Centuries ago a print was something generally done from start to finish by the artist. A woodblock was carved by the artist, then he inked the block and made the print. The sequence was more or less the same in the case of an etching or engraving. Prints were made by artists. Ira A. Rubel began offset printing in 1906. Offset printing is done starting with a set of "color separations" made from the original artwork, where a copy camera is used to separate the work into its yellow, magenta, cyan, and black components. Offset printing is a highly specialized craft which does not lend itself to any hands on involvement by an artist save for final approval of the prints.
Samuel Simon began screen printing in England in 1907. Screen printing(or "serigraphy")where ink is pushed through a stencil which is held in place by a fine, tightly stretched screencan be very simple such as a stop sign or very complex in the case of an art print with perhaps 50 or 100 colors. Screen printing takes practice, skill, and patience, especially if there are colors which change gradually from top to bottom or side to side.
An "original print" would be one where the design is done color by color as you go and there is no original art that exists prior to beginning the print except for sketches and notes. This is a fine way to do an edition of prints but it would require the artist to be a skillful screen printer and do the whole process on her own, or work in close cooperation with a screen printer who would be able to work at the pace of the artist. Most screen printing of art today is done by art publishers who bankroll the whole edition and contract with a commercial screen printer. The screen printer employs a "chromist" who essentially copies the artists painting, one color at a time, into the serigraphic medium in such a way that the overall image matches the artists work but the brushwork style is that of the chromist, rather than that of the artist. We would suggest that the chromist should sign each work along with the artist. Indeed, a chromist may improve an artists work or degrade it, as the case may be.
In the early 1990's ink jet printers called "iris" printers began to be used to produce reproductions of artists works called "giclées" or "giclée prints". These printers spray microscopically small drops of ink onto a wide variety of materials to produce extremely detailed, very accurate prints. Recent advances in pigment based inks such as Epson's Ultrachrome inks have resulted in prints which can be confidently expected to retain rich, true color for many years into the future. Today wide format printers from Hewlett Packard, Canon, and Epson, in concert with state of the art software, have reversed the century long trend separating artists from hands on involvement in print production. The essential beauty of the artist produced print is that the artist controls every aspect of the print from size and colors, to an unheard of level of detail, to the substrate printed on, and the edition or portfolio size. It is now possible for artists to produce prints that fully manifest their unique vision and high artistic standards to a hitherto unparalleled degree.
The Uniglyph The time has long since come for a new category of art object which fits perfectly between "PRINT" and "ORIGINAL" (as in original oil painting).We are now in a digital electronic age where thousands of artists work not with paints and canvas at all, but with monitors, pen tablets, and printers. The UNIGLYPH is the closest thing these artists will ever get to producing an "original". This outside the box 21st century concept is sorely needed. Unlike a print, each UNIGLYPH is produced one at a time, and is unique and distinct. Although each is unique, it may be numbered as part of a portfolio of a limited number, all of which are based on one specific image.
The Amphibole Recent advances in dye sublimation printing means we can now produce stunningly smooth rich glossy prints or uniglyphs on aluminum. Bruce Ricker has created a significant upgrade to this medium by laminating it to a Plexiglas (acrylic) sheet, (typically black, .25 inch, but could be any color or thickness). This can quadruple the structural durability of the piece and stabilize the aluminum edge so that a skilled craftsman can create a smooth, polished, or even beveled edge. The result is the AMPHIBOLE, which is to the dye sub print as the GICLÉE is to the ink jet print. We think it is a substantial innovation less like the plywood and chicken wire you might see in certain art circles, more like the quality you'll see in fine jewelry or a Porsche. Waterproof! If you look in the dictionary you'll find that "amphibole" relates to hardness and aluminum. As well, the word obviously relates to "amphibious".