Facilitating the fine art digital print
Laidler, P. (2008) Facilitating the fine art digital print. In: 'New Ways to use Print Technology ...On Paper', University of the West of England, Bristol, 14-17 October 2008.
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Publisher's URL: http://www.create.uwe.ac.uk/conf3.htm
The Industrial Revolution of the late 18th – 19th C coincided with art’s Romantic period and its depiction of the ‘great person’ theory. Here, the Romanticists’ solitary creator and autographic distinction were the highest forms of originality in art. When considering the artistic compatibility of a process such as printmaking, that was predominantly mechanically assisted and reproductive in its design, one became aware of its initial rejection as a valid art medium during this time. Despite these contradictory factors concerning the realisation of original artworks, the development of print as an artistic medium began to present qualities that were unique to printmaking. Coupled with the proliferation and economic potential of the process, artists such as Picasso also acknowledged the pragmatic utilisation of a Master Craftsman in the work. Producing works of art using the print medium can often involve a certain amount of logistical and technical knowledge. In some instances, depending on the complexity of a project or the specialist equipment that may be needed to realise a fine art print, an artist may often consider consulting a Master Printer. The main premise for utilising such an individual allows the artist to traverse much of the technical and laborious components of the print process. This partnership between printer and artist offers a generalised description as to what an artist will benefit from in such a venture. However the mediation of a fine art print is not always that straightforward, if one considers previous definitions that have existed concerning this type of collaboration. Historically, the Master Printer’s contribution to the field of fine art print has required various levels of involvement towards the realisation of many prestigious artists’ prints. Despite the technical affiliation of the printer, there is potentially a wealth of other factors that an artist will be introducing to the work when collaborating in this manner. If one considers the holistic nature of printmaking then associative contexts from the Atelier practice begin to present themselves. For example, parameters such as a ‘house style’, and the printers’ collaborative philosophies, begin to offer an insight as to how and why a fine art print may be conceived in a particular way. Thus one may deduce that the printing of one work by two different Ateliers could result in two very different looking prints. Digital print technology within the field of Fine art Printmaking is relatively new when compared to the more established traditional print processes such lithography, screen-print and etching. The subsequent adoption and development of digital technology through the traditionally defined concepts of the Atelier and Master Printer model are equally still in their infancy. The situation of previously defined printmaking concepts and practices (obtained through mechanical print technologies) has essentially been migrated into a digital printmaking equivalent, but to what effect? In comparing both analogue and digital print practices we need to consider the migration process of what may become obsolete, and what possibly needs redefining in the printmaking field. This presentation will therefore provide an overview of how digital technology has begun to inform what an Atelier and Master Printer might be today.