Printmaking is a very popular art form and a practical skill. Making a print uses a combination of freedom and control: almost anything can be used to make a print but to make a good clean edition you need a system and some control.
Printmaking includes most anything that lets you make an edition of the same image: Relief Printing (linocuts, woodblocks, potato printing), Intaglio (the ones that need wet paper to pick up the ink from the grooves: etching, drypoint, engraving, etc.), Screenprinting (a kind of stencil you use to apply the ink with a squeegee), Collagraph (building up a surface on a plate with collage), Lithography (water resistant oil forms the image on a stone or plate), even digital printmaking if the first existence of the image is the print (it is not a reproduction of a painting, for instance, but was made as a digital print in the first instance).
Prints can be made with a single plate or block to be printed in just one colour or you can use many plates to layer many colours. Some artists include monoprints in the print family and some think that since it isn’t an edition it is a form of painting. You can also print on textiles.
Serious printmakers eventually get all the right equipment and a press if needed. Many cities have print studios where you can have access to the more expensive equipment for an hourly or weekly fee. But at the beginning you can start printing with very little investment. Some lino blocks, a few basic cutters, a roller and some ink will get you started. You can rub the back of the paper onto the inked lino block with a wooden spoon.
You can learn to do it yourself!
You can learn printmaking at home. We have 45 books in the Printmaking Books Department at Jackson’s Art Supplies. There are books for all levels of artist printmaker – ranging from beginner’s step-by-step introductions to ‘studio tips’ and inspiration for the more advanced.
Here are just a few (shown above):
Block Printing: Techniques for Linoleum and Wood
by Robert Craig and Sandy Allison
Collagraphs and Mixed Media Printmaking (Printmaking HandBook)
by Brenda Hartill and Richard Clarke
Relief Printmaking: a manual of techniques
by Colin Walklin
Practical Mixed-Media Printmaking
by Sarah Riley
The image at the top is
‘The Magic Flute: Doves’ by William Kentridge
from Printmaking: A Complete Guide to Materials and Processes book by Beth Grabowski