‘What is a Print?’ by Gallery Director Tabitha Philpott-Kent

Artists have long supplemented their larger practice by making prints: original works, usually on paper, created in numbered editions and produced in collaboration with some kind of press.

There are many different types of prints, and the process is constantly evolving, but below our Gallery Director Tabitha explores the four most common techniques you will hear about:


Using an etching needle, an artist scratches an image onto a metal plate covered with wax. This plate is then submerged in acid, which eats into the metal exposed by the scratched lines. The longer the plate is left in the acid, the deeper and darker the line will be. The plate is cleaned, inked, and cleaned again, leaving only the incised lines filled with ink. Dampened paper and a protective cloth are placed over the plate, which is squeezed through an etching press — the pressure forcing the paper into the etched lines to pick up the ink. The image is printed in reverse, and an indentation, known as the ‘plate mark’, is left by the plate’s edges.


The artist draws onto stone or a plate (often metal, but other materials can be used) using a grease-based medium — normally special lithographic crayons, or greasy ink known as tusche. The plate is then treated with a chemical solution that ensures the image will attract printing ink, and that blank areas repel ink and attract water. A solvent fixes the image, and the surface is dampened with water. Oil-based ink is then applied to the stone with a roller, adhering only to the image. Finally, the plate is placed on a lithographic press and covered with damp paper and board — a pressure bar ensuring force is evenly applied across the image. The image is printed in reverse, with separate plates used for complex images and multiple colours. This technique allows the artists to freehand draw which makes the final work much more painterly.

Screenprint/ Silkscreen

An image is cut into a sheet of paper or plastic film, creating a stencil. This stencil is then placed in a frame, which has a layer of fine mesh stretched across it, forming a ‘screen’ (initially silk was used, hence one will often see the term Silkscreen). A sheet of paper is placed below the screen, and ink is pushed through the stencil from above, using a rubber blade or squeegee. Only cut-out portions of the stencil print. In addition to stencils, a photographic image can be reproduced on the screen using light-sensitive gelatins. This technique has the effect of layered paint.


An image is sketched on a block of wood before the surface is carved into with gouging tools. The resulting raised portions of the block are then coated in ink using a roller. A sheet of paper is placed on top and pressure is applied, leaving an impression of the block’s raised areas in reverse. Woodcut is the oldest printmaking process

Original Print or Copy?

Original prints are distinct works independent from any other body of the artist’s work, an image that is made and then transferred to paper via ink as many times as the edition requires. Fine art prints result from a close collaboration between the artist and the print studio. Printers — the people who work with the artist to produce an edition — are highly skilled technicians, and are often artists in their own right, they are typically referred to as Master Printers.

As a result they are true works of art, and as important to the artist’s oeuvre as drawings or other works on paper.

An original print is a unique artwork, it is generally produced as a limited number of impressions, known as an edition, and each print is given an edition number, typically written as a fraction — for example, 24/50. The number to the right of the slash indicates the edition size while the figure to the left is the individual print’s number. Numbering the print is often done by the print studio.

An artist may also produce a limited number of artist’s proofs, often marked A/P, that are identical in nature to the standard edition. Here again, fractions may be used to indicate the total number of proofs, and the print number (e.g. A/P 1/4). Other proofs may be made at an earlier stage, as the artist and printer develop an image or test different compositions. These are known as state proofs, trial proofs or colour proofs. These can be unique, with differences in colour combinations, paper types or size.

There are often proofs reserved as a gift for the printer, these are known as Printer’s Proofs and will often have PP written on them.

When the image is perfected, a proof is made and signed B.A.T. (an abbreviation of the French bon à tirer, or ‘ready to print’). The rest of the edition is matched to this image, which is unique and traditionally kept by the printer.

Hors commerce is French for 'before trade.' You may see this on a print as H.C. These proofs are typically reserved for the publisher, but are often released into the market as well.

Are all prints signed? What does it mean if I find a print without an artist’s signature?

The majority of the prints sold are signed — though not all prints are issued with a signature. Warhol and Picasso both stamp-signed some of their prints, and some larger portfolio editions were only signed on the title page. Don’t be alarmed if a print is only initialed. It doesn’t mean that it is worth less — indeed, some artists only initial their prints.

How should I care for my print?

How you frame your print is the most important long-term decision you make when it comes to caring for and keeping the piece. Make sure you go to a reputable framer: it’s worth paying for a print to be properly mounted using the right materials and use UV perspex or glass.

Three key tips: if a print has bright colours, don’t hang it in direct sunlight; ensure a print is kept away from any source of moisture; don’t trim the sheet to try to fit it into a smaller frame.

‘The Artist in their Studio’ by Gallery Manager Costanza

Artists’ studios are the perfect place to see and understand the creative process that makes an artist unique. Studios can be small and tidy places or big messy warehouses, as well as everything in between. When you enter an artist’s studio, you are entering into their most intimate and private world. This is why artist studios are so special and why they are often inaccessible.

One of the most well-known artist studios is The Factory, where Andy Warhol created his artworks.  It was not only a place to create work, but also somewhere to meet the many important people who came to pay court, and a space where he managed the process of creating art and print-making.

Andy Warhol had always been interested in printmaking in order to pursue his goal to ‘industrialise’ art. The process of printing multiple copies of the same image is also art according to Andy Warhol. In The Factory, he explored and refined the screen printing technique creating his most famous masterpieces.

However, an artist’s studio is not necessarily a confined space. It can include different environments, even city streets.  Keith Haring started his art in streets and in underground walkways until the opening of POP SHOP, a shop/gallery in which he could sell his art.

For Haring, printmaking was a fertile ‘middle-ground,’ a natural bridge between his unique works and the reproduction of his imagery on affordable apparel, posters, buttons and other commercial products. Haring experimented with numerous printmaking techniques throughout his career, even as he was investigating diverse media in his unique work, and simultaneously seeking alternative channels for promoting and sustaining the accessibility of his increasingly popular imagery.

Artist’s studios can also be collective spaces. Artists such as Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, who had a prolific career with printmaking, were frequent visitors of the Curwen Press Studio in London.  The studio was the focal point of print creators and makers in London in the 20th century. Very quickly, it became the centre of culture and art among all artists in London, with the studio becoming space where artists were given the opportunity of learning about printmaking techniques under the guidance of skilled experts.

Here great artists like Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore had the chance to acquire the skills of printmaking and create the many of their renowned prints.

Click here, or on any of the artist images to see all the available prints in our Mayfair Gallery

Parallel worlds: Artist Jan Hendrix on exploring Virgil’s Aeneid with Seamus Heaney

26 January, 2017. IRISH NEWS

Before his death in 2013, Seamus Heaney had begun working with artist Jan Hendrix on a special version of his translation of The Aeneid: Book VI by Virgil. David Roy spoke to the Mexico City-based Dutch artist about a new exhibition of work from the project and his long-time friendship with the poet.

"HE IS always missed – but tonight he is even more seriously missed.": The late Seamus Heaney was very much on the mind of Dutch artist and architect Jan Hendrix as he prepared to preview a new exhibition based on the final collaboration with his friend of over 25 years.

Hendrix's large silk-screened on silver leaf panoramic artworks of the dramatic Mexican landscape were created for a new collector's version of Heaney's posthumously published 2016 translation of Virgil's The Aeneid: Book VI.

Available in a limited edition of 78 from Bonnefant Press, the handsome volume was launched at the preview of The Aeneid, Book VI - Jan Hendrix on Tuesday evening at London's Shapero Modern gallery in association with Maestro Arts.

Jan Hendrix's work will be exhibited in the gallery at Shapero Modern until 18 February 2017

Read the full article in The Irish News

Exit Through the Gift Shop: V&A licences protest posters for exhibition

Anti-war posters used on merchandise for the Records & Rebels 1966-70 exhibition

A range of anti-war posters acquired by Shapero Rare Books from the private collection of the late publisher Felix Dennis have been licensed to the V&A.

The protest posters have been used on merchandise including Christmas cards and t-shirts for the You Say You Want a Revolution?: Records & Rebels 1966-70 exhibition.

The exhibition – which opened at the museum in September and runs until February 26, 2017 – explores the counter culture revolutions of the late 1960s, along with the music, fashion and political angst that defined the era. Images bought from the Felix Dennis Estate were licensed to V&A for gift products including Peace Now, an image of a dove originally silkscreened onto discarded computer paper.


America in Revolt: The Art of Protest, an exhibition at Shapero Modern in London was curated by the historian Barry Miles earlier this year.

Barry commented: “These posters were not designed as art, but for a specific political purpose, and yet they inevitably fit into the history of graphic art, borrowing heavily from the Atelier Populaire posters of the student uprising in Paris of May 1968 and the counter-cultural posters of the period.

“They are a frozen snapshot of American graphic design at the end of the 60s, as well as a unique sociological record of a society in crisis.”

See more V&A products using Berkely protest poster designs


Amanita – Preview evening

On Thursday 2 June, Shapero Modern hosted the preview of its new show, Encyclopaedia, by Kazakh Moscow-based artist Amanita. Here are the photos of that amazing evening!

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Steven Walter’s Nova Utopia at Shapero Modern


13-30 April 2016

Shapero Modern is delighted to present a new print by the acclaimed British artist Stephen Walter.


Entitled Nova Utopia, the artwork is inspired by Thomas More’s philosophical novel Utopia, and a map of the world he imagined drawn by Abraham Ortelius. ‘Utopia’ by Thomas More, a work of fiction and a political philosophy written 500 years ago in 1516, is an everlasting inspiration for both political theory and art. This book, a narrative depicting a fictional island society and its religious, social and political customs, is about persisting human desire to create order and unity in the world, and the imagination of a perfect human society where justice exists for all.  Walter’s hand-drawn map updates this to the 21st century, showing a world of mass tourism, package holidays, retirement homes, luxury resorts, banking districts and cultural hotspots.

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Nova Utopia is presented inside a ‘Hagioscope frame’ containing a movable magnifying glass with an LED light. Using this magnifying glass, only one person at the time can light and explore the artwork within, one piece at the time. This frame is a metaphor of today’s society since it goes against the idea that Utopia is for everybody, showing that this world can never be seen in total, but rather on a personal and local level.


The drawings of Stephen Walter have evolved from his fascination with maps, public signs, symbols, semiotics and investigation into obsessive drawing techniques. His maps and beautiful landscape works are rich in details and full of autobiographical references, epithets, hidden associations and wider contradictions, exploring the phenomenon of personal and collective experiences of real and fictional places.

Says Walter: ‘This map is essentially a collection of a number of utopian and dystopian manifestations, come that I yearn for, and also some of the things that I wish didn’t exist.’


Henry Moore – ‘Mother & Child’

Shapero Modern are proud to present Mother & Child, a remarkable exhibition of Henry Moore's final work.  This poignant collection of thirty prints illustrates the most affecting relationship in intimate detail, from the protection of a helpless being, to the quiet chastisement of a mischievous child.

"The subject Mother and Child is eternal and unending, with so many sculptural possibilities in it - a small form in relation to a big form, the big form protecting the small one, and so on."

- Henry Moore

The exhibition will run from Friday December 11th until the 23rd.

To view the catalogue, please click here.