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    

Antique 1894 Aw Elson & Company Original Abraham Lincoln Carbon Print, NrMarq Spusta "inspired By Life" Gold Ed 9/9 Very Rare Japanese Woodblock Print "shirahama" By Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950)Martin Whatson Original Artwork - 2013 - 1/1 - Coa - Banksy - Fairey - Chevrier19thc Antique George Washington Portrait Victorian Engraving Wood Folk Art FrameMarq Spusta Exposing An Elder Art Print Mini 7x7D*face Dface Artwork - 2008 - 1/1 - Coa - Banksy - Fairey - ChevrierJapanese Woodblock Print Three Little Islands By Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950)Marq Spusta, "thinkin' On It" 5x7, Dark Shimmer, Mint, Tyler Stout Mondo Con Goonies Red/gold Variant #70/300 1962 1st Edition March Chagall Lithographs Jerusalem Windows Book, Jean Leymarie1669 Conrad Gesner Folio - Monsters Mermaids Mermen - ! 4 ! Original WoodcutsVtg French Listed Artist Mayeu Passa Silent Drama Lithograph Print Signed NmbrdRare Kaws Baby Print 06 Signed Numbered Framed 24x24Marq Spusta Stationary Bound Metallic Art Print Mini 7x7Sm 1884 Antique John Monks Etching Print, Flock Of Sheep & Landscape NrTyler Stout Marvel Avengers Age Ultron Movie Print Art Poster Hulk Signed CreaseMarq Spusta Tweek Metallic Blue Art Print Mini 7x7Marq Spusta Secrets Of The Sacred Scarab Metallic Blue Art Print Mini 7x7Shepard Fairey Obey Print Art Poster Duality Of Humanity Kaws Banksy Blaine S/nBirger Sandzen Wood Block Lake In The Rockies Signed1669 Conrad Gesner Folio - Monster 7 Headed Hydra Original WoodcutGabz Star Wars Trilogy Screen Print Bottleneck Poster Art Grzegorz DomaradzkiRare 1916 Patriotic Wwi Original James Ross Bryson Lrg Vintage Pin-up Print NrVtg French Listed Artist Mayeu Passa "le 38" Lithograph Print Signed NumberedVintage 1930s Jules Erbit The Fan Dancer Pin Up Print Art Deco Nude Flapper NrWidespread Panic Opal Variant #3/15 Chuck Sperry Lady Oakland 2014 Fox Theater Mini Creature Caravan By Marq Spusta From Studio 40% To CharityJapanese Woodblock Print Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950) Mt Fuji Near Lake YamanakaMaxfield Parrish 1939 Lithograph Art Deco Vintage Thos. D. Murphy Rare Print NrThe Starlet - Hail, Caesar! By Chuck Sperry - Hcg Screenprint Poster - Xxx/150Japanese Woodblock Print By Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950) Calm Wind SignedJacques Hnizdovsky Ram, Woodcut 1961Widespread Panic Oakland Fox 2014 Lady Natural Fiber Variant Chuck Sperry MintTyler Stout Django Unchained Signed Variant Mondo1612 Lauro - Daniel's Dream Monsters - Fine Handcolored Folio EngravingMarq Spusta In My Head Mini Print Gold RareA Peasant Girl In Spring Snow Japanese Woodblock Print By Hiroaki ShoteiSpecial Sale! Salvador Dali, Original Lithograph, Chevaliers Proposal, SignedSpirit Of The Sacred Scarab By Marq Spusta Direct From Studio 40% To CharityRarest Marilyn Monroe Earl Moran Pin-up Print Brown & Bigelow 1949 Matador Pose Lrg Vintage Irving Amen Mid-century Modernist Woodcut Print, Girl Bird & CatMondo X Field Notes "dead Print" Memo Books Le 3-pack Tomer Hanuka & Jock, Mint!Vintage Mid-century Signed Jean Schonwalter Lithograph Print, A Days OutingMarq Spusta Signed Bliss Bug Black Rubber Art Print Mini 7x738/245 James Jean Xenograph Box Edition Signed Limited Letter Press Art Print Japanese Woodblock Print By Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950) Hirosake CastleVintage 1930s John Everard Pictorialist Photogravure Nude Seaside Water NymphAudrey Kawasaki X Vna X Thinkspace Gallery Signed Numbered Limited Box Set PrintPrimus Concert Poster January 25th, 2016 Duluth, Georgia Rhys Cooper Slightly Damaged Sale! Salvador Dali, Limited Edition Lithograph, Signed1669 Seahorse Monster Turtles - Gesner Folio Orig 3 Woodcuts Hand Colored19thc Antique George Washington Portrait Old Engraving Victorian Shadowbox Frame19thc Antique George Washington Portrait Old Engraving Victorian Shadowbox FrameMarq Spusta Analog Fuzz Friend - Lime #/18 Limited Art Print Poster 12x12Chuck Sperry "the Starlet" Rare "hail,cesar !" Movie Premier Poster Hero ComplexLimited Edition Kaws X Hennessy Vs Conag 700ml Dface Bearbrick Obey Ysp FuturaMondo - Tyler Stout - Wrath Of Khan Signed ScreenprintFabulous Art Deco Calendar Pin-up Print Eggleson Lady Of Mystery Rare Antique NrJapanese Woodblock Print By Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950) Misty Day In Nikko