What is original printmaking?

Original prints are hand-made, hand-printed works of art that are created using a range of traditional techniques such as etching, woodcut and lithography. Creating a print is a very ‘hands on’ process and the artist cuts into the block of wood or draws into and etches the copper plate, inks it up and prints it in essentially the same way that artists have done for centuries. Of course, styles change and new technologies are introduced, but to this day, printmaking remains an invaluable tool for producing innovative and evocative artwork.

People often get confused between original prints and reproductions. Basically, original prints are hand-made by the artist, sometimes with the assistance of a printmaking technician. Every process from conception to production is done by hand. A reproduction, sometimes called a giclée print, is essentially a photographic copy of a piece of art, often a painting. Confusion arises however, because these are often packaged as works of art, signed and numbered and called ‘limited edition prints’. Very often they are priced at a similar, and in some cases greater, level than you can purchase an original print for. However they are as valuable as tearing a picture of a painting out of a book and framing it.

Often one way of telling the difference is to look at the edition number. Rarely will artists print editions of over 100 and most of the time it’s far less. So, if you’re looking at something that’s number 22/750 for example, you can guarantee it’s a copy.

But to really appreciate the difference between original prints and reproductions, just view them together. If you view them side-by-side you will see that hand-made artist’s prints have a life and vibrancy that shows reproductions up to be the mechanised print-outs that they are. Or come along to the Studio and see them being made!