Printmaking is one of the old crafts from medieval times, used to produce books and bibles for mass production. Over time some artists found greater interest in the beautiful appearance of prints. It became more popular for the artists to produce limited prints.
Ukiyoe, Japanese wood block prints, had also been initially used for mass publishing, then some of the publishers started to produce limited editions by popular artists for merchandise production.
Printmaking is the first medium I explored in my art practice when I enrolled at The National Art School in Sydney. I create prints mainly using intaglio copper etching techniques with different types of processes. My view of the beauty of the printmaking process and appearance is that printed images through the printing press always reveal unexpected surprises with marks, scratches and ink densities on each copper plate. I have researched different procedures to recreate inner spiritual abstractions in two-dimensional forms. I use multiple plates, which are layered; multiple same-sized copper plates for one image. Each process as it is run through the press with the embossing of each copper plate results in a tangible physical mark on the pager that gives the final image a characteristic texture.
Printmaking can be divided into four main categories;
Relief printing – monoprints, linocut, woodcut and wood engraving:
In these 3 types of relief printing techniques, the original flat surface of the wood or linoleum block is the printing surface. Any part of the surface that is not designed to be printed is cut away, leaving the image to be printed in relief. It is the most famous woodblock prints are Japanese Ukiyoe. They used as mass producing magazines and posters with Kabuki actors, beautiful women and landscapes. However, after the Maiji restoration many of original prints were sold to overseas collectors therefore, there are not many of them were left in Japan.
I produce some monoprints applying ink directly onto a copper plate with various patterns. I often use multiple plates to create intricate images with colours.
Intaglio printing – etching, drypoint and mezzotint:
These methods are usually used on metal plates such as copper or zinc. The design is incised or etched by acid into the surface. After this process ink is pushed into the sunken lines on the plate surface, which is then passed though the printing press under heavy pressure. The inked mark or lines will transfer on to the paper. There are a few other intaglio methods to create various marks and images, such as spit bite, aquatint and soap ground etc.
Lithography is a planographic printing process using a lithograph stone or metal plate. The image is drawn with lithographic crayons and ‘sets’ into the grain of the surface. After applying the lithographic ink to the surface, the plate can pass though the offset press. The paper will pick up the inked image on the plate. There are few quite famous example lithographs in 19th century such as Toulouse-Lautrec (above), his lithographs were used for theatre posters with beautiful colours and exotic posture with women.
Basically, screen-printing is a stencilling process using stretched fine mesh screen which transmits an even layer of ink under pressure. The blank areas are coated with an impermeable substance which cannot be printed on. The printing method moves ink into the unblocked opened areas by the fill blade or squeegee onto the surface such as paper, T-shirts, posters, vinyl, wood or stickers during the squeegee stroke. For a multi-coloured image, primary only one colour is printed at a time, so a few screens can be used. It is also known as silk-screen or serigraphy. Andy Warhol’s screen print (sometimes calls silk screen) are still very popular American pop art in market, sometimes they sells with very expensive results in art auctions.