6 Reasons Printmaking Is Considered an Art

The world has not always considered printmaking a form of art, as its initial purpose was to mass-produce books. Over the centuries, its uses have changed, making it a mainstream art form. But what exactly is it about printmaking that makes it an art?

Printmaking is considered an art because it offers artists a way to express themselves. Like other mainstream art forms, it provides varied styles, different media options, and the option to collaborate. Printmaking is also steeped in tradition, and each print created is considered an original work. In this article we discuss Is Printmaking a Dying Art Form? and I do not believe the answer will surprise you. 

This article will go through each of these reasons in detail. To learn everything you need to know about printmaking as an art, continue reading. 

One. Printmaking Is a Method To Express Yourself

Art has always been a method of self-expression, and printmaking is no exception. The different printing methods available allow you to choose what will let you express yourself to the fullest extent. The techniques are all unique in their styles, allowing for unlimited creativity when translating an image from a drawing into the printmaking matrix.

According to the Metropolitan Museum of ArtOpens in a new tab., the early Western sixteenth century saw artists using prints to explore their own interests. They dove into various subject matter, from commonplace themes to fantastical imagery. Whatever was in their imagination, they began creating with printmaking prints. 

Since then, an exploration into printmaking art has only grown worldwide. Using different media, colors, and tools, you can fully design your creations just as well as if you were painting. The printmaking process has the same capability as painting to express the imagery you wish to share fully, but it has more power because you can readily reproduce it.

Printmaking has also primarily been seen as a method of communication. You can communicate essential themes or concepts to your audience through your creations. If there is an important statement you are trying to make, printmaking can be an ideal method of communication. 

Two. Printmaking Allows for Varied Style

Typical of most art forms, printmaking is not limited to just one style or method. This variety offers you alternativesOpens in a new tab. for the best form of expression, with printmaking techniques ranging from straightforward to complicated. 

Some examples of these techniques include the following:

  • Woodcuts: With woodcut printing, you’ll remove the negative space around the image you want to print. Once you carve the image, coat the matrix with your chosen ink before pressing it onto your chosen material. This process is considered a more complex technique because of the difficulty of carving the wood.
  • Engraving: To use engraving, you will create grooves in your print plate, coat the plate in ink, and wipe the plate to only leave ink remaining in the grooves. For this technique, you will need a printing press to force the paper into the grooves to absorb the ink. Engraving is considered the most challenging printmaking technique to master.
  • Linocuts: You will create linocuts using linoleum. This method is a form of relief printmaking. This form of printmaking is often taught to beginners because it is one of the easiest to learn. However, because of the sponge-like consistency of the linoleum, this method is not ideal for creating fine lines.
  • Collagraphs: A collagraph is a type of relief printmaking, but you create the matrix in reverse. Instead of carving it out, you will build it up with thin materials until you have made the ideal image you are trying to design. This matrix’s impression will have varying textures based on the materials you used to build it.

As you can see from these examples, the techniques produce unique results. You can create different styles of prints and imagery effects based on your chosen method. 

Three. Different Media Options Are Available

As printmaking has changed over the years, so have the available media options. 

We can trace the first prints back to prehistoric people who made repeating images on the walls with their hands with pulverized pigments. Today, the artform has advanced to include paper, fabric, wood, and other materials. Media options include inks, paints, and pigments.

Perhaps the most free license is given to the object you choose to put your matrix on. You can make anything you can carve into a matrix, including a potato. You may even decide to do a monotype print, in which you will only make one print. In the end this is up to you and the direction you want to take as an artist is your own. If you are still pondering on doing prints, we talk about the cons and the pros on our article Should You Make Prints of Your Art? How To Decide. In this case, you can create your matrix on a piece of glass.

Because of the range of material, media, and matrix options available, there is no limit to your creativity with printmaking other than your imagination. Artists have even chosen to make variations within editions, printing from the same matrix on different types of paper or materials. 

Four. Each Print Created Is an Original Work

Each print is considered an original work despite multiple prints typically printed from one matrix. Additionally, many times there are variations between prints that make them unique from one another. 

Instead of being considered copies, these prints are called editions. You will number them accordingly. For example, suppose you have produced 20 good prints from one matrix. You will label them 1/20, 2/20, etc. These are 20 original prints, not copies of a print. 

Five. Printmaking Is Steeped in Tradition

Printmaking has a lot of traditional significance, making it an essential art form. Because of this significance, it has helped shape cultures throughout the world. Many artists learn printmaking because of its historical significance. 

This art form has long been a traditional teaching method. Students who learn printmaking develop problem-solving, communication, and critical thinking skills. 

Six. Printmaking Can Be a Collaborative Effort

Many art forms are collaborative. Printmaking also allows for this type of production. Printmakers often create their matrices and deliver them to professional printersOpens in a new tab., who then make the prints. This practice could be a beneficial arrangement for you if you do not have your own printing press. 

Another form of collaboration is when an artist not skilled in printmaking seeks out a printmaker to create prints they have visualized. While they do not have the skill to do this kind of project independently, the artist can realize their vision through the printmaker’s hand with this collaborative effort.

WATCH – History of PrintmakingOpens in a new tab.

Lara WallaceOpens in a new tab.
Was this article helpful?
YesNo

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.

Recent Posts