Celebrating The Link Between Artists and Print

Artists have been creating outstanding works for centuries and they are often linked to specific periods of time and culture. For example, the Renaissance is often linked to some of the most famous artists in history including Michelangelo, Raphael, Donatello and Leonardo da Vinci to name a few.

Alternatively, the period from the mid 1800s to the later decades of the 1900s is known as the Modern art period. Artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Edvard Munch are often associated with this.

The rise of print in the previous centuries has also had a direct influence on the world of art. While the traditional form of art using paints, oils, watercolours and much more still persists; there is now more ways than ever to engage in artistry with print being just one outlet.

October 25th is International Artist Day, created to help and honour the contributions that artists of all kinds make to modern society. It has existed since 2004 and to celebrate, we thought we’d take a look at two forms of print that famous artists have used!


Lithography has existed since the late 18th century when it was invented by the German author and actor Alois Senefelder. It was originally not intended to produce art and was instead meant to be a cheaper way of publishing theatrical works.Lithography printing

The traditional technique involved drawing an image made with oil, wax or fat onto a smooth and level lithographic limestone plate. It was then treated with a mixture that contained acid and gum arabic that etches the grease content of the drawing material and creates grease reservoirs. Due to the gum arabic the stone would create a thin gum layer that attracted water.

As such, when the stone was moistened the gummed areas would retain water and an oil based ink could be applied that would stick to the original drawing. The ink would be transferred when a cotton fine art paper sheet was applied to it, producing the print page.

Though this traditional method is still practiced, lithography today differs in that the image is instead made of a polymer coating. This is applied to a flexible plastic or metal plate and the image can even be directly printed onto the plate!

Lithography has been used throughout the centuries to create outstanding works of art with famous artists such as Jules Chéret, the French artist who is often known as the father of the modern poster. Other artists including Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse rediscovered lithography in the 20th century and brought it back to the forefront of art, with Picasso in particular using it frequently.

Screen Printing

Unlike Lithography, modern screen printing is a much newer form of print. While the process of screen printing itself was found in China almost a thousand years ago, the process seen today was developed in the early 20th century.

This printing technique is incredibly versatile and also easy to start as it uses a mesh to transfer ink onto a substrate. Certain areas of the mesh are blocked by a stencil and ink is spread across the screen by a blade or squeegee.

The most famous use of screen printing is Andy Warhol, who in the 1960s popularised this printing technique with his artwork. Some of his most famous works include a depiction of Marilyn Monroe that was screen printed with bright colours and the Campbell’s Soup Cans.

Screen printing is often used today for mass produced products such as posters, display stands or even to print onto textiles quickly. It is incredibly versatile as it can be used on a large range of surfaces including clothing, balloons and much more which is particularly ideal for aspiring artists looking to sell their work.

Sarah Jubb