Fine Art Printmaking: Why We Think Printmaking is Far from Dying

by . April 28th, 2020

Last updated on 19th September 2023 

When we interviewed JP Cuison, he shared how he does his prints through screen printing and painting. We got so hooked up to printmaking that we decided to do another interview with a group of printmakers from the Philippines. If you’re into printmaking, check out that exciting post. Since we’re featuring a group of printmakers soon, we’d like to inform the internet that printmaking is not yet dead well, not shortly.

We want to point out that printmaking and printing are two different things. Printmaking involves creating artwork on paper or canvas, which produces a distinct “Impression” in each piece. This makes each art piece produced through printmaking unique, normally differentiated through a series of numbers. On the other hand, printing generally is the reproduction of text or images for varying purposes. These can be for posterity, academic, or commercial purposes.

The Beauty of Printmaking

Printmaking has been around as early as the 4th century AD, and it’s been used to reproduce religious manuscripts and artworks for distribution. Of course, as time went by, printmaking has evolved from its documentary and preservation purposes to creating works of art and may have influenced the development of other printing processes.

Aside from documentation and posterity, the real value of printmaking today is its vintage appeal and the activity involved in creating prints. Also, it’s apparent that we humans are experiential and perceptive creatures who value experience and the feel of the world. An example can be seen through our hobbies – collecting vintage items, appreciating art, eating food, etc. What makes printmaking beautiful is, more than the art and prints, the experience and the engagement of the artist’s senses to his work.

Since we’re up to the challenge of letting the internet know that printmaking is here to stay, we came up with a short list of why we think it will be kept alive. Here they are:

A Form of Non-Conformity

Artists today explore different art mediums – painting, typography, graphic design, etc. – and printmaking is among them. Because of the other processes in creating a print through printmaking, any aspiring artist can find their niche in it. It’s also worth noting that graffiti and street artists use stencils in most of their work. This makes printmaking a primary tool for rebellious and non-conformist artists who wish to express themselves differently.


An Alternative Medium

An artist can utilize a wide array of printmaking techniques, including woodcuts, etching, stencils, and screenprinting. As the art production process has become more streamlined and accessible to the public, many artists actively explore alternative mediums for their work. It can provide a fresh take on the digital art you’re working on if you’ve got the patience and will to experiment with it. Printmaking is an appealing medium for artists seeking inspiration in other art forms.


A Collaborative Endeavor

Printmaking has survived throughout history because of its collaborative nature. This collaborative nature stems from the printmaker’s effort to disseminate his work or his information to a larger audience. This then attracts those interested in either the work or information that he has and becomes a patron. Further techniques and improvements have developed from this relationship, and through this partnership, printmaking has survived today.


In Keeping the Tradition

Keeping printmaking as a tradition has already begun. Today, art instructors teach art students the various techniques involved in printmaking, and most art galleries welcome exhibits featuring artists who utilize printmaking. There are groups and educational institutions that preserve print artworks.


We may not notice it today, but printmaking has changed and improved how we live. In contemporary times, we still practice the same ideology in printmaking. A great example is the computer that we are using today. They are an impression of a previous medium, the typewriter, also taken from an earlier medium. The printmaking ideology of creating an impression from one surface to another has influenced these media. You can watch Phil Sanders’ Ten Minute Talk about Printmaking in MoMA, where he talks about the beginning of printmaking in New York and how it will stay a hundred years from now.

If you come across an inspiring printmaker or printmaking work that you’d like us to feature, please let us know and reach out to us via Facebook.

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