Since the invention of the printing press, artists have used it for a wide variety of reasons—to experiment with new forms, to exploit its unique strengths as an image-making tool, and to create more work than one person can execute by hand. Equally importantly, artists have made prints so that their artistic visions would be accessible to a broad audience. As the famedNeo-Expressionist painter Georg Baselitz said, “I’ve painted, but I’ve also done graphics since as long as I can remember so even people with little to spend could afford it.” As a result, prints have been embraced as one of art’s most democratic mediums.
But… what is a print, exactly? From Albrecht Dürer to Andy Warhol, artists have worked with master printmakers to employ a vast array of different printmaking strategies, each yielding its own distinctive result—so navigating the many varieties of prints can be challenging for newcomers. In the interest of providing some insight into a truly influential and important medium, here is a glossary of printmaking terms.