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Lynne Roebuck (Handwritten)

Original prints

These lino prints are 'handmade' – there are no plugs, on/off switches or 'print' buttons involved.

Why these prints are originals

These linocuts are called 'original prints' – why?

These prints are original because they only come into existence when the first lino block is cut and carved. In the same way as a painting only begins when the artist puts their first dab of paint on the canvas.

There might be some rough sketches and colour studies made beforehand. But there's no highly‑finished artwork made before the printing begins.

These prints are not a copy of some other piece of art. They are not reproductions.

Every single print has been individually printed by me, a lino print artist.

So every print is slightly different to every other print, though they're printed from the same lino block using the same coloured ink.

Similar, but not alike

It's the nature of something done by hand without anything but crude tools (relatively, today). Every print ends up with a unique quality of its own the others don't have.

This uniqueness is usually subtle, though it can be marked. Some printmakers strive to make every print exactly the same as every other one. I prefer letting each lino print develop its own modest qualities.

I often describe original prints as having much individual character, and it's the reason why collectors love them.

Made by hand, no on/off switches

Original prints are the result of ink on rollers, paintbrushes and a hand-cranked printing press.

No on/off switches, no electrical plugs, and definitely no 'print' buttons are used. So no cameras, no printers of any kind, nothing that has a plug attached, or batteries included.

It's not possible to wander off for a cuppa while the prints are printed by a machine. If the printmaker leaves the scene, then it all stops and nothing gets done.

Some printmakers hire a buddy to help make their prints. I'd consider hiring a buddy if I was rich enough!

So original prints are never copies of another artwork, such as a painting, and they have their own unique qualities because they're individually made by hand. This is why they are original.

What is an original print?

An original print begins when a printmaking artist gets an idea for a print and draws a quick sketch. If the printmaker likes their rough sketch, they will start making the print.

A printmaker does not make a highly finished painting or drawing inbetween the rough sketch and making the print. That's the important thing to remember…

An Original Print is never an exact copy of a painting, drawing, photograph, or art made on a computer.

Beware, because prints can be incorrectly labelled I'm afraid, especially if they're prints of digital art (computer art).

I call my computer art prints: 'modern prints', because they are not 'original prints'. And I'm really clear they are printed by a machine, so the price of them is lower than my linocuts (shown above).

Sometimes, you might want to be sure you're buying an original print. So I explain the three kinds of art prints you're most likely to encounter and some simple questions to ask in order to be sure.

You can see in pictures how original linocut prints are made here

What is a limited edition?

A limited edition print has a number which tells you how many were printed. The number will be something like this: 1/25, 2/25 or 3/25, and so on.

The example means there were 25 prints made, and there won't ever be more than 25 – ever. It's an edition of prints limited to 25. As time passes, there may be less prints as they are damaged or lost, but there will never be more than 25.

So if the print you buy has the number 16/18, it means you are the proud owner of the 16th print in a limited edition of only 18 prints in total in the world.

Original prints are naturally limited by the wear and tear on the printmaking materials used to make them.

For example: lino begins to spread after so many passes through a printing press. When it does, it no longer registers properly and the colours don't line-up anymore. Lino also becomes brittle and breaks. It's simply not possible to make hundreds, or thousands, of prints from a lino block.

This is why a number like this: 230/500 will not be an original print. Even etching editions, which are made using strong metal plates, rarely manage to be above 200.