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”)

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]

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]

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    

Authentic Sgnd Salvador Dali Gold Tone Lithograph Damis & Durval Marquis De SadeAntique Tinted Engraving 22/50, Cupid & Nude Psyche, Pencil Signed ??? NrShepard Fairey Toxicity Inspector 2007 Signed & Numbered Screen Print ObeyAntique Engelbert Lap Austrian Arts & Crafts Landscape Colored Woodcut PrintFive Birds - Marq Spusta Screen Print - Printer's Proof Very Rare Signed Antique 1905 Kathe Kollwitz German Soft Ground Etching Gesenkter Frauenkopf YqzLarge 1857 J.w. Hill, Boston Skyline Ships Harbor Tinted Engraving, NrMarq Spusta - Antlorius Orkaphylx - Smaller Blue - Art Print - Xx/50Earl Moran Framed Vintage 1930s Art Deco Nude Pin-up Print Starlight Rare B & B Antique Richard Blome 17thc Engraving, Brook Hawking, Falconry HuntingLarge Framed Vintage Henry Clive Pin-up Print Sultana Exotic Maiden Frees Dove Aaron Horkey Lord Of The Rings Return Of The King Regular Mondo Rare Signed /260Now In Noplace Screen Print & Mini Pack By Marq Spusta From Studio 70% CharityFramed Sabra Field Original Print Winter Light Vermont Artist,pencil SignedMarq Spusta - Antlorius Orkaphylx - Art Print - Xxx/100Marq Spusta - Mini Creature Caravan - Gold Shimmer/flat BackAntique Pencil Signed Don Swann Boat Harbor Etching, Academy From Eastport Maine1918 Antique Maxfield Parrish Chromolithograph Print, Garden Of Allah, NrHello Kitty Obey Giant Shepard Fairey Print SanrioOrig Shoichi Hasegawa Ltd Ed Japanese Lyrical Abstract Etching Rencontre YqzJoan Miro Galerie Maeght Exhibition Poster "sculpture Et Art Graphique" 1950 YqzJason Edmiston Spider-man Eyes Without A Face Print Sdcc 2016 Mondo Art DeadpoolChuck Sperry | Beatles Blotter Print "i'd Love To Turn You On" | Limited #/100Helen Hyde American Artist Color Woodcut Japanese The Bath Pencil Signed 1909Marq Spusta Mothamus 7" X 7" Gold Fleck MiniMarq Spusta Dripples 7x7 Gold Sparkle Shimmer18thc Antique 1729, Jan Goere Engraving, Roman Ruins, Steps Of Jupiter, Nr1970 Pablo Picasso Xxiv Festival D' Avignon Exhibition Lithograph Poster Nr YqzJason Edmiston Spider-man Eyes Without A Face Print Sdcc 2016 MondoWpa Era Alexandre Hogue Print - Moonlight - Pencil Signed - 20/50 - Taos?Now In Noplace Screen Print & Mini Pack By Marq Spusta From Studio 80% CharityMarq Spusta Smeezy Navy Teal Blue Art Print Variant Full Size Poster SneezyMarq Spusta Phil 5 X 7 Mini Print Signed Rare Art Not Lil Listeners ProgressingMr. Brainwash With All My Love Screen Print Sold Out Street Art MbwShepard Fairey 2000 Power To The Posse Tokyosigned And Numbered Obey Giant JapanWidespread Panic Chuck Sperry Fox Theater Oakland 2014 Wave Foil Art Print #6/15Woodblock Print, Charles W Bartlett, Lake Dal, Kashmir, 1916, Boat, Lake, Blue Marq Spusta "progressing" 7 X 7 Print 2016 Purple ShimmerLed Zeppelin Poster Shepard Fairey Obey Giant PrintEggleston Framed 1932 Art Deco Calendar Print Indian Maiden In Canoe Starlight Hiroshi Yoshida 1876 - 1950 Woodblock Print Bamboo WoodRare 1841 N. Currier Lithograph-death Of Tecumseh-battle Of Thames 1813-framedShepard Fairey - Cold Chillin Signed Limited Edition Print - Obey Giant 2008Listed R.c. Gorman Original Signed & #'d Thistle Jar Vintage Large Lithograph NrSabra Field "moonrise, July" Woodcut Print Signed 1986 Vermont 13"x13" Exc ConMondo Poster Jaws Phantom City Creative Variant Xx/150 Sold OutOriginal Adolph Hohenstein Lithograph From Les Maitres De L'affiche Plate 180Antique Mid 19th C Eduard Mandel Mater Dolorosa Af Carlo Dolci Engraving #2 YqzRetna Graffiti Street Art Braddock TilesListed R.c. Gorman Orig. Signed & #'d Moonrise Vintage Large Lithograph No Res.Vintage Pencil Signed Marino Marini Modernist 3 Horse & Rider Serigraph Print NrSlightly Damaged Sale! Guillaume Azoulay, Limited Edition Etching, La JumentMarq Spusta Sproutings In Symmetry Mini Pink ShimmerMondo Captain America Print Rory Kurtz Sdcc 2016Snoopy Drawing Dreaming Print Signed Charles SchulzShepard Fairey Obey Giant Rare Peace Guard Screen Print 2008 18 X 24 Mint ApLarge Michael Godard Giclee On Canvas, Case Of Bad Apple, Martini & Olives Nr2016 Sdcc Mondo Admiral Ackbar Mike Mitchell Sold Out ExclusiveOrig Anne Kesler Shields Op Art Print Halftone Vector Pattern Pencil Signed YqzDface Canvas "spend Up Kid" Very Very Rare Hand Signed Dface Canvas D*face Art