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Submitted on
July 6, 2007


43 (who?)
I would like to offer this as a feature on “Traditional Printmaking” with a view to bringing about an awareness of this lesser known, maybe somewhat neglected art form, (lesser known here at DA) and to let others know that traditional printmaking is alive here at deviantART.

Firstly I feel there is a need to clarify the difference between the terms "print" and  “Traditional Printmaking” as used here at DA and possibly at other art sites around the web as well.

Prints = Any artwork or photograph that has been uploaded at a high enough resolution to be purchased in some form be it on a flat 2 dimensional surface or on a surface such as a mug or t-shirt.  These are photomechanical reproductions of original artworks.

Traditional Printmaking = Artwork that has been created by transferring an impression from one object onto another two-dimensional surface.  For example, as from wood with the creation of a woodblock print, from metal in the creation of an etching or from the many other inkable surfaces that can be used as a matrix for a traditional print.  These are original artworks.

Printmaking is one of the oldest and most basic of art forms.  Palaeontologists have found the oldest known "prints" when they discovered dinosaur foot impressions in earth that was once wet clay.  

From the time of the ancient Chinese and from Dürer artists have used and developed methods of reproducing images on paper.  These fine art print techniques have developed and continued to evolved over time.

Forensic scientists use the most basic of printmaking tools to help solve crimes when they take and look at human fingerprints during the course of their investigations.

One of the first pieces of art a child can do is a handprint. Left to their own devices to find their materials, their end product might not be terribly desired by mom and might result in some cleaning house, but it is creative non-the less. Finger painting comes to mind here as well. I will let you imagine all the other permutations of these early artistic endeavors.  

Traditional printmaking techniques fall into four categories.

  1. RELIEF – Woodcut, Linocut and some Collographs
  2. INTAGLIO – Etching, Drypoint, Mezzotint, Aquatint
  3. SERIGRAPHY – Silkscreen
  4. PLANOGRAPHIC – Lithography

There is also Monotype – Any print or mixture of print techniques that produces a “one off” print.  Some collographs may fit here as well. This is also useful to help understand what traditional printmaking is.

Here at DA there are listed under “Traditional Printmaking” the following print types that we can classify our submissions into.  
    Collagraph Dry Needle? – Drypoint is the correct term for this. Etching Lino Lithograph Monotype Silk Screen Woodblock

If your having trouble finding these categories then try in the first instance looking under “Text & Typography”. For some reason someone seems to think Traditional Printmaking belongs there – maybe they equate the word "print" with “text” as in printing = writing.  But anyway this is where you will find Traditional Printmaking here at DA.

To follow are some examples of the great creative work that has been and is being uploaded to this area at DA.  I have tried to provide, with them some basic explanation of what each print type involves.

Collagraph – is a print taken from a collage of materials that have been clued or adhered to a supporting surface.  They can be simple or very rich in texture.
Some might also classify prints done with a mixture of print types as a collagraph.  These mixture prints could sometimes be classified as monotype as well possibly.

Garden by Adelaida  resonance by stigmatattoo   Something Fishy by HelenParkinson  Collagraph - Meet Market by JetJames  

Drypoint  (not dryneedle as listed) – Both this and etching could come under a broader heading of intaglio printmaking.  Intaglio prints all have the image to be printed below the surface of the plate. With drypoint the lines and tones are hand-scratched into the surface of the plate with the lines and burr holding the ink.  In most cases the traditional surface to do this on is metal.  Zinc and copper are two of the most common metals used with a more readily available option being Perspex.

Carys by Catharsisky  pigbee man by terezarsm   Ratty by Go-Angel

Engraving and mezzotint could also be included in this category possibly as they both are dry techniques.  Engraving is crisper and cleaner than drypoint. Mezzotint involves the whole surface of the plate having a fine even texture added to it. The artist then scrapes and burnishes the surface to make varying degrees of smooth surfaces that will result in lighter shades when printed.

Shoes by guitarsallly  coming to terms by yohabroha  Some mezzotint examples.

Etching – Another print type that should be under the broader heading of intaglio printmaking.  Acid and acid resistant grounds are used to create the image on the plate for this printmaking method.

:thumb57281275:  Dizzy Leaves by thuja  Pink Orchids by HelenParkinson  Blood Shark by bigredsharks

Lino – These are relief prints done from a plate that has had the image cut or gouged into it and then the raised surface is inked with the cut image being the white or lighter areas of the print.  Potato prints done as a child work in the same manner, as do woodblock prints and stamps.

:thumb51132723:   inside out by PunkDisaster   Linoleum Dreamscape by TaxiOnna

Lithograph – this print form is based on the concept that grease and water don’t mix.  The image is developed with materials that have an affinity to grease.  Special litho pencils, crayons, wax crayons and liquid tusche are among some of the things that can be used to create the greasy image on the surface. The stone or metal with the image on it is then sponged down and inked. The ink sticks to the greasy image and is repelled by the wet areas with no image on them.  The print is then taken.  

Ampolletas y Alambres by arti-fundios   Ladybug, Ladybug by tribs28  Blue Kitty by Electrikshock

Monotype – mono meaning “one” so these types of prints are one off prints.  Traditionally they can be subtractive (reductive) – the surface is completely inked and ink is wiped away and then printed, or additive (direct) where the image is painted or applied directly to the surface and then printed.  However any print or combination of print techniques that produces only one print impression can come into this category.

  Factory Girl by goosehonker   Beach Find 3 by HelenParkinson

Silk Screen – This uses stencils of one form or another with a screen where the ink is forced through the stencil to reveal the image on the printed surface.  Stencils can be cut or created with emulsions.  

Snowdrops 2 by kickass-peanut  a quick step by kiati2000   Damien Rice poster by JasonGoad

Woodblock – As with lino prints these are created with lines being cut or gouged out of the surface.  These marks form the white or light areas when the plate is inked on the raised surface and then printed.  Reduction prints are a process where by several layers are printed on top of each other with more cutting into the surface occurring between registrations.

Zebra Resting by bekaboo   Firey Ginkgos by mLeeFineArt  untitled dead poet woodcut by stigmatattoo  Seafood Print by HelenParkinson

There are a few places that one can go here on DA to find and view good traditional prints.  There are a couple of groups that cater to this art form.  :iconprintmakers: & :iconprintmakingclub:

One of the newest traditional art gallery directors has a wonderful collection of traditional prints. :iconstigmatattoo:  If you want to see just his prints then follow this… would also be the best person to recommend any traditional prints for a daily deviation as well. :)

Thank you for your time in reading this and I hope it has been of interest.
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Daicelf Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2007  Professional General Artist
I have always thought the term "original print" sufficed to differentiate between handpulled and photomechanical / digital "reproduction"images.
seanathan Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2007  Student
shouldn't collagraph be put under intaglio since it utilizes printing FROM the groove?
Catharsisky Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2007
It doesn't always though.
We were taught it was a relief, I know you ink it more like an intaglio... but you can also do a surface roll, and it does sit on top of the plate, and it certainly all ways worked better for me in the relief press than the intaglio press. Meh! Splitting hairs!
pdRydia Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2007
I didn't know dA had a category for etchings--thanks for the article. :]
karincharlotte Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2007   Traditional Artist
Excellent article, Helen! Thanks for making me aware that there is another art form out there, that deserves more attention.
I have been lucky enough to try various forms of printmaking in High-school, but it has been a long time, due to the cost and space needed to create prints. You certainly inpired me to revisit printmaking as a possible means of making art. Your article did point out that printmaking can be simple (even kids can do it).
Warm regards!
Karin :heart: :wave:
Layla-c Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2007
Dragounlady Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2007
I love the article.
I have found printmaking facinating ever scince I took a course in it in collage.
I have a few prints, mostly drypoint, posted. I'd love to make more but it's hard to get a hold of a press, LOL.
I would suggest that anyone who can get a chance should try printmaking, theres a style for almost anyone.
selfishtears Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2007  Professional Photographer
thanks for the article... I've been experimenting with printmaking a bit recently. Lino printing is fun.
Orchidorca Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2007  Professional Traditional Artist
Brings you back to basics after being lost in this digital world. Great article! :painter:
dreamimesis Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2007   Interface Designer
great article. really inspiring. thanx
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