Dog is my Co-Pilot – Reduction Linoprint

I was approached by cool UK company, Pedlars, to do an exclusive print under the title “Dog is my Co-Pilot”. Pedlars sells quirky and original home-wares & gifts, both vintage and new. A love of dogs has always been a central theme of the company.

Dog is my Co-Pilot print

Inspired by pop art propaganda posters with their simple graphics and strong colours, this print is a 3 colour reduction linoprint.

Dog is my CoPilot print close up

A limited edition of 50 A3 prints were produced. Once these are sold there will never be any more printed because the process of making a reduction linoprint destroys the very printing plate that is used to create the prints – this is why it is sometimes called a suicide print!

You can see the finished print on the Pedlars website. If you’d like to find out more about the process of creating this print – read on!

First, the design for the print has to be drawn on to the piece of lino that will become the printing plate. It has to be drawn in reverse so that it is the right way round when it is printed (particularly important if there is any typography!)

Linoprint Plate1

Then, all the areas of the image that will not be printed (i.e. that will remain the colour of the paper used for printing) need to be carefully cut away. This is how my plate looked after this was done.

Linoprint plate2

This plate was then used to print the first of the three colours. The first colour (red in my case) will cover much of the print after the first pass through the press, but in the final print much of the red will be covered up by the printing of subsequent colours.

So, before I got started on the printing, I wanted to check how the three colours I would be using for the print looked when they were printed over/under each other. This would determine the order in which the colours would be printed. If, for example, I found out half way through the printing that the light blue did not cover the red effectively, or made an unwanted third colour (like purple!) it would be too late to go back and start again as the printing plate will have been cut away for the second colour – and once the lino is cut, there’s no going back!

So here are the results of that little experiment…

printmaking colour test

… I use traditional oil based printing inks – they look almost good enough to eat!

Red Ink

Here is the first colour printed.

reduction linoprint first colour

All 50 (plus a few spare) prints are printed in red at once. Then I return to the plate and cut away all the areas that I want to keep as red in the finished print. Here is the plate at this stage….

Linoplate 3

Now I print the next colour – the lighter of the 2 blues. The trickiest part of a reduction linoprint is making sure that the paper goes down on the plate in exactly the same place every time a new colour is printed, to avoid unwanted overlap of colour and keep nice sharp lines (although sometimes mis-registered prints can look really effective too). This is why it is good practice to print more than you hope to end up with in the final edition – because mistakes are bound to be made along the way! Perhaps this is another reason why it is called the suicide print!

Here is the second colour printed….

Reduction Linoprint Second Colour

prints drying

Now all the areas that will remain light blue are cut away from the lino plate… here is the newly cut plate on my press being inked up with the final very dark blue ink.

Printing Press

Ta Daaaa! The final print

Linoprint Dog is my CoPilot

Dog is my CoPilot print detail

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Portuguese Water Dog Art Print

I have been wanting to create something combining hand drawn lettering and illustration and I had in my mind an idea for a design based on a dog tag. In my recent post on Hand Lettering and Sketches I wrote about taking part in an online Hand Lettering project run by hand-drawn lettering and branding guru Jon Contino via the Skillshare website.

My original idea was making a new print in the form of a hang tag so I thought this course would be perfect to help me develop it. Most people on the course were designing labels for actual products, like bottles of beer or soap but the ‘product’ for which I was designing a label is a dog, or more accurately a specific dog breed…

Imagine a dog in a pound/shelter with a tag around its neck. The purpose of the tag (product label) is to give a prospective owner some information about the dog breed in the hope that they will rescue the dog. So it is really doing the same thing as a product label – trying to differentiate and tell a story of the product – but in this case a dog, rather than a botte of beer!

There’s a bit of Paddington Bear in this project too – the lost bear with a luggage label attached – entreating its finder to ‘look after this bear’.

Well my project has now come to fruition!  Of course I had to start with a Portuguese Water Dog as my dog, Figo is a ‘portie’.

portuguese water dog art print by debbie kendall

portuguese water dog art print hand lettered detail by debbie kendall

This illustration was too fine detail to be cut into a lino plate so I used a photopolymer plate instead which is capable of capturing much finer lines. Here is the plate…

photopolymer plate by the enlightened hound

I am intending to draw and print dog tag breed stories for other dog breeds… so watch this space for your breed!

portuguese water dog art print by the enlightened hound

These prints are on sale at The Enlightened Hound

If you know anyone with a Portuguese Water Dog, please point them in my direction. We ‘Portie’ owners love to meet each other!

Hand printed, Digital and Giclee Prints Explained

Today, when referring to specifically to artwork, the word ‘print’ is used to describe both digitally reproduced and hand-printed work. It is not always clear to prospective print buyers which process has been used to reproduce the print and the advances and accessibility of digital printing technology has resulted in some confusion.

Please note: I am referring here to the method by which the print has been reproduced or printed — not created. Advances in digital technology and the development of sophisticated design & illustration software means that artists often use digital design and manipulation techniques in the creation of their art. Indeed many artists have even replaced their traditional sketchbooks with a computer! Combining digital elements with traditional printmaking techniques (to make a ‘hybrid’ print) has revealed exciting and limitless possibilities for printmakers today. However a hand-printed print must still have been reproduced by hand.

Handmade Prints

Examples of traditional print-making processes include linocut, woodcut, etching, screen printing, monoprint and collograph.

Creating an original print using one of these processes usually involves many hours in the studio, infinite patience and experience with an array of chemicals, plates and (often ancient) equipment!

 Original hand-made prints are produced from a printing plate which can be cut, etched or constructed by hand or created digitally, or a combination of both.
Lino cut plate  etched printing plate  carved wood printing plate
Inks are then mixed and rolled out by hand and the image is pressed onto paper by hand or passed through a hand-operated press. Each print, although it may be one of a numbered series (or edition) is a unique, original, hand-crafted piece of art.
old etching press  old relief platen press  old bookbinders press

Although the image is the same in an edition of hand-made prints, no two are exactly identical as each one has been individually inked and printed. Slight differences in the amount of ink applied and the pressure on the press make each print unique.

If you look closely at my original hand-made lino-prints you can see differences in texture and sheen between the ink and the paper. The traditional oil based inks I use are slightly raised on the paper and have a soft sheen which contrasts with the velvety matt surface of the paper.

detail of hand printed linocut by debbie kendall

Hand-made prints are an affordable way of owning an original piece of art that is not a digital reproduction.

Digital and Giclee Prints

These are prints that have been reproduced using a sophisticated, professional inkjet printer, from a digital file, onto fine art paper, photographic paper or canvas. They are reproduction prints (copies) which are not considered original works of art and do not fall into the category of printmaking.

Epson-stylus-pro-11880

Giclee prints (pronounced ‘jee-clay —  from a French term meaning to spray or squirt) are archival quality inkjet prints of artwork from a digital file using special lightfast inks. They are perfect for producing high quality, light-fast, affordable copies of original artwork e.g. oil paintings, watercolours or drawings. All the copies will be completely identical.

The quality of colour reproduction of a Giclee print is exceptional, however whilst a Giclee print will give a convincing rendition of texture (for example the peaks and troughs of oil paint on a canvas) a closer look, or touch, will reveal that the texture is an illusion. The only real texture on a Giclee print is that provided by the substrate onto which it is printed (eg canvas, watercolour paper).

When printed onto an archival quality substrate, a Giclee print can last for many years without deteriorating or fading (exactly how many years depends on the quality of the printer, inks and substrate).

Digital prints may be created in several ways:

The image may have been designed and created entirely on a computer using an illustration & design software program.

Artists may have scanned hand drawn sketches into their computer which have been further manipulated digitally.

Original, one-off art can also be scanned at very high resolution to create a digital file. For example, my Quintessentially British print was originally drawn by hand in pen and ink — the only way to make more than one copy (apart from drawing it from scratch again) was to scan the original and reproduce it digitally.