What is an original print?



An original print is entirely different from a commercial, digital print.

A commercial print, limited or otherwise, is a copy, nowadays using a digital process, of an artwork, the purpose being, to produce a number of identical images of the work, to be sold at a more affordable price than the cost of the original piece. 

Original printmaking, on the other hand, is a process that has been in use for hundreds of years and this traditional way of printing by hand should not be confused with the process of printing out digital copies of a piece of art.  

Each print, though one of an edition, is never-the-less unique reflecting the interaction and the hand of the artist on each individual piece.  

Using Lino, to create art is a form of relief printmaking, “relief” meaning that, after carving, it is the raised areas of the block that are used to create the image. 

Working from initial sketches, the design is worked on to a Lino block and hand carved.

Ink is applied to the block and this is then rolled by hand through a press thus transferring the image onto the paper.  The fresh prints are then hung to dry naturally in the studio.

a number of prints hung and drying 


There are a number of different ways an image can be produced using the relief technique.  

For a monotone or single colour image, in combination with the colour of the paper itself, only one block may be used. 

When using different colours, I either use a “multi-block” or “reduction” method and occasionally, a combination of both. 

A multi block print is one where each element and colour of the overall design is set out and carved from a separate block.  The blocks are then printed systematically and hung to dry in between each colour, with the image gradually building up throughout the process until the final colour completes the image.  The image of a multi block print will be formed, through a combination of the separate colours of each block and also the layering of those colours, one on top of the other.  This takes a great deal of planning with much thought given to the interaction of the shapes and colours at each stage of the print. Using this method, I am usually relatively clear about how the final image will appear as I will have been through a process of proofing of each of the blocks before beginning the print run. 

colour proofing "Magpies and Scots Pine"


A reduction print is a multi layered process using a single print block to produce a coloured image.   The carving of the block is made gradually, applying and printing different colours at each separate stage.  More of the block is removed with each colour until the final print run by which time there may be only a fraction of the original block left.  Using this method, is always something of a journey of discovery.  The process is more intuitive, with adjustments and decisions being made at each stage that the block is being carved and printed and also a little nerve-racking as at each stage of cutting the block, there is no going back – you could have spent three or four weeks cutting and printing a piece and waiting for the colours to dry at each stage – and then mess up royally on the final cut – with no going back – leaving you with no choice but to start the whole process again. 

But when it works… lifting the paper off the last block is one of those wonderful little “WOW” moments that makes it all worth while.