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Friday, August 27, 2010

Mono prints or mono types??

what is the difference, between a mono print and a mono type, a lot of people ask me....... and it is an interesting question, because there are so many individual interpretations of what constitutes a mark or not.... but:
A Monoprint: is printed from a plate or material that does have a reproducable mark on it... ie, if I for example use a PVC plate and have scratched something on to it, and then use that plate in a series of prints......
A Monotype: Where a plate or materials are used to produce a print, that can not be done in multiples...... a plate or material that does not have a reproducable mark on them.... ah yes, you see the problem, right apart from that terms like monotypes and monoprints, who does not only confuse actual printmakers, they confuse the public even more....
The prints I have done with natural leaves, for example, what are they? You can reproduce a leaf, I could ink it up again and again in the same color and have an edition, or I could do what I did, which was ink and turn over and print the back and tear them up and replace and all kinds of things, in a process that I could never do twice.... but the fact remains, I used the same leaf over and over again.... so I have chosen to use the word monoprints, as in one of each print..... I think the term print, here, is more than enough for the public to handle, most printmakers know well what I talk about when I say confusion, try explaining to a person who has no clue what printmaking is, the processes involved and their eyes glaze over, and no wonder.... when buying a car, am I interested in the salesman going through the engine with me?
It never ceases to amaze me that so many will just as happily buy an inkjet reproduction of an etching, as buy the etching itself...... it is a new era for reproducing prints, exciting and with some fantastic results out there... and the debate about what is reproduced and what is original will continue, of course....... me, I just like the idea that someones hands were involved, and no, it's not sufficient for me with those hands putting the inkjet paper in the printer :o) and that makes me sound like a person who does not like reproductions, which is not true, I have lots, but does make me a person who thinks we should know the difference, and that it is up to us, printmakers, to state clearly and understandable what that difference is! When I made my collect original prints treasury on etsy, I was AMAZED, yes, and not in a good way, at the poor descriptions that came with a lot of those original prints...... as if it did not matter, that you, the artist, had made this, in the very sense of handmade... so, if you don't care... why should anyone else?


  1. Ok, now you have me really nervous! I'll have to look at my descriptions and see if they sound like I don't care! You know I do...

    I'm a bit confused about what to call a print made a la poupée that takes half an hour to ink up! It can just never REALLY be exactly like the next one. I'm finding it a little frustrating...

    Have a great time with your sister and mom! Enjoy the sun. Keep in touch!

  2. lisami72@gmail.comAugust 28, 2010 at 4:53 AM

    People amaze me when they gawk at prices on hand knit, hand spun, hand dyed creations. I think you have to have first hand experience of the process involved and the amount of heart an artist puts into the work to truly appreciate it. Either that, or they are all cheap :)

  3. This is interesting, Mariann. You're right that artists do need to make it very clear what they mean when describing their work. Also, it needs to be clear whether the item is a limited or open edition (and why), whether that edition is a hand-pulled/pressed/coloured print or a limited machine-made print run - and what process was used to produce the print (and perhaps what that means too). After all, a giclee print is quite different from an ink-jet reproduction... a reduction mono-type differs immensely from a letterpress print... And you're right that it is hard to explain it simply to the "layman". Until I started to read and explore the print-making world, I didn't understand the differences - therefore I didn't really understand why prices differed so much etc.

    Another issue that's come to my notice recently though, has been the quality of people's work. Some artists are amazing with quality control and you know you will get only an excellent standard of work from them. Sadly, I've come across artists (selling on Etsy!), whose print quality is just sloppy - even if their plates (eg. lino cuts) are fabulous. Why put all that work into the plate, then sell crummy prints? What about pride in their work?

    A good post and thought-provoking. Thank you.

  4. Oh how nice! A discussion... I love discussions...... and it is tricky, to know the difference, and then to explain it..... so sometimes I do suspect (strongly) that they are all cheap:o) and the I correct myself, be cause it is nobody's fault but mine if I can't make "them" understand what I am there, and don't we all, at times need an overhaul of how we describe things....I know since I started on etsy that I have changed descriptions over and over again to make them "better"..... and yes, to buy, and then receive a print that is dirty, not aligned or buckling is NO fun, and certainly not good advertising for printmaking..... let's hope there are few of those printmakers.... I for one, always, work super hard on having the prints I sell look the best.....

  5. Yes, I could see how hard you'd worked on the lovely prints I got from you! (so glad you didn't think I was referring to you there!).

    I like discussions too...