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Art – The 4 categories of print as an art form

In our previous article we pointed out print as a form of art that has been in existence for some time and is one of the art forms that have morphed significantly as a result of artists adopting different emerging technologies in the print industry. Generally, a print is created by transferring an impression or an image from one surface to another.

Prints are mostly two dimensional though some artists have been exploring with three dimensional art pieces, some through using visual illusion whereas others using technology that enables creating of three dimensional prints.

We look at the 4 categories of print as an art form.

1 Engraving

Engraving is a category of printing whereby the process involves creating an impression on a surface through mostly using a steel tool referred to as a burin. The tool is used to make customized incisions on surfaces by applying pressure on the surface with ink applied on the burin, resulting in the impression on the burin being transferred onto the surface.

2 Lithography

Lithography is a form of printing that involves the use of chemicals to repulse oil and water. Essentially, the printing plate is washed with as chemical solution that will result in the creation of water receptive areas which are meant to be non-print areas, and grease receptive areas which are mean to be the print areas by drawingthe ink in. When this plate is pressed against a surface, the impression or image on it is then transferred onto the surface.

3 Screenprinting

Screen printing is one of the most popular forms of printing especially among enthusiasts of DIY because it’s fairly easy to do and results in very fine details and it allows the use of bold colors. Generally, one is required to design a screen through attaching a stencil which is essentially the image or graphic you want to print, and then it’s attached to the frame. This screen will then be placed on top of the surface you intend to print on, either cloth, glass, paper and so on, and this is followed by forcing ink through the screen and onto the printing surface. For an image with multiple colors, separate screens will be designed for each color and the process repeated for all of them.

4 Monotype

Monotype printing involves the creation of a painting or a drawing on a smooth plate then later transferring this painting or drawing onto paper. These plates can then be reused multiple times to make copies of the same print.

There are of course many other categories of print as an art form but the common trait among all of them is that it involves transferring an image or impression from one surface to another. The main difference is usually in the type of materials used to undertake the process of image transfer.

We’d love to hear your take on this topic.