About us-What is Printmaking?

Printmaking / Graphic Art is a means of producing multiple images, each of these is called a print. Prints are created from a single original surface, known technically as a matrix or a plate. Prints are multipliable, easy to transport and exhibit. Such features allow prints travel across times and territories easily, hence invite wider audience. Printmaking has played an important role in spreading knowledge and culture since its invention.
Printmaking can be categorized as Relief Printing, Intaglio, Lithography/Planography, Serigraphy, New media and Iris print/ Giclee print.

Relief Printing
The ink is applied by a roller to the surface of a plate. Incised area that has been removed by craving tools does not receive ink and so does not print. Printing onto the paper is usually by a relief press, and also by an etching press or hand printed by a baren. This technique is commonly used in linocuts, woodblock prints, cardboard prints and collographs.

This is an inking technique where ink is forced into the grooves or incisions on the plate. Any surplus ink is wiped off from the surface of the plate with tarletin.  The plate is then printed with dampened paper by an etching press. Etching, drypoint, aquatint, mezzotint and collograph are common intaglio prints.

An image is created on plate surface by scratching with a hard, sharp metal (or diamond) point. The scratching leaves a burr that, when printed, marks a soft velvety line on paper.

Making prints from a plate bitten by acid. The plate is covered with a layer of ground with acid-resistant substance. Next, images are drawn on the grounded plate with carving tools. The plate is then placed into an acid bath and areas with grounding material carved out will be eaten away. The longer the plate is left in acid, the deeper the line will be.

This technique is known for its rich and subtle tonal effect. It is achieved by using a rocker roughing the plate surface.

An etching technique to create tones. The plate is first dusted with rosin and cured with heat. The cured plate is then put into an acid bath.  The acid etches around the ground to create a “dotty” pitted surface. The ink stays in the pitted ‘dots’ when the plate is inked and wiped. The plate is then printed with an etching press. Tones on print vary with the densities of the pitted ‘dots’.

Lithography/ Planography
A technique which an image is drawn onto lime stone or treated aluminum plate by applying a greasy ink called tusche or lithographic crayon. This printing relies on the fact that grease repels water. The drawn stone will be processed with acidified gum solution and buffed down to a tight gum film with cheese cloth.  So that undrawn area will repel ink and the drawn area will get ink on. The stone is then sponged with water and next ink is rolled onto the drawn area. The image is then printed with a lithographic press.
Prontoplate, a product of rapid technology development, appears as an alternative plate material. It simplifies the lithographic process and allows integration with digital imageries. In addition with the emergence of Waterless Lithography, lithography becomes more accessible.

Serigraphy/ Screen Printing
Serigraphy/ Screen Printing is a technique that uses a squeegee to squeeze ink through a framed gauze screen.  Serigraphy has been widely used commercially since 19th century. The first photographic serigraphy was invented in the United States in 1915. A group of Pop Artists like Anday Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein took serigraphy as their medium in the 60’s

New media and Iris print/ Giclee prints
Photographic and digital imageries have been widely applied in contemporary printmaking. To take Fung Ho-yin’s Gum Bichromatic Print as an example, his print is based on and developed from photography. Steven Lam Woon –cheung and Norman de Brackinghe’s Iris Prints are created with digital devices.
Iris Print / Giclee Prints (French) is originated in the 90’s. Iris Print refers to a print that is printed by the Iris Printer 3204, which was used for proofing in the printing industry.  Iris print has then become a printmaking technique genre: xeroxgraphy or any computer generated image printed on archival paper is now called an Iris print.

Print Numbering and Signing
After a print is pulled, the printmaker will mark the following information on the print with a pencil:
1. Edition: 1/10, 2/10…..10/10 (1 as the first impression, and 10 is the total number of prints in the edition) or
T/P as Trail proof,
A/P or E/A, AE (Epreuve d’Artiste) as Artist Proof. Artist Proof usually is
10-15% of the edition. Say, in an edition of 20, 2 artist proofs will be printed.
2. Title
3. Year Completed
4. Signature

The size of the edition is up to the printmaker.  When an edition is completed, it is a practice for printmakers to destroy the plate.