A conversation I had with a decorator last week reminded me of the frequent confusion over Prints and their place in the world of Art.
To many folks, the only true “originals” are oil paintings. Yet in some respects, this is like declaring that squares are the only true rectangles. I can see where the confusion starts – I mean how can you have multiples of the same image and still consider each of them to be Originals?
The answer lies in the techniques used by artists to create their respective images. Artists involved in original printmaking don’t create one original and then produce “copies” of it. Rather, they visualize their composition and then prepare their image on a metal plate, a stone, or a block of wood depending on their particular medium. Paper is then introduced to the inked surface of those plates, stones, or blocks and then run through a press that applies pressure to transfer the image onto the paper.
Some of these techniques then require multiple runs through the press to introduce certain effects and colors, and here is where some unique qualities will emerge that distinguish each print from the others. The “theme” of each print is consistent, but certain subtle differences will make each one a unique piece of Art. Important to remember, also, is that in original printmaking – the artist has direct involvement in creating each image.
Overall, original etchings, woodblocks, lithographs, monotypes, etc. are a great way to get into collecting original work for a relatively modest investment. You’ll own something that will always retain or gain value in the years ahead, and will have something cherished to pass along to the next generation. At the very least, you’ll be certain that your Art purchases will not be showing up in the “Pretty Picture” Sales Rack at the local Discount Store.