What is printmaking?

Printmaking originated in China after paper was invented around AD 105. Relief printing appeared in Europe in the 15th Century, when the process of papermaking was imported from the East.

Example of SCREEN PRINTING, courtesy of The Contemporary Austin Art School. 


Example of RELIEF, Annalise Gratovich’s process pic of Borderland, courtesy of the artist. 

Example of INTAGLIO on a feather, Ann “Sole Sister” Johnson’s Nesting Joel, courtesy of Women & Their Work

Desktop printers and what folks refer to as “art prints” have helped dilute the term printmaking, so it can be confusing. Printmaking refers to woodcuts, etchings, lithographs, screen prints, linocuts (remember these from middle school?), plus a slew of other types and variations. Printmakers consider these works to be original prints, as opposed to digital reproductions. Though printmaking is usually about making multiples—to confuse things there is a printmaking technique that only makes one print—the artist’s hand is involved in every one.

 To learn more about various printmaking techniques, visit this great video tutorial below by Khan Academy, Created by the Museum of Modern Art.

Printmaking is a technical art form that’s harder to understand than painting, but since it’s so cool, it deserves its own festival. PrintAustin Collective is a non-profit organization that aims to educate folks on printmaking while helping to promote artists and galleries with the same goal. We hold our annual festival–(we named it after ourselves!) PrintAustin–from January 15 through February 15, where participating galleries showcase prints, as well as hold workshops, artist talks, and art happenings that our organization helps to promote. As part of the festival, PrintAustin Collective hosts events  including The Contemporary Print and PrintEXPO where we seek participation from printmaking artists. Are you an artist? Check out our Open Calls. 

For more information on printmaking, you can find a plethora of tutorials on YouTube, including the process video below of our board member Ben Munoz, printing one of his large scale woodcuts.  Visit PrintAustin’s own YouTube channel filled with artist talks, demos, and panel discussions.

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