I thought it might be helpful for people who haven’t been exposed to the traditional Printmaking processes to write a little bit about them. I am NOT a printmaking expert, but I have dabbled in a couple of the printmaking techniques, of which there are many, including Etching (various techniques), Linocut, Woodcut, Lithography, Screen Printing and so on. Many of these were standard fare in the production of books and newspapers in the days before photographic techniques and now computer imaging took over.
The REAL Art Print as an Art Original
One of my dearest mentors, Rona Swallow of Kerikeri, who had a degree in Fine Arts and who was a print maker all her life, used to berate me passionately about the modern use of the word “print”. And she was absolutely right.
“These printouts they sell off printing machines are NOT prints,” she would say. “They are REPRODUCTIONS! Real PRINTS are original artworks, produced by hand, by artists, and they are true works of art.”
Well, Rona has now gone to the Happy Printmaking Grounds, and I have to say that though her words are always ringing in my ears, and I agree totally with what she said, it was obvious some time ago that we were looking at a lost cause. Sad to say, the new imaging processes have become so very easy, and so available to all and sundry with a computer, that for most people the word ‘print’ means something spat out by their Canon, Epson or whatever – or a reproduction made by a commercial digital printing process.
Having said that, the skills involved in producing “real” prints are so advanced that the works and skills themselves are always going to hold a very special place in the art world. And real prints will always be “Originals”.
As a tribute to Rona, I’d just like to end this first posting with one of her lovely works, entitled “Flight” It’s not just the design and creation of the plate that are so special here. She has applied the ink to this plate with extreme skill, producing a gradient effect of three colors. This might not be hard to do in a computer, but believe me it takes a real expert to do this on a plate, and then go on to produce a limited edition of pretty much identical prints, when each one has to be inked by hand individually!
Bear in mind, too, that with most of these printmaking techniques, the design AND the printing plate – whatever form it takes – have to be created in reverse.
Click below or the links in the navigation bar for more about the different techniques of Print Making: