Is Printmaking Hard? 6 Things To Know

Printmaking’s a lot of fun; you can use it to create beautiful, bold, inked designs. Once you’ve completed a print, you can use it repeatedly, which will help save you some time. However, printmaking is one of the more demanding fine arts.

Printmaking is hard but worthwhile. You can experiment with different forms of printmaking and inks, allowing you to create stunning art. All forms of fine art are complex, but with enough dedication, you can master printmaking.

This article covers everything you should know about printmaking before you dive in. Whether you’re learning in a class or alone, you’ll want to learn as much as possible to make the process easier. Let’s begin!

Things To Know Before You Try Printmaking

Printmaking is a great experience to have. It’s challenging, changes how you think about art, and lets you express yourself in new, unique ways. It is hard, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it. 

Here are six things you should know before you start printmaking:

All Forms of Art Are Challenging

First, all forms of art are challenging. If you’re learning a new art technique, it will not be easy, no matter what it is.

Printmaking is also a lot of trial and error. You’ll make mistakes, but you’ll also grow from them, and you can take that experience to your next print. You won’t progress in printmaking if you don’t challenge yourself with what you create.

There Are Four Types of Printmaking

Next, you’ll want to know about the different types of printmaking. Most people usually prefer one over the others, while they struggle with some.

These types of printmaking include:

  • Relief: You carve sections out of a wood block or other materials. Do notice that the wood carving tools can also be used on linoleum. For more information on that topic, you can read our article on Can You Use Wood Carving Tools on Linoleum?. Then, you apply ink to the raised areas you didn’t cut.
  • Intaglio: You scratch your design onto a plate, then fill the scratches with ink. The print comes from the areas that you cut into. You’ll need to learn how to use a printing press with this method.
  • Lithography: You use a grease pencil or crayon to draw on your plate, then soak it in water. The ink sticks to the grease, which creates your design. 
  • Screenprinting: You varnish a silkscreen, then push ink through the areas without the varnish. This process is often used for creating t-shirts.

You Need To Reverse the Art

Printmaking can be hard to wrap your head around because you need to do everything in reverse. If you carve letters into your block to appear normal to you, they’ll be backward in print.

New printmakers take time to learn to reverse all their art on the blocks they make, making learning harder than other art forms.

You Need To Be Careful With the Tools

Additionally, you’ll use many sharp tools to carve your blocks. It’s easy to cut yourself while carving accidentally. Another thing to keep in mind is that printmakers use a lot of harsh, flammable chemicals, so you’ll want to be careful during the printing process.

Printing Can Be a Workout

As you carve your block, you’ll need to put a lot of pressure on your arms and upper body. The printing press can also take a lot of strength to use, depending on what you have access to.

Lastly, you’ll probably be making multiple prints in a row, so you’ll need good endurance. Many new printmakers feel sore the day after creating a series of images.

You Don’t Need To Throw Out Leftover Ink

Finally, you’ll use a lot of ink with each print, but you don’t need to throw away what you don’t use. Instead, you can scrape it up and keep it for your subsequent work. Many new printmakers toss their leftover ink, which makes it more complicated since they’ll need to pay for more sooner.

You can save your printmaking inkOpens in a new tab. in small, airtight containers. Doing so can make printmaking easier and more cost-efficient — you won’t have to mix the same shade of ink the next time you want to print. After sealing the ink, it should last a few days before it dries out, so you will need to use it quickly.

Why Is Printmaking So Demanding?

Printmaking requires your complete focus for hours at a time. These artists first sketch ideas for the print, then carve them into their plates. They’ll test the designs multiple times, using different inks and colors, until they get a proof they like.

Often, an artist will make a print, then notice one area they want to change. They’ll print again and might want to change something else. This process can make printing demanding because you must constantly reset all your printing tools. However, when you put a lot of effort into creating a print, the results are sure to be worth it.

According to artist Jun LeeOpens in a new tab., printmaking is physically intense and can feel unpredictable, making it one of the more demanding art forms. However, you’ll learn more about using the materials as you practice. 

How Do I Get Better at Printmaking?

The only way to get better at printmaking is to make many prints. Once you have carved yours, you can use it multiple times to make prints. You’ll learn to make each image better than the last as you work. Once you have many copies, you can choose the best ones.

When it comes to printmaking, you can make multiple prints, then check them for errors. You might notice that your image is too dark or could look better in certain areas. You can adjust the following print, allowing you to learn and grow with each copy you create.

Overall, you can only get better at printmaking by making more prints. It’s a lot of fun to compare your prints and see how you’ve grown as an artist with each new copy.

Final Thoughts

To summarize, printmaking is hard, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to learn. With enough dedication, you can create stunning prints. Printmaking has tons of uses, so it’s a wonderful skill. All types of art are challenging, too, as they take a long time to learn.

You’ll want to know about the four different types of printmaking and try each. Many people find they usually gravitate towards one of them.

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Ines

Ines is a self-taught artist based in the UK. Originally from Caracas, she has dabbled in the world of arts and crafts in a diversity of ways participating in city intervention projects, sustainable practices’ open exhibitions, and her illustrations being featured in anniversary editions of literary magazines.

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