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Original art prints

The process of print making has evolved over many years. Today Giclee is now the choice of most British artists for producing Limited Edition Prints . However many artists still produce collectible art prints by traditional printmaking techniques. Traditional print making creates limited edition art prints with an element of originality, rather than producing a photographic reproduction of an existing painting.

Artists choose traditional printmaking not necessarily for its ability to produce multiple copies of affordable art, but more often for the unique qualities that each of the printmaking processes lends itself to. Each art print produced is normally produced on paper. The print is not a copy but considered 'an original' since it is not a reproduction of a painting or other work of art. It is technically known as an 'impression' and considered by some as more collectible than Giclee prints.

Traditional British art prints are created from a single original surface which is called a matrix or a block. Common types of matrices used in print making include: plates of metal, usually copper or zinc for engraving or etching; stone is used for lithography; blocks of wood for woodcuts; linoleum for linocuts and fabric plates for screen printing.

After the original prints are conceived and created on the matrix the artist produces and signs a limited number of prints known as an edition. The number of the individual print and the size of the edition is indicated by a fraction. For example: 5/50 is print number 5 from a limited edition of 50 prints. In addition some British artists will also create a number Artist Proofs. These prints are identified by the letters "A/P" rather than an edition number and should be no more than 10% of the limited edition print run.

To summarise: An Original Print is an original work of art and not to be confused with commercial reproductions which may also be described as limited edition prints. Listed below are some the techniques used in creating and printing original limited edition prints.

Original British Art Limited Edition Print: Graham Clarke Etchings

Woodcut Art Prints

Producing limited edition art prints by woodcut involves engraving and hollowing out a plank of wood, typically cherry, pear, apple or boxwood, with chisels leaving a design on the surface. The transfer of the art work from the wooden plank onto paper is achieved by inking the surface with typographic ink and applying pressure with a press.

Etching Art Prints

British artists have been using the etching method for creating limited edition prints for many years. Etching is a method of making art prints from metal plates which has been bitten with acid. The plate is first coated with an acid-resistant substance (etching ground or varnish) through which the artist draws using a sharp tool (burin or other). The acid "eats" the plate through the exposed lines. The more time the plate is left in the acid, the coarser the lines. When the plate is inked and its surface rubbed clean, it is covered with paper and passed under a cylindrical press. The ink captured in the lines is transferred to the paper to make the art print.

Original British Art Limited Edition Print: Karolina Larusdottir Etchings

Linocut Art Prints

Creating limited edition prints by linocut is a similar printmaking technique to that of the woodcut. The difference is that the art work is engraved and produced on linoleum instead of wood. The advantage of linoleum as a matrix is that the surface is easier to work with, offering more precision and a greater variety of effects than woodcuts. The popularity of Linocut art prints was stimulated after artists like Picasso and Matisse began to produce art prints using the technique.

Lithography Art Prints

Producing limited edition prints by the lithographic printmaking technique involves transferring an image from a smooth limestone surface to a sheet of paper. It is considered one of the most authentic means of artistic reproduction as it prints directly the touch of the artist's hand. However, the large volume of art prints produced by this method has deterred serious art collectors, as the method has historically created unlimited editions.

Silk Screen or Serigraphy Art Prints

Silk screen, screen print or "serigraphy" is a process involving stencilling on to silk, nylon or other porous fabrics. Ink is applied and passes through the areas which are not "stopped" with glue or varnish. One or more layers of ink are applied to the surface of the material. Each layer of ink which is applied covers the open areas of succeeding screens until the final composite image is achieved. Photographic transfers, both in line and halftone, can also be fixed to the screen with a light-sensitive emulsion.

Serigraphy took on the status of art in the late 30's in the United States when a group of artists working with the Federal Art Project experimented with the technique and subsequently formed the National Serigraphic Society to promote its use. Latterly in the contemporary art world the artist Andy Warhol became a key figure in popularising the silkscreen method of producing limited edition prints.

Red Rag Gallery - Original Limited Edition Prints



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