used to check the progress of prints during their production, artist’s proofs (or APs) are produced especially for the artist. These prints are not included in the count of the edition, but are otherwise identical to the editioned prints. Typically, they are kept for the artist’s archives and used for exhibition purposes. Although they are not generally sold straight away, if ever, some collectors prefer to purchase APs, due to their rarity and to the fact that they belonged to the artist’s own archive and collection originally.

Artist proofs are marked with the initials AP and a number, when applicable. The number of artist proofs produced often relates to the size of the edition run (see What is an Edition?) and is always decided by the artist. The French initials EA, short for épreuve d’artiste, carry the same meaning. PP and H.C. can also be found on graphic works, and stand in turn for Printer’s Proof (see What is a printer’s proof?) and Hors de Commerce (meaning not for sale). Such prints are produced to donate to museums and public institution collections.

Glossary of prints and editions