Printing is the process by which images are produced on paper or other media, using a matrix such as an intaglio plate, relief woodblock, lithographic stone, serigraph, metal plate for offset press, or any of a number of other processes. It has been used to make books, textiles, plates, wallpaper, packaging, billboards, and other forms of art since it was developed by Johannes Gutenberg in the 1400’s.
Several of the most common print processes, such as intaglio, drypoint, and photogravure reverse the image during printing, so that the final printed image is not an exact replica of the original plate or stone. However, a very few print processes do not reverse the image at all, including serigraphy and hand lithography.
One of the oldest intaglio processes is etching, which uses a sharp tool called a burin to cut a design into a metal plate, usually copper or zinc. This plate is then wiped clean with a type of starched cheesecloth called tarlatan.
Another very old intaglio process is engraving, which uses a chisel to carve an image into a block of wood. This block is then inked and the ink is transferred through a press, leaving a raised impression on the paper.
Often, artists mix and match different print processes to produce unique works of art. For example, James Rosenquist collaged several monotypes and lithographs in his prints, The Kabuki Blushes, Crosshatch and Mutation, Flowers and Females, Shriek, and Sister Shrieks.