Printmaking is a very old art form, dating, in the case of woodblock prints, to 9th-century China. Intaglio techniques such as engravings, etchings, and aquatints, were products of the Renaissance, while lithography signaled the arrival of an industrial age.

At first, printmaking techniques were not employed merely to allow an artist to produce multiple copies of a single image. Woodcuts, for example, were ways for publishers to illustrate everything from playing cards to books. Biblical illustrations by the great 16th-century German engraver Albrecht Dürer were printed so often from the same blocks over so many years that experts can actually date some of these images based on the original block’s degradation.

By the 20th century, artists saw prints as a way to literally multiply their output, while also creating more accessible price points for their work. American artist Maxfield Parrish used lithography to create multiples of his paintings for magazines—if you subscribed “Ladies Home Journal” in 1904, an unsigned and unnumbered, but nonetheless limited, reproduction Parrish’s “Air Castles” could be yours for a dime.

Other fine artists produced limited-edition prints that were often variations of subject matter they focused on in their paintings. The great prewar narrative painter Thomas Hart Benton made both paintings of rural American life as well as lithographs of the same. By the 1960s, artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein were giving equal attention to their prints, if not more. Some artists from that era, notably Jasper Johns, are admired as much for the technical proficiency of their prints as the paintings they are often based on.

In the second decade of the 21st century, a new crop of printmaker is emerging. These artists take their cues from the gritty world of street art and graffiti, as well as posters and advertising, to produce prints in a variety of media—from traditional screenprinting to multiples built out of collaged vinyl records. Artists whose prints are attracting the attention of contemporary collectors include Mr. Brainwash and Shepard Fairey, who gained widespread acclaim for the poster he created for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Other artists are blurring the lines between posters and prints, particularly in the work they create for rock bands who commission them to design limited-edition music posters. Some of the most sought-after of these new signed-and-numbered limited editions are for the likes of Phish, Pearl Jam, and Dave Matthews by Jim Pollock, Brad Klausen, and Methane Studios, respectively.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

London Transport Museum Posters

London Transport Museum Posters

A must-see collection of 5,000 vivid, colorful British posters from the early 1900s onward. Browse by artist (over … [read review or visit site]

Metropolitan Museum of Art: Timeline of Art History

Metropolitan Museum of Art: Timeline of Art History

Travel around the world through art with this museums collection of over 6,000 works of art, from Egypt to North A… [read review or visit site]

Fillmore and Avalon Collection

Fillmore and Avalon Collection

Wish you'd visited San Francisco in the late 1960s? Get a quick hit with this comprehensive collection of psychedel… [read review or visit site]

USSR Posters

USSR Posters

Ben Perry's Flickr photoset showcasing almost 1500 Soviet propaganda, advertising, theatre and movie posters from 1… [read review or visit site]

New York Public Library

New York Public Library

The New York Public Library's impressive Digital Gallery offers free access to over 500,000 historical images inclu… [read review or visit site]

The American Memory Project

The American Memory Project

This amazing Library of Congress site includes about a hundred photo and document collections (see complete list) o… [read review or visit site]



Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Frankenstein | Drew Struzan | 2011 Movie Art Print Poster Mondo Tees Ken TaylorTamami Shima (b.1937) Mid Century 1961 Modernist Landscape Japanese Woodblock1950 Vintage Pablo Picasso Etching Print, L'age De Soleil, Atelier G. LeblancBnksy Flag With Coa Unsigned Not Dolk Martin Whatson Nick WalkerShepard Fairey Laws Of Physics Variant Letterpress Print Poster ObeySpace Invader X Mekanism Skateboard Kit #62/100 Rare - Banksy Kaws Faile ObeyMid Century Joan Miro Abstract Creature Serigraph / Silkscreen Art Print Nr YqzVintage Signed Boris O'klein French Cartoon Dog Doctors Office Etching PrintsMaxfield Parrish Framed Print C. 1910 Jason And His Teacher Chiron The Centaur"ginkakuji Garden" Toshi Yoshida Ukiyo-e Signed Woodcut Woodblock Japan 1911Set Of 4 Vintage Hand Signed Norman Rockwell Seasons Of Love Lithograph PrintsAaron Horkey 2006 Sunno & Boris Burlesque Screen Print Rockart PosterAntique Signed French Erotica Satirical Etching Print Man Spanking Woman W/ ShoeThomas Kinkade "mountain Retreat" Limited S/n Edition Canvas Print Coa 4375-11Antique Pencil Signed, William Ostrander West Coast California Etching Prints NrTomorrow Forever Walter Margaret Keane Big Eye Vintage Matted Print 16"x20" 1964David Choe Yellow Armour S/n Like Fairey Banksy Nepal Fundraiser Dvdasa Marq Spusta Wading Mini On The Rarest Stock: Blue Cosmos Foil !wow! Signed Mint Antonio Guanse Brea (b.1926) Spain Vintage Modernist Abstract Embossed Etching Vintage Hiroshi Yoshida Japanese Woodblock Print Sarusawa Pond Trees Pagoda19thc Vue De New Orleans Antique Louis Le Breton Hand Colored Lithograph PrintVintage Irene Patten 1935 Rare Springtime Maiden Pin-up Print Risqué Nymph RareMr. Brainwash Signed Rare Print Only 25 Ever MadeSandra Chevrier 2013 Original On Paper Mixed Media Banksy Faile Brainwash ObeyBrown & Bigelow Poster Size Elvgren '49 Pin-up Print Nude Risque Modern Venus NrShepard Fairey Obey "peace & Justice" 2012 Holiday Ornament - Very Rare MintTadashi Nakayama Original Signed Japanese Woodblock Print 1976 67/85Shepard Fairey Obey Peace Guard 2008 Screen Print Poster SignedVintage Pablo Picasso La Danse Du Berger Original Spanish Lithograph Print Yqz1895 "study Of Roses" Antique Yard-long Print By Paul De Longpre' Framed & GlassHand Colored Folio Mckenney & Hall Indian Folio Print 1836: Wa-baun-see-chiefMatt Ferguson Avengers: Age Of Ultron Official Marvel Print #/100 In Hand HcgPaul Berthon Rare Original 1898 Lithograph Poster Magda Art Nouveau Large Lot 112 Natural History & Botanical Prints - Audubon, Bon Ton, Seba, EtcLautrec Orig 1897 Lithograph Poster Maitres Affiche Revue Blanche Plate #82 A+Sideshow Gethsemoni Queen Of The Dead Premium Art Print #77/200 By ArtgermHand Signed Zoe Mozert 1940's Bewitching Eyes Pin-up Print Jean Harlow HollywoodVintage Pablo Picasso Don Quixote / Torros Spanish Etching Drawing Print YqzAaron Horkey 2006 Converge Burlesque Screen Print Rockart PosterMaxfield Parrish Spirit Of The Night 1919 Edison Mazda Calendar *extremely Rare*Sister Mary Corita Kent Signed Serigraph I In Daisy (1969) Psychedelic Pop ArtRare Hand Colored Folio Mckenney & Hall Indian Folio Print 1836: Mar-ko-me-teRare Hand Colored Folio Mckenney & Hall Indian Folio Print 1836: John RidgeJeremy Geddes Fortress Edition 60 Signed Print + Banksy Obey - Shepard Fairey - Message From Our Sponsor Screen Print S/n 450Vintage Rare 1930s Enoch Bolles Pin Up Prints Lot Of 8 Thomas D Murphy Unusual1946 Pablo Picasso Mother And Child Framed Lithograph Beautiful Limited To 500Hirst Invader Space Evil Pure Op Geometric Silkscreen Damien Riley Bridget Art Marygold Print - Art Deco - Fairy Princess, Peacock, And Cupid - 1920s Alexander Calder Gallery Poster, Galleria Dell Obelisco, Rome, 1956Umphrey's Mcgee Poster Chuck Sperry Fox Theater Oakland 2015 Signed #/189Vtg American Fly Fishing Museum Shadowbox~engraving & Flies Lures Leyden Nr Yqz Nouveau (1915) German 'dachau' Expressionist Signed Woodcut By Carl ThiemannVintage Signed Mid Century Abstract Mod Cubist Faces Etching Monotype PaintingAntique Signed Paris Louis Xiv Prison De La Bastille Hand Colored French EtchingVintage Fox Print Advertising Shrigley's Bakers El Paso, Ill Indian MaidenSalvador Dali Vintage Divine Comedy Paradise 02 Religious Iconic Figure WoodcutAuthentic Blue Dog George Rodrigue We Will Rise Again Signed Print 2005 20"x 28"1967 Salvador Dali Original Christ Crucifixion Biblia Sacra Signed $5500 AuthenVintage Margaret Keane The Stray Big Eyes Turner Framed Print 28x16 Walter