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Printmaking is any of several techniques for applying ink to (usually) paper, typically with the goal of producing original images in multiples. The idea of an "original print" may, at first, seem contradictory, but it means that the resulting image itself did not exist prior to the process of printing it. There may have been sketches or preliminary studies done beforehand, but as far as the printmaker is concerned, they are not the "original" works. The process of creating the plate (or whatever), applying ink and pulling a print can influence the outcome. Ideally, a printmaker will work with the medium, rather than attempt to force it to some pre-determined result. "Reproductions", on the other hand, are prints which attempt to resemble, as closely as possible, an image which is already a finished drawing or painting in its own right. The original work is photographed or scanned, and then either color separation plates are made or the file is printed on an inkjet printer. Some reproductions may be produced in numbered limited editions and signed by the artist, but they are not, in the strict sense, original prints. It is, however one means by which a popular image may be shared by many people, and usually at a lower cost than a one-of-a-kind work, or even an original print. Some prints may be produced on plastic film or fabrics, or other materials than paper. Some may use pigmented materials other than traditional printing ink. Some prints may not be intended to be produced in multiples. The artist may wish merely to use a press and printmaking techniques to achieve a particular texture or visual effect that is unique to the process. Each subsequent impression may involve selective applications of ink, or be the result of modifications to the plate, and so on. A printmaker may not be the person who actually does the printing. Many original prints are the result of a close collaboration between the artist who provides the image for a print, and a master printer who prints the edition. An example of this type of collaboration may be where an artist applies an image directly on a prepared plate or stone, and selects colors; then a printer will etch the plate or stone, mix the inks and pull some proofs for review by the artist. The artist may want to modify the plate or stone, after which the printer will pull some more proofs. Ultimately, a final look is decided upon, and the master printer prints the pre-determined number of prints. The degree to which the artist "gets their hands dirty" could depend on their familiarity with the technical aspects.


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