Paul Smith's workshop, Scotland Island Australia. Paul carves a wooden plate.

Master Printmaking

It is not my intention as a printmaker to create an exact copy of the original artwork. Rather, in collaboration with the artist, we express the essence of the original image through the unique graphic technique of multi-colour colloblock printmaking.

Printmaking terms and processes

Here are explanations for terms I use on this website:


Printmaking tools

Types of prints

Master printmaking

Master printmakers work closely with artists who wish to translate their work into limited edition prints. This is an invaluable collaboration as prints reach a much wider audience than the original work of art.

Master printmakers are highly skilled craftsmen. There are only a few in Australia. Each of us has different and unique techniques.

Creating a print demands both creativity and technical expertise. As printmaker I assist the artist in the technical aspects. The end result is a work of art in its own right. Colours, shadows and textures on paper conveying the artist’s intentions. My work is different from other printmakers because of my large range of colours.

Handcrafted prints of vibrant colour

I do not use any photographic means. It is all done by hand, keeping in mind the essence of the artist’s intention at all times. I mostly work with artists who share my enthusiasm for rich, vibrant colours.

I can look at the work of each artist and break it down into the component colours, separating an image into the main reds, yellow, blues etc.

See more on my printmaking technique

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Limited edition print

A limited edition print is created in a single run. Usually the number of prints from this run is less than 100.

The printmaker destroys the plates used to create a limited edition print. There cannot be a second run. This increases the print’s value.

Value of limited edition prints

None of my print editions have dropped in price in the 25 years I have worked as a master printmaker. Some prints rise in value due to market demand.

Despite demand, I keep my prices reasonable. This allows the client a good return if re-selling the print later on.

Each limited edition print is stamped with my own embossed chop, and signed by the artist’s hand. My multi-colour colloblock technique is recognised nationally and internationally. These prints are highly collectable Australian artworks.

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Reduction printing

I use a reduction printing technique. This means I destroy a print’s plates during the printmaking process. This is done slowly after each successive colour has run through the printing press. This way the print cannot be reproduced after the limited edition is complete.

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Artist proof (AP)

Often there are up to 10 artist proofs. These are the prints kept by the artist and the printmaker. Sometimes they are sold but they hold no more or less value than the rest of the edition.

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Printing plates

The artist hand carves an image into a plate, sometimes with my assistance. In my workshop, plates are composite wood board, a wood cut or woodblock process. The board is soft enough to carve, but more durable for an edition of prints than linoleum. Linoleum is also used in printmaking.

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Print paper

I use Somerset or Arches BFK Rives paper. Both are 100% cotton and archival. Archival means the paper will be stable for up to 500 years, if stored correctly.

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Printmaking inks

I make my own richly coloured inks. I grind the artist quality pigments into a suitable printing ink and use more than 80 different coloured inks in each edition. This range of colour is unique to my printing process.

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Printers chop, or stamp

Essentially a chop embosses the printmaker’s mark, or signature, onto the paper.

I designed my chop mark in the 1980’s when I began creating limited edition prints. The central diamond represents the press. Concentric circles around the diamond represent the artist and printmaker. The surrounding square is my studio.

You can see my chop mark at the top of each web page. 

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Printing press

I use a Charles Brand printing press imported from New York. The press bed is solid bronze and weighs over 800 kilograms.

This is the Rolls Royce of printing presses. It is precision made to within millimetres. To date I have printed over 10,000 prints on the Charles Brand press.

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Relief printmaking

A relief print is usually a woodcut or linocut (linoleum plate).

The artist sketches a composition on a wood block or lino surface, then cuts away pieces from the surface. This is done with specialised tools of different shapes. The round or U-gauge is for large areas. The V-gauge is for fine lines. Only the composition remains raised. With a roller, either the artist or printmaker applies ink to the surface. The composition is transferred onto paper via the printing press.

Recessed, or cut away areas do not receive any ink. They appear white on the printed image. Bold dark - light contrasts are characteristic of relief prints.

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Intaglio printmaking

Intaglio printmaking is usually etching or engraving.

With intaglio printing the image is incised or bitten with acid into a metal plate, usually copper or zinc.

Next the plate is covered with ink. It is then cleaned so only the incised grooves hold ink. As printmaker I run the plate and dampened paper through the press to create the print.

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Collograph prints

Collograph printmaking is a type of intaglio or relief. “Collo” is a Greek word meaning glue. In a collograph the artist or printmaker applies glues to the plate surface to create texture.

I have developed a printmaking technique called colloblock. This is a combination of collograph and woodblock (relief) printing techniques. The process requires a close working partnership with the artist.

See more on my colloblock printmaking technique
See the video: Making a colloblock print: Samoan Skin

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Questions about prints or printmaking?

Ask the master printmaker, Paul Smith
See FAQ - purchasing a print

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