The Art of Printmaking

Understand the Printmaking Process

A few posts ago I introduced 3 different types of printmaking that fine art appraisers look for when identifying prints. I would like to revisit the subject by describing 3 more types to better understand the printmaking process.

Silkscreen/Serigraph – Fabric (usually silk, nylon or polyester) is tightly stretched over a frame. A stencil is made by painting a nonporous blocking material over all portions of the screen that the artist does not want to print, leaving the mesh open where printing is desired. Ink is then mixed along one edge of the screen. With a rubber squeegee, the artist pulls the ink across the screen, forcing ink through the screen in the unblocked areas.

Lastly, The above process can be done for each desired color by cleaning the blocker and making a new stencil. Serigraphs came into common usage as an art form. When an art appraiser is inspecting this type of fine art print, evidence of the steps above will be noted. Check-out a few of Andy Warhol serigraphs or watch the video on printmaking.

The more you know…

Digital Prnting (Giclee) – This print type began in early 1990s and can only be used to print one at a time. This process uses an Iris printer and computer to spray ink directly onto watercolor paper. The computer ensures accuracy and color matching. The artist can print just one or a limited edition which includes defined amount of prints.

Offset Prints – This is a photomechanical printing process in which an original in one medium (oil or watercolor) is photographed. Four-color printing plates are made from the photograph. The plate passes through the press mixing red, yellow, blue, and black dots that visually mimic the original. Considered a copy image and can be printed by the thousands without any change to the plate. Can be called open editions or can be limited editions if controlled by the artist.

Another point to keep in mind, if a print is numbered the first number is the edition and the second is the edition size, for example 15/150. A lower edition size would lead to the conclusion of higher value as opposed to a high edition size such as 15/1000 which could be seen as a photomechanical copy of lesser value.

Understanding the Printmaking Process you will make you a better informed collector. You will also be able to discuss your print with an appraiser. Have questions about your print? We’d be happy to help, give us a call.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *