What is an original Print?
'Printmaking' is a broad term that encapsulates a number of techniques and processes, from etchings to monotype to screen printing, in which the artist makes images from a master or 'matrix'. Prints can be classified according to the type of surface used to make them. These are divided into four groups; Intaglio, Relief, Stencil and Lithograph. These procedures are complex, frequently used in combination and are in constant state of revision and refinement, but regardless of type, they share common characteristics.
Why buy prints?
Print is a great way to learn about artistic process, discover new artists, and experiment with your tastes and confidence. It can also be a shrewd investment.
Because there is often more than one ‘impression’ of any one printed image, it is inevitable that it is often easier to find - and afford - an original print than an oil or watercolour by a certain artist. The price will depend on the quality and the date of the printing. The nature of editioning can mean you are able to introduce original works by some of the worlds top artists at a fraction of the cost.
Relief printing is where the areas around the image to be printed are cut away, leaving the image on the block in relief. The raised areas are then inked and transferred onto a second surface, usually paper. Think of potato printing as a child – this is a very basic style of relief printing.
Intaglio printing uses various methods of 'cutting' and image onto the surface of a metal plate. Once the plate is inked, the incised lines hold the ink whilst the rest of the plate is wiped clean. The plate, in contact with damp paper, is passed through a roller press under pressure. The paper is forced into the sunken areas to receive the ink.The inked lines on the finished surface are often slightly raised and there is generally a visible line around the image where the plate has been pressed into the paper, called the platemark. The presence of a platemark is a good way of telling an intaglio print from a relief or planographic print. Engraving, etching, drypoint, carborundum, aquatint and mezzotint are the most common types of intaglio printmaking. Many printmakers combine different intaglio techniques when they work on their plates and for this reason it is not unusual to see a contemporary print described simply as intaglio.
In addition to the traditional relief and intaglio processes, which involve cutting into a block or plate, there are other methods of printmaking which do not, known as planographic processes. Traditionally the term planographic relates primarily to lithography but in recent years its usage has grown to encompass screenprint, and the various photomechanical and digital processes.