Printmaking is the process of creating prints with an element of originality, rather than just being a photographic reproduction of a painting. Each piece produced is not a copy but considered an original, since it is not a reproduction of another work.
These multiples are usually limited in number depending on the method used and are marked accordingly e.g. example 1/10, 2/25 etc. depicting the number produced.
You may find some prints shown as A/P, which means Artist’s Proof and these are the first prints produced for the artist to check the quality and make any adjustments necessary.
In relief printmaking, the plate is created by starting with a flat original surface, and then removing by carving/cutting away areas intended to be white. The plate is inked-up, the surface area holds the ink and the recessed areas are ink free.
Printing the image is a relatively simple matter. The inked plate is brought into firm contact with paper and pressure applied. A printing press may not be needed as the back of the paper can be rubbed or pressed by hand with a simple tool such as a brayer or roller.
Intaglio printing techniques include; etching, aquatint, engraving, mezzotint, drypoint and collagraph as well as a variety of associated techniques.
Intaglio printmaking is the direct opposite of the relief process; ink is transferred onto the paper from the lower levels of the plate and a printing press is vital, as the amount of pressure needed to force the paper down into the depths of the plate is immense. The incised line in the plate holds the ink while the surface is wiped clean. Only the line prints when dampened paper is placed on the plate and both are run through the etching press, with enough pressure to force the paper into the lines.
A monoprint/monotype is a one-print method. An image is made on a nonabsorbent surface such as glass, metal or plastic with inks or paints and transferred onto a piece of paper by placing the sheet of paper on the prepared surface and rubbing the back with the hand or a rubbing tool. If metal or plastic are used, these can be put through a printing press.
The monoprint is a unique image and cannot be duplicated, nor can an edition be made as in other printmaking methods. Alternatively the surface can be inked, a piece of paper placed on top and tools such as pencils, crayons, fingers etc., can be used to draw on the paper and the ink below is transferred to the under-surface of the paper.
This method of making a print is based on the fact that grease and water do not mix. Zinc or aluminium lithographic plates, limestone slabs or specially coated paper plates will all absorb grease. An image is made by drawing directly onto them with grease-based materials.
Printing is carried out by keeping the non-image area damp, when an ink-charged roller can be safely passed over the plate, inking-up the greasy image only. Lithography is probably the most common method of commercial printing, but perhaps the least used method in printmaking.
Silk-screen printing is essentially a stencil method that uses fabric stretched on a frame to hold the stencil designs and ink is dragged across the mesh, allowing it to print onto the paper in selected areas only. Stencils can be made from a great variety of materials and depending on the material used the number of prints produced will vary.
N.B. Fine Art Prints do not include photocopies, ink-jet and giclee prints.
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