Printmaking Methods

Printmaking is a way for artists to make multiple original copies of an artwork.  Usually they create an image on a “matrix” such as wood, metal, stencil or stone and repeatedly ink it and press it against paper.

For carved and etched matrices, the artist can apply ink in two ways.  She creates a relief print by rolling the ink onto the surface of the matrix before pressing it onto the paper.  Or she can rub ink into the recesses of the matrix and off of the plate relief surfaces to produce an intaglio print.

Wood Block:  The artist carves an image into wood and then prints it in relief.  The oldest known woodblock print was printed 800 years ago in Japan.

Linocut:  The printmaker carves into a linoleum matrix and then prints the image in relief.

Etchings:  The artist engraves or etches the image into the surface of a metal plate and prints it using relief or intaglio methods.

Lithograph:  The artist draws on a stone and treats it to take advantage of the fact that oil-based inks will not adhere to wet surfaces.

Silk Screen Print:  The printmaker applies ink to the paper through a stencil and porous screen.

Monotype:  The artist applies ink to a blank flat matrix yielding a unique artwork with each print.

Chine-collé:   The artist glues a thin paper to part or all of the print’s primary paper before printing.

Editions:  Most printing methods permit multiple original copies to be made.  The artist may limit the number to preserve artistic quality and value.  An “ev” annotation to the edition indicates that the edition copies may vary in paper and inks used.

Monoprint:  Monoprints have elements that may vary from one work to the next.