"No, no" I replied, "it is an original."
"Really?" she said, surprised and delighted, "Oh I thought it was just a print!"
Drypoint etching 6 x 6 cm
It's easy to see why there is confusion; despite having one of the richest vocabularies in the world, the English language still uses the same word to mean an original piece of art hand created by the artist and a scanned reproduction of an image run off on a machine. The problem has been exacerbated since the 1990s by artists selling giclée (inkjet) reproductions of their paintings as 'limited edition prints'. You can hardly blame the non-artist public for not immediately making the distinction. So what are printmakers to do to protect our craft? We can sulk and stamp and weep or we can quietly, determinedly and politely make it possible for people to see and understand what we do.
I enjoy giving short demonstrations at art events and in my studio during the York Open Studios weekends, and I also have leaflets on my stand at art shows, explaining the processes. I post step by step demos and photos of work in progress here on the blog and I have put a printmaking guide and a glossary of terms on my website. And then of course I also teach workshops for those who are curious enough to want to try for themselves.
I've now taken another step, and after wrestling with self consciousness and fear of making a hash of it, I stuck my phone in a clamp, switched on the camera and made my first YouTube video. Appropriately perhaps, it shows the making of that little Robin etching which was given out at Christmas and which brought some misunderstandings to light. I'd love you to watch it if you have 5 minutes.
Now I've made this leap I will be making more of these videos. I hope they help to spread the word about what printmaking is, on behalf of all printmakers whose work is so much more than 'just a print'.
At the time of writing the remaining 'Robin' prints in the edition can be purchased in my Etsy shop.