A Monotype Party, 1897 monotype by Corwin Knapp Linson
You’ll find the word “monotype” everywhere in our catalog, but do you know what it is?
A monotype is a print, but with one major difference from other printmaking processes: the artist creates exactly one print, instead of multiples (called editions). This is due to the way a monotype is made.
To make a monotype, the artist applies paint or ink directly onto the plate — which can be metal, glass, plexiglas, or even gelatin. The plate is pressed against the paper to transfer the ink. (So the finished print is a mirror image of what’s on the plate.) The printing can be done with a printing press or sometimes by hand.
A monotype by Art League instructor Mike Francis (click for full size)
It’s a simple process that allows for lots of experimentation and variation. The artist can create layered prints, use objects as masks between plate and paper, or selectively apply pressure to create a trace monotype. After the first print is pulled, there will be some ink left on the plate for a second, fainter ghost print.
(To learn about a related term, monoprint, read our Q&A with artist Katherine Rand.)
The Fireside, monotype by Edgar Degas, 1876–77.
Want to give it a try? We have classes and workshops on monotypes throughout the year! Just search our catalog for the word “monotype.”
The 2014 Monotype Party. Photo by Francis Hipschen.