WHAT IS RELIEF PRINTING?
Relief printing is any kind of printing that transfers ink from a surface.
For example, with lino, we gouge away the surface that we don't want to print from, leaving the surface area that we do. Then we roll on some ink, press on some paper and we've made a print!
The same thing happens with woodcuts and wood engraving. And, dare I say, potato prints.
WHAT ISN'T 'RELIEF' PRINTING?
The other kind of printing is also called intaglio. It involves marking the surface of the material you're going to print from so that the mark is of the right size to hold the ink. This usually involves applying the ink to the whole surface, then rubbing it away from the raised surface, leaving ink in the marks, or grooves.
Etching is an intaglio process where the print surface has been marked with acid that has burned lines and textures. Drypoint is similar, expect that you don't use acid to create the depressions that hold the ink - instead, you scratch the surface with a sharp point.
MORE ABOUT LINOCUT PRINTS
Linocut prints are relief prints (see above). Typically, the lino we use has evolved from the same stuff you sometimes find used as floor covering - the operative word there is 'evolved'. The lino used for printmaking is lovely stuff to cut with a gouge, as compared to the lino you walk on.
You can cut lino with anything. Gouges are the tool of choice. Very similar to, and sometimes the same as, the gouges used for woodcarving.
We use both water-based and oil-based inks. But usually not both at the same time. Unless we got the tins mixed up.
You don't need a press to print lino - you can apply pressure using hand tools designed for the purpose, or even a big metal spoon (with which you burnish the paper after it's been place onto the inked lino). But a press takes a lot of the labour out of the process - especialy when you're printing big linos. Our press can handle an A2 print which is A Good Thing. Even better, is that it's possible to get hold of a press that works without having to take out a second mortgage - you can email me for more information abou the press we use if you interested.
You can produce a linocut print by cutting separate blocks of lino so that each block has a different print area - in this way, you can use each block to print a different colour. Because you always have the blocks available, you can keep producing the same print until the blocks wear out (which is usually almost never) or...
...you can use the reduction method. This involves cutting the lino and making a print in one colour (usually the lightest), then cutting it again to remove the surface where you want that first colour to remain. You then print your next colour from the lino... and so on. If you're doing lots of colours you may find that, by the tme you've finished, there's hardly any lino surface left to print from. And, obviously, as soon as you make that second cut, there's no going back. So if you print 10 copies after the first cut, and then mess up 3 with the seconds, and another 3 with the third... assuming the third is your last colour, you now only got 4 decent copies of the final print. And there's no going back, unless you you're prepared to do all that cutting again. The real fun part of this is that it might have taken you forty or more combined hours to do the all the cutting. Which is why reduction prints sometimes cost more.
WHAT IS A GICLEE PRINT?
Giclee is a digital print process that uses inkjet printing to produce high-quality copies of an original image.
It's a commercial process. Most artists and fine art printmakers use a specialist for the production of their giclees.
The original image is scanned at very high resolution, and is then printed onto high quality art paper.
It's an expensive process, and is often used for producing very short-runs, or even individual prints.
The results, depending on the skills of the printer and the process of consultation with the artist, are often quite spectacular. Unless you have the original with which to do a direct comparison, it can be hard to tell if you're looking at a giclee or the orignal itself.
I usually produce limited, hand-signed and individually numbered, editions of giclee prints. Once the edition has sold out I don't reprint it... a limited editionof a print is something special.
The main benefit of giclee prints is that they enable me to make my work much more affordable - an original artwork that might cost over £3000 can be made sold as a limited edition giclee print for a tenth of that price.