Printmaking: not just for art

The term ‘printmaking’ may immediately conjure up thoughts of art and design but, while the majority of prints are artistic, they also include advertising posters and flyers – which may or may not incorporate artistic elements. Poster and flyer printing services employ many of the different techniques used by printmakers. There are a wide variety of these and many of them are still used by printing companies today.

The oldest known form of printing is the woodcut technique, in which the artwork is drawn on a block of wood and then the pattern is cut out. The block is then inked, paper is placed on top, and the pattern is transferred through rubbing. Engraving is a similarly time-honored method, through which a design is cut into a metal plate, then inked and pressed onto a sheet of paper

More commonly used in modern day poster printing, lithography is a method through which an image is drawn on a surface, usually limestone, and burned into the surface using acid. Following this, it is inked and the design is pressed onto a sheet of paper. Screenprinting, meanwhile, is a technique that uses a screen stencil. Ink is applied to the surface and then pushed through the screen onto the paper using a roller or squeegee.

One of the most versatile techniques is monoprinting, which creates one-of-a-kind images, usually via a woodblock or copper plate which is inked and then pressed onto a sheet of paper.

These are only a few of the techniques that a professional printing company employs, with dozens being in practice today.