Printmaking is one of the coolest crafts around — and, luckily, one you can learn and enjoy from home!
Here’s what you need to know to start exploring this creative hobby.
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What is printmaking?
Printmaking is the art of creating stencils or carving designs onto a surface, with the purpose of transferring inked images onto materials such as paper, fabric, and more.
There are various categories within printmaking. More beginner-friendly approaches are screen printing and stamp-making, while linocut and woodblock printing have a slightly higher learning curve.
One of the highlights (if not the highlight) of this art form is that by creating a single design, you can replicate the exact same pattern on multiple surfaces.
It’s also a very creative way to approach simple stationery hobbies like card-making or make personalized artwork for gifts or decorative displays.
What are some popular printmaking techniques?
There are a lot of types of printmaking, and often they have little or nothing to do with eachother in terms of materials and techniques.
For example, relief techniques like block printing use a completely different process than screen printing or engraving.
To help you test the waters, here’s a short list of printmaking techniques worth exploring for beginners:
- Stamp making
- Woodblock printing
- Screen printing
What supplies do I need to start printmaking?
The materials needed for printmaking will vary depending on the specific technique you choose to pursue.
While some supplies may be similar and serve the same purpose, others will be unique to each approach.
Check out these quick overviews of different printmaking techniques for a better understanding of what each requires.
Stamp-making requires one of the most basic tool sets in the printmaking universe, especially since you’ll be working at a small scale.
For most stamp-making ventures, essential materials include carving blocks or rubber sheets, carving tools, and ink pads. Art pens and tracing paper are also helpful to draw directly on surfaces before cutting.
If you don’t want to source materials separately, purchasing a stamp-making kit is a convenient alternative to get started.
If you plan to work with screen printing supplies, ensure you have a spacious craft desk or work area!
To begin any screen printing project, there are supplies you can’t do without: a screen printing frame, ink, squeegee, emulsion, a flat surface for transferring, and tape.
You may also need protective gear such as craft masks, gloves and glasses, but this will depend on the toxicity of your ink and solvents.
For beginners, we recommend trying out a simple screen printing kit before investing too much in supplies.
Linocut is a great way to experiment with printmaking for the first time, but you’ll need a few tools to get the job done.
The main supplies for this form of printmaking include linoleum carving tools, linoleum blocks, brayers/ink rollers, ink, and paper.
You can add additional materials to your toolset, but the essentials are those listed above.
We have a comprehensive guide to linocut tools that covers everything from the best kits for beginners to the best cutter sets; be sure to check it out!
Woodblock printmaking will have you carving and shaping wood blocks, whether in simple designs or elaborate, layered images.
This is one of the more complex variants of printmaking since manipulating wood isn’t the most straightforward starting point for beginners!
Woodblock printmaking requires high-quality tools, not only for effective outcomes but for safety as you craft.
Before starting, have a peek at our in-depth guide on the best wood for woodblock printing and Pfeil tools. Having basic notions of how these supplies work is vital before jumping into this creative hobby.
If you want to make your own wood blocks for carving, taking a few woodworking classes can really be to your advantage.
How can I learn printmaking?
There’s no doubt that the best way to learn printmaking is by taking a few in-person or online classes. Trust me, both options are just as effective as long as you put some time and effort into learning!
This is a convenient way to observe techniques and work on skills with the guidance and advice of professional artists. YouTube is another logical alternative: just make sure you look for content for beginners to start slow.
Curated printmaking kits for beginners are another great way to learn independently and complete your first projects.
Where can I find printmaking inspiration?
Finding inspiration to kickstart your first printmaking projects has a lot to do with the type of printmaking you resonate with most.
If you’re all about that scrolling life, we’ve featured an article on some of the best linocut and woodcut artists to follow on Instagram.
Want to get a closer look into the life of talented printmaking artists? Check out all of the Tiny Workshops interviews below for some real-deal inspiration!