Author: Imogen Aldridge

A guide to printing: how do our artists do it?

Do you ever wonder how our artists create their amazing artworks? Whilst the finished product is always polished and perfect, the creative process is not always simple. Our artists work hard behind the scenes to create their limited edition prints - but we're here to give you an insider's peek.

Originating as early as the 1st Century AD in China, printing gives artists the unique ability to reproduce images on a larger scale, whilst allowing the artist to be creative, experimental and versatile. 

For centuries, printmaking has been used as a form of communication, whether that be through image or text. Although originally these prints served a practical purpose, now an original print from a talented artist holds great value.

Want to find out more? Here's our handy guide to just a few of the printing processes that our artists use. 

Screen printing

A guide to printing: how do our artists do it? | Image

Maxine Gregson showing us how she screen prints

A guide to printing: how do our artists do it? | Image

Created in the 1960's for use in advertising, screen printing became popular as an artistic technique after artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein started using the printing process regularly.

Screen printing is still a popular technique, and it's used by a large portion of our artists. Just like Maxine Gregson in the photo above, artists use mesh screens stretched over a frame to create their artworks. Blocking out areas of the screen using filler, paper or stencils, ink is squeezed directly and evenly onto the mesh and transferred onto the paper underneath. For each new colour used in the print a new screen is to be made, meaning this is sometimes a lengthy yet rewarding printing process for artists.

Screen printing produces bold artworks with a strong colour palette and well defined lines. Take a look at just a few of our favourite screen prints below.

 Giclée printing

A guide to printing: how do our artists do it? | Image

A Little Fish Design giclée print being printed in our studio

A guide to printing: how do our artists do it? | Image

Meaning "to spray" in French, giclée prints are high quality digital artworks that are created using an Inkjet printer. Giclée prints are of the highest quality and precision, using archival quality inks and advanced printers. The wide colour range in comparison to other printing techniques allows for a smoother gradient of colour and more depth and richness in each artwork.

The giclée prints created by our artists are limited editions, meaning that once all artworks in the edition are sold out, no more are going to be printed. 

Using our own printing set up, we produce a variety of giclée prints in our studio for our artists. Can you recognise the artwork being printed in the image above? To get a greater sense of what a giclée print looks like, take a look at some of our favourites below.

Letterpress printing

A guide to printing: how do our artists do it? | Image

Hooksmith Press using his letterpress print

A guide to printing: how do our artists do it? | Image

Whilst some artists use modern printing techniques, others embrace traditional methods of printmaking. In its simplest form, letterpress printing is the repetitive process of pressing a raised surface (the printing block) onto a surface to create an artwork. These printing blocks can be hand carved or recycled from vintage printers. Blocks can range from bold lettering, symbols to detailed illustrations.

Hooksmith Press, pictured above, is particularly taken with the vintage charm that letterpress prints hold. He says of the process: "Letterpress is a medium which allows me to collect and re-use elements from the past to create something new; a tangible and tactile connection to history and a continuation of a craft."

Linocut printing

A guide to printing: how do our artists do it? | Image

Lee Ellis - 2021, Off to A Great Start

A guide to printing: how do our artists do it? | Image

Similar to letterpress printing, linocut prints are made by carving a relief into a surface. Instead of wood, sheets of linoleum are used. This allows for the smoother movement of tools and a quicker engraving process to occur. Emerging in the 20th century, linocut prints are a low-cost and easy way to create impressive works of art. 

Once you have carved out your design, paint is applied and rolled evenly over the surface of the linoleum, which is then pressed onto a piece onto paper to create the finished print. Due to the smooth surface of the linoleum, the print will only leave a slightly grainy texture behind. Linocuts create bold planes of colour and fine and fluid line work.

Want to see more prints? Take a look at our extensive collection of limited edition prints here.

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