Linocut is a technique of fine art printmaking, somewhere between a stamp and a woodcut.
Linoleum, a flooring made of pressed cork and oil, invented at the end of the 19th century to protect floors in a hygienic way, quickly fascinated artists and craftsmen. It replaced by hard wood, which was used by Dürer and subsequent generations of woodcutters.
A single print, self-made and signed by the artist, has a collector's value.
Imperfections or creative treatments make each print different and considered an original (as opposed to the so-called inkography / gilcee, i.e. digital computer prints and reproductions of works).
Linocut is a relief printing technique in which the design is cut out with special chisels in the linoleum to form a printing matrix. Concave surfaces are not covered with paint, and what remains, convex, takes the paint and is then reflected on the paper. Linocut is a creative process of constant focus on proportions between what will remain white and what will be covered with paint, and what the reflected image will look like. Fine art prints are created in the head, it is a dialogue with one's own imagination and the resistant matter of chisels, thick paints and capricious paper.
The matrix is covered with printing ink using a special roller, which must be sufficiently heavy and perfectly smooth. I like to use the roller that my mother brought from her artistic journeys in Denmark in the 90's. It is a solid roller with a cast iron handle, mounted on two heavy screws.
The print is created by applying the paper to the matrix and reflecting the cut pattern under pressure. I often do it by hand, which requires more strength in my arms and biceps.
Linocut is manual work. I sharpen my tools myself, cut the paper with a letter knife, page by page to keep the frayed edges. I also use a small, professional printing press for art prints, which gives a different distribution of paint than when pressing paper by hand. The press is completely mechanical and has a capricious character, which suits me very well because I never get bored when I see little imperfections.
The first moment of pulling the first, test print from the new matrix is always very exciting.
Proof prints often have small technical errors and surprises, so they are a treat for collectors. I rarely get rid of them myself. Each print passes through my hands, from creating a matrix, to cutting out the paper, to applying paint and reflecting. I sign the dry graphics and store them in special boxes. I also frame them myself.
Linocuts (as well as works created in other techniques of artistic graphics) make a great room decoration on walls, but can also be collected and stored flat.
Graphic prints are usually made in limited editions, the largest print runs are several dozen pieces because after printing about 50 pieces, the soft lino block gets worn out. The artist can print several several different editions from the same matrix, e.g. by changing the colors or even altering the block itself. There are also open editions, i.e. those that do not have a predetermined number of prints.
All information about the artwork, important for the collector, can be found in the caption on the front of the work.
The numbers inform about the size of the edition and the next number of the print. There is usually a title, signature and date next to it.
As a rule, the artist makes an assessment of prints and those that satisfy him the most (in this technique each print is slightly different) are marked with numbers 1-5 or even 1-20. Such prints usually stay in the artist's studio and in the future are highly collectible.
Graphic prints often have a large margin of paper around the printed image, to allow for many frame and passepartout changes. The margin can get damaged and it can even be cut to fit the frame. It is the print itself and the signature, that matter.
My editions numbers:
10/25 - 10 print from edition 25
A / P C / P - Artist Proof and Color Proof are proofs that serve as a model for the edition.
T / P - test print, with mistakes and imperfections, interesting enough to be kept for the future reference.
GRAPHICS DISPLAY AND STORAGE
Artistic graphics are made with special printmaking inks (made in USA and UK) on heavy and soft papers containing cotton or on Japanese mulberry paper.
They are generally lightfast, but I do not recommend direct exposure to sunlight, especially prints on a dark background.
Graphics on Japanese mulberry paper, which is translucent, require a special binding.