How Long Do Linocuts Usually Last?

Exquisite art can take the form of linocuts. The printmaking technique used is an excellent outlet for creativity and can result in some very aesthetically pleasing prints. Naturally, you’d want the best of your pieces to last, but you may also be wondering just for how long they can do so.

How Long Do Linocuts Usually Last?

Linocuts can last hundreds of years, provided they are printed on archival acid-free paper using quality ink and pigments. Storage conditions also factor into their longevity. They should be kept in acid-free folios or framed in conservation materials away from direct light and in suitable humidity.

In this article, I will shed some light on what you need to preserve the quality of your linocuts so the pleasure of viewing your art in their pristine condition can be had for years to come. So, How Long Do Linocuts Usually Last? A long time.

Can Linocuts Really Last for Years?

The linocut printmaking process can be traced back to the early 20th century in North America, when the Taller de Gráfica Popular printing workshop in Mexico City used this technique to powerful effect in their revolutionary social causes. 

However, most artists initially looked down on the linocut process, viewing it as a less technical and skillfully demanding artform. 

It wasn’t until Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse took up this medium that linocuts found due appreciation within the art community. 

Linocuts can really last for years, some of Picasso’s and Matisse’s finest linocut prints can be viewed in certain museums and galleries and are in excellent condition today despite having been created in the 1900s. 

Victoria and Albert MuseumOpens in a new tab.

Types of Materials

Storage is often the first thing that comes to mind where the enduring quality of linocuts is concerned. To start with, the prints should be impressed using high-grade ink and paper.

Robert Truszkowski, an Art professor at the University of Regina and known on YouTubeOpens in a new tab. and InstagramOpens in a new tab. as Professor Truszkowski, notes that the only issue in the survivability of linocuts lies in the care and investment poured into their creation. 

“Lino cut [sic] printing is often a young artists [sic] first foray into Print. As a result, they aren’t going to be as careful about handling their work, nor about necessarily investing in professional quality materials,” Professor Truszkowski explains. 

He further adds that artists “may choose to print on cheap paper, using inks or pigments of questionable provenance.” 

While it goes without saying that linocuts printed using budget-friendly materials won’t last very long, it makes sense for the novice to try their hand at this medium with more affordable stock.

On top of that, Professor Truszkowski points out that “that sort of work isn’t conceptually concerned with longevity.”

However, for artists who are looking to create prints for the ages, high-quality ink and paper are nonnegotiable.


There is a selection of papers that can be used to print linocuts and they’re readily available in art stores. It’s choosing which type that poses a challenge.

Most printmakers swear by Japanese paper, but other artists may consider certain factors such as the texture of the paper. It ultimately boils down to individual preference. 

However, one characteristic of paper is vital for a long-lasting linocut: Paper should be archival acid-free.

Non-Acid-Free Paper

Regular or non-acid-free paper doesn’t age well, and the yellowing and wrinkling won’t be a good look for your linocuts. Environmental factors are responsible for this unflattering alteration which takes place because paper absorbs acid compounds present in the atmosphere.

These compounds cause the coloration and wrinkling characteristic of old paper. This is why archival acid-free paper is essential for artwork in general.

Archival Acid-Free Paper

Alkaline papermaking is employed in producing archival acid-free paperOpens in a new tab.. In this process, the pulp used to create these sheets has a pH above 7, as anything below that is acidic.

Apadana 3 Pack Unbuffered Acid Free Tissue Paper 20 X 30 Inches 25 Sheets Each 75 Sheets Total Opens in a new tab.
  • 75 sheets.
  • Non-tarnishing: Keeps fine jewelry and silverware from tarnishing.
  • PH Level: Neutral

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Archival acid-free paper is further buffered with an alkaline reserve to counter acid compounds that come in contact with it. For that reason, this specific type of paper is the go-to for most art students and professional artists as it ensures that their creations will stand the test of time – physically, that is.

You will also need to print your designs on this same type of paper Opens in a new tab.if you want a long and vibrant future for your linocuts. The type of paper will depend on the kind of finishing you would like to have.


Immaculate paper is just half the story. The type of ink you print with is of equally important consideration. 

As with other particulars with the paper, the choice of ink falls to an artist’s personal preference. Some artists opt for oil-based inks, while others are partial to non-oil-based ones. Whichever of these you choose, the inks will need to be colorfast for any chance of the linocuts lasting hundreds of years.

The top-quality paper won’t count for much if the design has dulled over time. That is why you need colorfast inks. They’re guaranteed to give your prints an enduring vibrance. 

Care for Linocuts

Caring for your linocuts means storing them properly. Checking the temperature of the storage space is also essential, since different humidity levels could cause irreparable damage to your linocuts.


For art pieces to last a century, let alone a couple of years, they must be stored properly. In the case of linocuts, these very simple steps should be observed:

1. Make sure the ink has completely dried. This typically takes a few days, with two to four days being the most common allowance.

2. Place the print in an archival acid-free folder. Ideally, prints should have individual folders. However, if there is a need for more than one print to go into a single folder, lay a sheet of archival acid-free paper in between each piece.

3. Keep the folder in a planchest or filing cabinet. If you’re keen on your prints retaining their quality for years, invest in a metal plan chest. It will cost more but provide the most suitable storage dimensions without a wooden alternative’s chemical emissions. 


Storage is the best way to preserve your artwork, but if you have a linocut print that you’re particularly proud of, you’ll likely want to put it up for all to see and admire.

In this case, you may display your print using conservation framing techniques. This is the best way to maximize preservation without keeping it safely stored away. 

Additionally, you should hang up the frame away from direct light, both natural and artificial, as it can cause the color on your prints to fade in the long run.


Whether in storage or framed on the wall, humidity is a threat to the longevity of your linocuts, with both high humidity and low humidity leading to irreversible damage.

For instance, high humidity creates a suitable environment for the growth of molds and fungi and attracts pests that will damage your prints. On the other hand, low humidity can dry outOpens in a new tab. your linocuts and cause the paper to shrink and warp. 

To avert humidity-related deterioration in linocuts, you should regulate humidity between 40% and 60% in the rooms where your prints are stored or framed.

Final Words

Linocuts are fine works of art that have the potential to last hundreds of years. If the right materials go into the printing process and suitable storage conditions are met, those who view your art long after you are gone will see it just as you did when you first created it.

WATCH – Picasso linocuts acquired by the British MuseumOpens in a new tab.

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Caraca's self-taught artist based in the UK, Ines explores unconventional materials and sustainability.

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