What is an original print?

An original print is an artwork that has been manually created and printed by an artist. It is not a reproduction of an original. Each print is handcrafted in its own right.

The print may have been created in a variety of ways: by being etched into a plate, or drawn onto a silkscreen, or engraved out of a block of wood. The finished work is only created by inking up and taking an impression from this plate, stone or block. The work does not exist in any other form.

How are original prints made?

There are many different mediums of printmaking – here’s a quick introduction of some of the processes used by our own members:

Relief Printmaking: Linocut, Woodcut, & Engraving

The artist carves the design into a piece of linoleum (lino) or wood then uses a roller to ink the remaining raised areas. The block of wood or lino then passes through a printing press to transfer the image on to paper. Relief methods can also be printed by hand, without a press. There can be many layers of carving and inking-up to create the final print. See linocuts by Matthew Braithwaite and Gerard McMenamin.

Intaglio: Etching, Engraving, Mezzotint, Drypoint

From Italian meaning: incised

The image is scratched, cut or etched with acid into a metal plate – and the incised grooves holds the ink (as opposed to a print like a linocut where the surfaces left in ‘relief’, i.e. not cut away, holds the ink). It may be combined with other techniques, such as ‘aquatint’, which is used to achieve tonal shading. See etchings by Cara Donaghey and Stephanie Gaumond.

Screenprint

This is essentially a stencil created from a fabric screen – originally silk, hence the term ‘silkscreen’ – stretched tightly over a frame. Screenprints can use both handdrawn and photographic processes. Ink is pushed through the screen to create prints. See screenprints by  Naomi Arbuthnot and Studio Súilí .

Collagraph

Derived from the Greek ‘colla’ (glue) and ‘graph’ (to draw)

Collagraph plates are created from a collage of materials of various textures glued to a printing plate, often thin wood or cardboard. The plate is then inked up and printed either manually or by press. Collagraphs can utilise both relief and intaglio printing, meaning the ink can sit atop the raised textures on the plate or within the grooves made in the plate. See examples by Sue Morris.

Monotype

This is a one-off print, a unique impression printed off card, glass, perspex, metal or any other flat surface; it cannot be repeated in identical form as it is not made from a block or other semi-permanent printing matrix. This quick and painterly printmaking medium is very painterly and can be printed both by hand or through a press. See examples of monoprints by Jane Turner Moore.