Banele Khoza working with various materials on a lithographic limestone in 2018.
We are occasionally told by collectors that our prints are nice but that they are looking for an original work by the artist. Collectors often have the misconception that original artwork can only be a painting, drawing or sculpture (even though cast metal sculptures are often editioned). All of the prints done at The Artists’ Press are original. Original print is a designation of artistic intention. At The Artists’ Press, an original print is an artwork that does not exist in any other form. The original prints that are created at the studio are not copies or reproductions of existing paintings or drawings and exist only as prints that the artists have worked on from scratch. The noun print describes an image that is transferred from a matrix onto paper, fabric or any other, usually flat, surface. Matrix refers to the surface (usually flat) that the image has been made onto by the artist. In printmaking, this can be amongst others a woodblock, metal sheet (copper, zinc or aluminium), linoleum, stone, mesh cloth or grained film. Artists will sometimes use a combination of techniques to create their original prints.
At The Artists’ Press artists work mainly on limestone, grained film (plastic sheeting that has a textured surface similar to lithographic limestone) and linoleum sheeting (for linocuts). For monoprints, the artist works on polycarbonate plastic sheeting. When the artist is happy with what they have created on the matrix this is inked up (except for monoprints where the artist paints the ink directly onto the matrix) and transferred onto paper using our hand-cranked lithography presses. Repeating the process of inking up the matrix and running it through the press to transfer the image onto paper results in the selected amount of impressions that are almost identical to each other. It is the skill and eye of the printer that ensures that the edition is consistent. The matrix can be reused to produce multiple impressions of the artwork and this will then become the edition.
The list below is from the Print Council of America’s website and encapsulates The Artists’ Press approach to original prints: