What is an original print ?
An original print is a work of art created by hand and printed by hand, either by the artist or by a professional assistant (often called an artisan), from a plate, block, stone, or stencil that has been hand created by the artist for the sole purpose of producing the desired image. The plates or stencils it is printed from bear no resemblance to the finished work of art, which means it is not a copy or a reproduction of anything. In fact, in all print media but two, the image on the matrix (what the print is produced from) is mirror image or backwards from what the finished work will be. The image reverses in the printing process so the artist has to think and draw backwards. Each print produced is technically a unique work although produced as a signed and numbered multiple. The technical term for this is monoprint. The original print is usually produced as a limited number of impressions, another word for print. The term for this group of prints is the edition. Although there are many of the same image in an edition, each print is an individual part of the whole, the whole being the edition. An original print is actually one piece of a multiple original work of art.
Glossary of printmaking terms
del.: delineavit, Latin term for « drawn by » following an artist’s name in the inscription and indicating the author of the drawing
lith.: indicate the name of the lithograph. pinx.: pinxit, Latin term for « painted by » » following an artist’s name in the inscription and indicating the author of the composition
sc., sculp.: sculpsit, « engraved by » following the printmaker’s name in the inscription.
f., fe.: fecit, Latin term for « made by » following an artist’s name in the inscription
inv.: invenit, Latin term for « designed by » following an artist’s name in the inscription and indicating the author of the composition
inc. : incidit, Latin term for « engraved by » following the printmaker’s name in the inscription
ex.: from the latin excudit, the artist who executed or published the print Usually, the name of the artist is lower left under the image and the name of the printer is lower right.
CPDR. or APDR.: Avec privilège du Roi, An inscription on a print indicating official registration in France, used between 1686 and 1790.
State : An impression taken from the plate at a particular moment or stage of the development and distinguised from impression taken at other times during that process .
Edition : The total number of impression pulled of a single image or set of images from the same matrix. Matrix : The base from which the print is made (woodblock, metal plate, lithographic stone…)
Glossary of technical terms
A relief print is the opposite of an intaglio. In a relief print, the image is taken from the surface and the grooves and pits are ink free. Woodcuts, wood engravings, relief etchings and linoleum cuts are relief techniques in which the artist cuts or etches away the lines and areas which are not to be inked for the finished print. In a relief print, the paper is placed on the surface and the ink is transferred to it by rubbing the paper with a wooden spoon or a Japanese Baren, or by running the paper and plate, block or collographic image through a press. Woodcut : A relief technique where the image or design is left raised above what is carved out of the wood. What is not carved is printed. Linocut : A relief process, like a woodcut, where the artist carves the design out of the linoleum or linoleum mounted onto wood.
Intaglio is a process in which the image is obtained by pulling the ink out of the grooves and pits lower than the surface of a metal or plexiglass plate. The grooves and pits may be formed by any method including scratching (drypoint), etching (acid action), or incising (engraving). Thick ink is forced into the grooves and pits and the high surface areas are carefully wiped clean. Damp paper is placed on the surface of the plate and both are runthrough a press under great pressure, pulling the ink out of the depressions in the plate. This painstaking inking and wiping process is repeated for each color and for each print.
Etching : process in which a composition is drawn with an etching needle on a metal plate covered with an acid-resistant ground. The plate is then immersed in acid, which bites the plate where the ground has been removed by the etching needle. Engraving : process in which a plate is marked or incised directly with a burin or other metal-marking tool.
Drypoint : process in which a plate is marked or incised directly with a needle. The drypoint line can look very much like an etched line but is usually lighter and characterized by the existence of burr.
Aquatint : An etching process in which tone is created by treating the plate with fine particles of acid-resistant material (resin) and then placing the plate in an acid bath. The acid bites into the plate between the grain of resin and, when printed, the mass of tiny spots produces a textured area with tonal effects similar to watercolour.
Mezzotint : this process flourished in England in the eighteenth century as the chosen method for reproducing paintings. In mezzotint, the surface of the plate is uniformly roughened with a fine-toothed, crescent-shaped tool called a rocker . If inked at this stage, the plate would print a solid velvety black. Instead, the desired image is worked on the plate by smoothing areas of the rough textured surface with burnishers and scrapers to create varying degrees of tone from dark to light.
STENCIL (screenprint, silk screen)
In a screenprint or silk print, finely woven, sheer fabric is stretched over a frame to form a screen. Non-image areas are blocked out or clogged, and ink is forced through the open areas of the screen with a squeegee to the paper which is directly positioned beneath the open mesh of the screen. This basic process is varied by the artist depending on the effect the artist wants to achieve.
Lithography is a direct printing method which utilizes the antipathy of water and grease. A drawing is made directly on thick limestone, or a zinc or paper plate with a greasy pencil, crayon or ink (tusche). The tusche may be diluted with solvents and brushed on in washes to produce tones from light to very dark. When the drawing is completed, the stone is processed with gum arabic and acids, making the open areas hydrophilic (water loving) and the image more grease receptive and water repellent. In stone lithography, the stone on the press and is kept damp while ink is rolled evenly onto the image with a napped leather roller, the moist open areas repelling the ink. Paper is placed on the stone or plate and covered with a smooth lubricated tympan. A scraper bar applies pressure of about 500 pounds per square inch as the plate is moved through the press, forcing ink into the fibers of the paper. As with all printmaking techniques, the image must be inked for each impression.
Glossary of papers
Laid paper : a sheet characterised by pronounced laid and chain wiremarks imprinted on the wet surface of the sheet by the wire cover of the mould.
Wove paper : in the mid-18th C. the Elder Whatman devised a mould which had a woven brass wire-cloth cover giving it the potential of producing a sheet unblemished by the furrows formerly found in laid paper; this was wove paper (or Papier Vélin in continental terminology). The first example of wove paper used in the West is to be found in Baskerville's printing of Virgil in 1757.
Japon paper : A thick paper produced in Japan from native fibers that are of relatively great length. This kind of paper has a very cloudy formation and is tough and durable. The color is usually cream or natural, and the paper is finished with a smooth surface.
China paper and Chine appliqué : China paper is a very thin paper, originally made in China. A chine appliqué or chine collé is a print in which the image is impressed onto a thin sheet of China (or other similar) paper which is backed by a stronger, thicker sheet. China paper takes an intaglio impression more easily than regular paper, so chine appliqué prints generally show a richer impression than standard prints. Watermark: A watermark is a design embossed into a piece of paper during its production and used for identification of the paper and papermaker. The watermark can be seen when the paper is held up to light.