What is an AP or Artist Proof? Demystifying Edition acronyms for Art Collectors

Whether you're an avid art lover or a seasoned collector, there's always something magical about owning a piece of art that's not just your everyday print. You've probably heard of the terms "AP," "HC," and main show editions thrown around in collectors forums etc. but what do they actually mean, and why are they so coveted?

Today, we're uncovering the secrets of APs, HCs, and regular editions for you, courtesy of your friends at Invisible Industries!!

Now, let's unveil the hidden treasures behind these abbreviations!

AP stands for - Artist’s Proof
Artist's Proofs are like the golden ticket in the world of art. Think of them as the artist's personal stash of prints, separate from the main edition. Here's the scoop:

Limited Availability: AP’s are typically much more limited in number. Traditionally they consisted of about 10-12% of the main run but today that number differs. Their more limited nature makes them rare and highly sought after by collectors. The addition of hand numbering is a plus ands adds to their allure. You will find that Artist proofs are usually priced higher than the main run.

Artist's Signature: APs are signed by the artist. Many collectors tend to look for proofs signed by the artist.

Printing Tradition: AP’s are usually created alongside the regular edition prints to ensure quality and authenticity. Traditionally, artists used AP’s to make sure the colors and details were spot-on before giving the green light for the main run, although modern printing no longer requires this sort of quality control due to improvement of printing techniques.

Variants: APs may sometimes differ from the main edition. These variant prints can be anything from color changes to hand-embellishments by the artist. This means owning an AP is like owning a special, one-of-a-kind version of the artwork.

HC - Hors de Commerce: which means "out of trade" in French.
HC’s are handpicked by the artist and intended for select individuals like bandmembers and management. They're not part of the regular edition and not sold. 

Numbered SE (Show Editions)
Main Show editions are typically more accessible to a broader audience. Unlike AP’s and HC’s, which are exclusive and limited, Main editions are often produced in higher numbers to cater to a much larger market.

Unsigned Prints: One key distinction is that regular edition prints are usually not signed by the artist. This makes them more affordable and approachable for art enthusiasts who may not be looking for a collector's item but still want to enjoy and display a numbered artwork.

Main editions maintain a high standard of quality, ensuring that art lovers can enjoy the essence of the artist's work.

Due to their higher availability and lack of artist signatures, regular edition prints are typically more budget-friendly, making art accessible to a broader audience.


Open Edition and Un-numbered SE
These are prints that can be produced in an unlimited quantity. They are not limited in number and not usually numbered or signed, and they are typically more affordable than limited edition prints. If the publisher produces 2000 prints and sells them all they can always produce more to restock.


We hope this helps you make the proper choices for your collection!