Overview

Printmaking is an umbrella term for many individual practices. Some of the main categories of printmaking include lithography, dry point, screen-printing, and woodblock printing. By no means is this an exhaustive list. In its most basic essence, printmaking is using a single matrix to print multiple copies of relatively the same image. Printmaking has been around for hundreds of years, originating back to around the year 200 A.D. in China. It has been tied to different industries and used for different purposes. Printmaking was largely used to make communication easier by allowing for images and text to be printed faster and more consistently.

The art of printmaking isn't for everyone - it can be very methodical and time consuming. There is a lot of trial and error involved and it takes time to master. In addition, it can be an expensive creative pursuit, depending on the specific type of printmaking you choose. Some forms, such as lithography, typically requires a studio with expensive equipment. Other types of printmaking, such as screen printing or wood block printing are more accessible and can be picked up fairly cheaply at home. One huge benefit of printmaking is once you've created your matrix (plate, design, stone, etc.), you can make hundreds of copies of the same image, which can help make up for it's cost.

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Screen Printing Squeegee

Materials

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Printmaking materials will vary greatly depending on which type you choose. Some common materials include a matrix to create the image on, such as a lithography stone, block of wood, or zinc plate. In addition, different kinds of ink is used and printed on varying types of paper. Miscellaneous tools are also used, such as a printing press, a screen, an acid bath, photo emulsion, brayers, and drying racks. 

Many printmaking materials require practice or more formal education/training prior to use. Many cities will have local printmaking studios where you can gain access to presses, drying racks, etc. 

Tips, Tricks, & Resources

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01

Each form of printmaking is different so do some research to figure out which form is the best fit for your interests, skills, and budget

02

Printmaking is methodical with opportunities to 'break the mold'

03

You can get at-home kits for some forms of printmaking, such as wood block and screen printing. You can buy small printing presses for a couple hundred dollars

04

Many prints you'll see are in black and white, but color can easily be added to prints, sometimes by adding in additional layers