A print is an impression made by any method involving transfer from one surface to another.
There are four main categories of printmaking:
Printing from raised images, as in letterpress and flexography.
In relief processes the artist cuts away areas not requiring to be printed from a smooth wood, metal, or plastic surface, leaving raised portions which are then inked before the print is taken.
Intaglio describes any printmaking technique in which the image is produced by incising into the printing plate – the incised line or area holds the ink and creates the image.
Lithography is a printing process that uses a flat stone or metal plate on which the image areas are worked using a greasy substance so that the ink will adhere to them by, while the non-image areas are made ink-repellent.
A variety of stencil printing, using a screen made from fabric (silk or synthetic) stretched tightly over a frame.
We asked our print making artists a few questions…
What originally interested you in making prints?
Lee Herring- I wanted to create a more affordable option for buyers. Originals are great but nowadays prints are too. The quality that can be captured with giclée prints is amazing! Nothing quite compares to having an original artwork but for a fraction of the cost you can have a close second.
Alexandra Gallagher- It was something I accidentally came into rather than planned. I found that my kids kept painting over my work, so I started creating digital collages to make into prints instead. The medium of print worked so much better for me and opened up a new way of working. It felt like creating digitally could keep up with the way I think. I now sketch my original work in Photoshop before rendering them in paint, so that I can keep the surrealist feel to them… I feel my work looses something when its planned - like it just doesn’t work? It becomes stale and over thought.
Carne Griffiths- I was interested in the translation and extension of an original idea into a format that represented the original work but one that was made more accessible to collectors
Lizzie Coles- I was introduced to etching by a gallery owner who suggested it would work well with my fine line drawing style, It wasn’t something I had considered before but I was definitely up for learning a new skill.
What are some of the things people don’t understand about printmaking?
Lizzie Coles- It isn’t the same as digital printing, it’s a craft and art form in its own right. It takes much longer than the original to produce. It’s actually really difficult to produce a good print.
Carne Griffiths- I think sometimes the limited and open concept can become lost
What are the first things you do when planning a new print?
Alexandra Gallagher- All my work is organic, I don’t plan anything. I normally start with a found image that speaks to me and then work from there. I find elements that start to tell a narrative of the eventual finished piece and move things around until I feel it works. I always say that my work is like little subconscious thought bubbles that just get put out into the universe.
Carne Griffiths- I experiment with colour slightly - the print is not only about reproducing a work accurately but getting the most out of an idea or image, including hand finishing and modification
Lizzie Coles- I use screen printing in the same way other artists use paint, so I plan the composition and format. My most recent collection uses circles as the format so I’ve had to work had on the composition. Once I’ve committed to the components I choose the colour combination, usually my work is quite monochrome but lately I've branches out into complimenting colour duos. Lastly I do the drawing.
Who or what have been your most valuable inspirations?
Lizzie Coles- I’ve been inspired by many artist from classics like Lucian Freud, Franz Kline and Jenny Saville to artists flying at the moment like Conor Harrington and Ian Hodgson. I lose hours on Instagram, I love being able to access all levels of artists - some extremely respected and others just starting out.
Carne Griffiths- I'm always interested in what my contemporaries are doing in terms of print. That doesn't necessarily mean that it will work for me. I follow the releases of Ben Murphy who tends to vary his methods, from woodcut to screen, and times releases well to coincide with key pieces of his work - in my opinion he has it spot on - there is an element of anticipation and of rarity.
What’s your latest collection inspired by?
Alexandra Gallagher - I recently created a series of three new pieces inspired by female empowerment and our role within society and history. I created three collages of pregnant women in the style of religious iconography. In particular Christian. The pieces are commentary on how we treat women. Every person alive is born from a woman and yet we treat women as second class and weak. I wanted to create pieces that celebrated women.
Carne Griffiths- My latest series of works is a simple exploration of the elements Fire, Earth, Air and Water
Lizzie Coles- I’ve got two opposing projects on the go at the moment and that dichotomy has improved my art exponentially. The first is exploring colour and composition through screen printing. As my practice improves I’ve been able to push my creativity, enabling me to go bigger, bolder and braver.
The second project is an Instagram drawing challenge vowing to complete one drawing every day for 100 days. I chose to do emotions through eyes portraits. I’ve always drawn portraits but this speed, continuity and commitment has resulted in a real step up in my technique.
How do you decide on the edition number?
Lee Herring- I tend to keep edition numbers quite low, the max I've been doing the last few years is 20. I think it's quite a nice for buyers to have something that is fairly exclusive and sort after.
Lizzie Coles- Even though I’m a screen printer I don’t produce editions in the traditional way. None of my pieces are identical. Each one has a painted background using the tools of screen printing to produce unique abstract expressions that are made up of 4-8 layers. I then print the final hand drawn layer. So each piece which has a similar composition and colour way results in a varied edition and I usually limit them to no more than 10 of each.
Carne Griffiths- I am interested in numerology - particularly the number 11 so my editions tend to be a multiplication of this - particularly 33
What influences your placement and number of layers/colours/textures?
Alexandra Gallagher- Again like planning a piece this is a very organic process and not something I really think about on a conscious level
Carne Griffiths- I try to align my print process with my normal practice of painting so there should be an element of chaos and spontaniety in any hand finished editions - I particularly like to finish with gold leaf but apply this over thrown and sprayed paint.
Lizzie Coles- I strive to gain texture using the screen printing tools in a none traditional way. I manipulate the ink to leave crevices and peaks, pushing the extent of how the ink lies on the multiple layers. This texture adds depth and complexity in colour, contrasting with the delicate fine lines of the drawn final layer.
How do you feel about the availability of images via social media?
Alexandra Gallagher- I personally think it a great thing. All those wonderful pieces of art you can see and be inspired by. And others can see the work you create; people who wouldn’t normally be able to see your work in the flesh by visiting a gallery or a studio. It makes the world a smaller place and makes it feel more united rather than divided by the land we live on. Sometimes an image can communicate something that can’t be put into words.
Lizzie Coles- I’m a massive fan of Instagram as it enables me to connect and engage with a community of creative people in so many different ways. I relish finding new influences and being inspired and pushed in my creative thinking. I also love the conversations which spring up with people I wouldn’t usually have access to, it’s resulted in a unique network of knowledge and support, which I value immensely.
Carne Griffiths- Social media is a great vehicle for sharing images but nothing gets across the texture and finish of prints than a framed piece on the wall or held in the hand.
How do you decide on original works/one off prints or limited or unlimited?
Alexandra Gallagher- I generally just go by feeling really, If I start to create a piece and start thinking actually this would work way better as an original then I’ll work towards that. I don’t generally create prints of my original work and I never create unlimited prints either
Lee Herring- As I'm a painter, everything always starts off as an original artwork from there it's a matter or scanning/photographing the artwork ready to be turned into a print. I enjoy doing a few embellished prints too which bridges the gap between prints and originals!
Lizzie Coles- I originally concentrated on etching as it’s line work complimented my fine line drawing but I needed to produce large art with a presence and dynamic that can only be achieved with screen printing so at the moment I exclusively screen print.
Carne Griffiths- I think key pieces from a collection work well or sometimes transitory pieces which mark a departure in style. Some things translate particularly well into print and some don't.
How does your print practice differ from your other artwork?
Carne Griffiths- I create my own prints and try to achieve a close as possible match to the original work. My originals are ink on paper - so giclee printing is an obvious match as it reproduces in the exact same medium. I would love to work in screenprint more but it doesn't align particularly well with my style unless simplified. I would love to explore etching in the future too as I think it would suit the linear style of my work.
How did you come to choose your preferred method of printing?
Carne Griffiths- It is selected mainly for suitability of reproduction, I have a large format giclee printer in my studio so my process is trial and error rather than technical - I keep going and changing until a print feels right.
What interests you about the aesthetic/finish of your preferred method over other printing techniques?
Carne Griffiths- I think the proximity to the original work. As I extend my work to include glazes and textured elements, I am introducing these into my print techniques using hand finished flourishes, and keeping the element of randomness and chaos as part of that finish.
We hope this interview was informative, if you've got a question... tweet us @curiousduke