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I have a pack of Bristol board with me today at work (I'm using it as a carrier for something), and I happened to read the description.

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Bristol vellum surface
Acid free. Heavy weight. For finished artwork - dry media.

"Finished artwork"? Am I supposed to somehow finish my artwork on some other substrate, and then magically transfer it to the Bristol board only once it's done? That makes no sense, obviously, so I'm thinking finished artwork must be a "term of art" that means something different than what the words sound like. However, both words are very, very common, so searching for a definition is pretty much hopeless.

In the context of a label on a pack of paper, what does "for finished artwork" mean?

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A 'finished' artwork is a piece that has been worked to a particular level of detail. There are various levels of 'finish' from a basic outline to a 'finished' sketch, then from a basic drawing to a highly 'finished' piece of work. To give an example, an artist might do a rough sketch of an idea and then a more detailed sketch or a colour sketch or even create a study for the whole piece or just a small section of the entire drawing/painting. From that he/she might create a 'finished' piece for exhibition. The sketches and studies might be made on cheap paper or canvas (sometimes on the back of an envelope) but the 'finished' piece would be made on the best quality paper/canvas etc. So in the context of your Bristol board, it is a high quality paper that would be used for 'finished' artwork. You could make sketches and transfer them to you good quality paper or you could draw directly onto it, it is your choice.

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In the paper industry, paper finishing refers to the final treatment a paper surface receives to give it the characteristics and properties you want, depending on your desired application.

In this case, I believe the label means to indicate that this paper is appropriate for artwork needing a finished surface, specifically stipulating dry media.

It would be like going to an art store and picking up a blank canvas where the package labeling might say something like, "for canvas art — oil and water-based media."

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