Printmaking is an all-encompassing term for multiple techniques of transferring an image from one material, called the matrix, on to another material, commonly paper or fabric. The process allows for multiple impressions of the same image to be generated relatively easily and inexpensively and for text and images to be disseminated broadly. Prints can be a powerful tool for grassroots activism and social and political protest.
Common methods of printmaking include woodcut, etching, engraving, lithography, linocut, and serigraphy/screen printing. The two oldest types of printmaking are intaglio (such as etching or engraving) and relief (such as woodcut or linocut). For intaglio printmaking, lines are incised into the matrix, filled with ink, then transferred to the paper or fabric by rolling them together through a press. For relief printmaking, material is removed from the matrix and what remains is inked and transferred to the paper or fabric. In both cases, the image is reversed in the final product, so images and text must be created backward on the matrix in order to read correctly in the final print.
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