Printmaking techniques—such as etching
, and lithography
—enable artists to produce multiple versions of the same work, often referred to as an edition. While editioned prints are not unique, they are still considered to be original
artworks just like paintings, drawings, or sculptures.
Because prints are available in editions, they are often more affordable when compared to one-of-a-kind pieces. As a general rule, the smaller the edition size, the more valuable the print.
Diversity of Techniques
While you don’t need to study printmaking processes to enjoy prints, these details can enrich your day-to-day appreciation of these artworks. Printmaking requires precise craftsmanship and technical innovation—and learning more about these techniques can be one of the great joys of buying prints.
For example, when you buy a woodcut that has 20 colors, you might discover the piece was composed from 20 different hand-carved woodblocks, one for each hue. By asking questions of your print dealer and looking closely at your piece, you might be able to find evidence of this labor-intensive process—and you can share these discoveries when people ask you about the work.
Below is an example of three works by Alex Katz
that show three different print techniques: woodcut, aquatint, and screenprint.