WHAT IS PRINTMAKING?

When I started to explore my creativity, printmaking is what I fell in love with. Now when I create, it's almost exclusively in the form of prints. But what is a print, and how does printmaking work? Let's explore that together in this post.

Printmaking is the process of printing motifs or patterns onto a surface, with the help of ink and pressure. This method is very old, and was first discovered in China around 255 B.C. Since then, printmaking has been around in different forms all over the world. Think of the way the first books were printed. The same invention that revolutionized the world of knowledge also made a huge impact on the visual arts.

What is printmaking

USING A MATRIX

Before a motif can be printed, is has to be carved out or created on a surface. This surface is called a "matrix" and refers to the original art that the printmaker creates. The matrix can be created by carving on a block of wood, metal or linoleum (a type of plastic), or by gluing objects onto a surface. There are many different methods and mediums within printmaking, which is what makes it so exciting!

When the matrix is ready, the printmaker applies ink to it. Then, often via the help of a machine, the matrix is pressed against a piece of paper. This creates a unique imprint of the motif on the paper, called an "impression". Since the ink applies differently every time the matrix is pressed to paper, each print is an original piece of art and not a copy. A series of impressions created from a particular matrix is called an "edition", and the artist might sign and number each print within it. In some cases the matrix might only be usable a certain number of times before it has to be discarded, which makes the series of prints created from it a limited edition.

A PRINT IS AN ORIGINAL PIECE OF ART

This is what separates printmaking from what is called printed reproductions. While a printed reproduction is an exact copy of an existing artwork, such as a photograph or a painting, a print is an original piece of art.

Are you as fascinated as I am by printmaking, and its many possibilities? Check out the blog posts below to dive deeper into the world of printmaking. These explore some of my favourite techniques and tips for how you can get started with printmaking yourself, including videos and images showing printmaking in action. 

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