My Printmaking Journey

I first tried Monoprinting at a short course at Sea Sky Design and was instantly hooked.

Monoprinting is planographic printing, that is printing from a flat surface – using mark-making to create a one-off print. There are a number of ways this can be achieved. Tracy Emin presses her paper onto an inked slab and draws or puts pressure so the ink leaves a line on the paper. This kind of monoprint suits her spontaneous outpouring. It’s raw, unrefined, and tender. Emin often incorporates text in her monoprints – to you this you have to reverse your writing, so her writing seems unpolished lending to that confessional, diary sensation that she does so wonderfully.

One of the most exciting parts of printmaking is the unpredictability – and this is especially true of mono-printing. If you’re doing an edition of prints, you’ll be fairly confident of the outcome after a few trials. All prints can be surprising, but monoprints Tracy Emin describes as “alchemic.’ Sometimes its disappointing and sometimes its magical.

I use a sheet of Perspex and ink up this plate with a thin rollered layer of semi opaque ink. I then remove the ink with brushes, cloth, cotton buds, anything I can lay my hands on. I sometimes use an image or sketch beneath the perspex as a starting point. I can reroll some or all of the plate several times, until I’m happy with it. This is most like my painting technique – I just see what emerges. I find the image, or the image finds me. When I’m happy with the plate, it’s registered on the press and put through. For me, this works best with dry thinner paper. I’m still trying to find the right paper – I love how newsprint works, but this paper has a short life span. I like hosho paper. I’m going to try five seasons paper, I’ll let you know how I get on.

There’s something quite immediate and painterly about mono printing. Having said that, it’s not always quick, I can reink a plate many times before I’m happy with it and run it through the press. You could try gelli plate printing or incorporating stencils into the mix. Some would say that mono-printing isn’t real printmaking. Some people are just disagreeable. Monoprinting needs the least amount of equipment – a plate, paper, ink, a roller – if you don’t have a press, the back of a spoon will work.





For inspiration

Tracy Emin

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