An Extremely Brief History Lesson in Printmaking

If you close your eyes and think of classic art, the art you learned about at a young age and associate with “fame”, printmaking rarely makes the top five. Today, a lot of people associate but printmaking with logos and art screened onto their favorite graphic tee. However, printmaking is an ancient art form that has shaped the world since the beginning of (wo)man.

The Beginning:

Printmaking stems from the art of engraving. Engravings have been found carved onto bones and cave walls. These engravings are the oldest human recorded accounts of history that we currently have access to. Methods of relief prints date back to the Sumerians in 3000 bce who carved into hard, cylindrical objects and rolled them over clay to create designs. The cylinder shaped engravings could be used over and over again to create multiple copies.

The art of printmaking may be responsible for capturing both the visuals and the stories throughout time. Johaness Gutenburg was inspired by the concept behind block printing when he created the printing press. As most people recognize, the printing press was the beginning of a period where information and learning became more accessible to people, even those without tons of money. Your ability to read this blog post today can be partially attributed to printmaking. You’re welcome!

do these look familiar?

 The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai (woodcut)

The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai (woodcut)

 The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters by Francisco Goya (etching)

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters by Francisco Goya (etching)

 Campbell's Soup Cans by Andy Warhol (screenprint)

Campbell's Soup Cans by Andy Warhol (screenprint)

Where to find prints today?

Whether it is your favorite t-shirt or a digital image in a magazine, you can find prints and art inspired by the printmaking process scattered throughout your daily life. While it may not be the most idolized or glorified art making process, printmaking has played an integral role in bringing art and increased literacy to people worldwide. We hope that Golden Key Prints can do the same, even if it is on a micro-level