Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between a monoprint and a monotype?

A monoprint is one of a series—therefore, not wholly unique. A monoprint begins with an etched plate, a linocut, or collagraph. This underlying image remains the same and is common to each print in a given series. Other means of adding pigment or design are then employed to make each print in the series slightly different. The series of monoprints has a limited number of prints and each is numbered. A monotype is one of a kind, a unique piece of artwork. It is the simplest form of printmaking, requiring only pigments, a surface on which to apply them, paper and some form of press. Here's how Frank Howell describes the process: "Monotypes are pulled impressions that were drawn or painted on a metal or plexiglass plate. The images are created through applications of ink that are rolled, brushed, daubed or otherwise applied and manipulated and then, with the material, usually paper, that is to accept an impression, are "pulled" with the use of a press. Monotypes are inherently unique because only one or two impressions may be pulled before the ink is used up. Although there may be a second impression, it is quite different from the first in that most of the ink was lifted from the plate in its first pass through the press. The second impression, called a ghost or cognate, is much lighter or thinner and is more of a suggestion of the first. Each pulled impression may be considered a finished work or it may be further enhanced by the application of additional drawing or colour."

What is a limited edition?

In printmaking, an edition is a number of prints struck from one plate, usually at the same time. This may be a limited edition, with a fixed number of impressions produced on the understanding that no further impressions (copies) will be produced later, or an open edition limited only by the number that can be sold or produced before the plate wears. Most modern artists produce only limited editions, normally signed by the artist in pencil, and numbered as say 5/20 to show the unique number of that impression and the total edition size.

What is the relative value of different types of prints?

Contemporary works on paper range in intrinsic value as follows: commercially produced posters which are photographically or mechanically printed are lowest in value; next are "original prints" such as etchings, collagraphs and linocuts; next are monoprints, each part of a series but having unique elements; and of highest value, because each is unique, is the monotype. In terms of cost, the monotype fills the gap between lower-priced multiple prints and higher-priced original paintings on paper or canvas.

How long does it take to create a monotype?

"The time required to make a monotype is the combined years of experience and knowledge of artist and printer . . . plus 2 hours." (Ricardo Ximenes, master printer). Those tempted to dismiss monotypes as "quick and easy" must remember that the techniques and elements of making monotypes - the amount of pressure from the press, types of inks and oils used, how they are applied, etc - require not luck, but tremendous skill, and make the result unique to this process.