There are prints and there are Prints

16 June 2008 at 5:12 am 4 comments

There’s so much discussion on Etsy lately about prints and printmaking.  As technology keeps expanding phenomonally and materials and techniques change, the possibilities for reproductions are endless.nude

But, as someone whose art school emphasis was in printmaking, I know what a print is.  The snob view from 35 years ago is that your plate must be such that you can make an edition — exact duplicates of the initial image.  Before your plate is finished, anything you pull off it is a “proof,” not part of the edition.

Nude, Artist’s Proof >
intaglio and mezzotint
copyright 1973 by Janine Maves

I love the fact that things have eased up over the years and I love making monoprints and recoloring woodcuts, but I still know what a print is.  And while I’ve grown to dislike most of the snob views instilled in me during my Old School Indoctrination, I know nude2that a print is not one of the 100 copies of your painting  ordered from Kinko’s.  Even if it’s taken from your own original work, what you have in your hand is a copy.   Your original is your original, and there is one original.  If you’re hand pulling prints off a plate, those prints are part of your edition of original prints and should be numbered as such.   If you’re in the darkroom pulling prints from a negative . . . well I have to confess I’m not educated in photography.  But I am sure that developing your own prints produces art and requesting six copies of your photograph from One-Hour-Photo does not. 

Nude, 1/25
dry point and aquatint
copyright 1975 by Janine Maves

As to whether or not you’re producing an original of your digital art from a computer each and every time you hit “print” . . . I don’t think so.  But I’m not educated in that field, either. 

To read more about printmaking see Julie D’Arcy’s terrific article.   


Entry filed under: All Posts, art and artists. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Julie D'Arcy  |  18 June 2008 at 1:54 pm

    My loving husband is a musician, not a visual artist, so he always pulls his analogies from music. He likens printmaking to playing the harpsichord: He loves to play challenging instruments (such as the harpsichord) and other accomplished musicians recognize his talent and give him great kudos for his
    technique and whatnot. However, as he points out, musicians do not buy albums or monetarily support your music career in any other manner, so what is the point? The point to having a God-given talent is to share it with the rest of the world, not to be snotty about it and separate out the ‘real’ artists from the ‘posers.’ I love printmaking.  I love the three-dimensionality of a deeply etched metal plate. I love the chemistry. I love the brute effort put into mezzotinting a plate. But in the end, it is all about whether anyone else is touched by it.
    I enjoyed your thoughts on printmaking in its formality and its informality. I wanted to share with you a page I wrote called Printmaking
    in the Modern Era,
    which was intended to give potential art buyers an education about what he or she is buying when something says print. I would love to get feedback.
    Also, are you part of the Etsy Printmaking Team Printsy? I
    found your blog through Gallery United, so I hadn’t checked the other team roster for your name. If not, you should join!

  • 2. Mary  |  16 June 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Clever and informative. Thanks for educating me. I haven’t had any formal art education and appreciate anything new I can learn.

  • 3. Joan  |  16 June 2008 at 8:03 am

    Well said Janine. I too had a very classical art education. I bite
    my tongue quite a bit sometimes over this point. You did an
    excellent job of explaining it. Joan 🙂

  • 4. ZudaGay  |  16 June 2008 at 7:57 am

    Very interesting! I have had some confusion pop in my head while looking at ACEOs and reading descriptions. I was raised by a printer….hehe….but he did news, not art. Or at least not art when he was printing.


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