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Prints and Printmaking Explained


In this digital age, a few words about the discipline of printmaking…


To produce what is termed ‘an original print’, there are four main techniques or processes: intaglio, relief printing, screen printing (or serigraphy) and lithography. Original prints are usually produced in numbered limited editions. The term variable edition (e.v.) is applied to a numbered edition where each print is slightly different. An artist’s proof (A/P) is a print pulled before the series is editioned. Unique (1/1) refers to a print that is either a monoprint or monotype and therefore cannot be editioned.


This process includes etching, drypoint, aquatint and collagraph. Etching plates are usually made of copper or zinc and can either be etched by hand or by soaking in acid having blocked the areas of the plate one wants to keep smooth. With collagraph, the plate is usually made of card or other flat surface onto which textures are glued and/or into which the image is cut. Drypoint is a metal or perspex plate into which an image is scratched or engraved by hand. To print a plate made by any of these methods, ink is rubbed into the grooves and then the plate is cleaned and polished to remove excess ink. The plate is then placed on the etching press, damp paper placed on top and they are then passed through the press.

Relief Printing

Woodcuts and linocuts are both forms of relief printing, where the image is carved out of the ‘plate’ and ink is applied to the surface, usually with a roller. The plate is placed on top of the paper in the press. Other materials, such as card, leaves and feathers can also be inked up and printed in this way.


Printmakers working at Kite Studios

Hybrid Printmaking

A technique where different printmaking processes are combined to create experimental and innovative art not restricted by the conventions of one particular discipline.

Screen Printing

This involves creating an image by passing ink through a fine silk screen, using stencils to create the image and a squeegee to pull the ink across the screen. The stencils can either be paper shapes placed under the screen onto the paper to be printed or created on the actual screen by using a photographic technique. 



This involves drawing an image in wax or other oily substance applied to a lithographic stone as the medium to transfer ink to the printed sheet. Smooth aluminium can also be used. This is not a process used at Kite Studios.

Original prints are not to be confused with giclée prints

These are digital reproductions of works of art on archival paper. Many artists produce giclée prints of their work in limited editions. These are not original hand pulled prints.

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