Guide to Monoprint

A monoprint is a unique, one-off print which is not part of an edition.  The characteristic of this method is that no two prints are alike.

A monoprint means that a single impression of an image is taken from a print matrix – for example a wood block or a collagraph plate. Rather than printing an edition of multiple copies of a single image, only one impression is produced. Monoprints may also involve elements that change, where the artist reworks the image in-between impressions so that no two prints are identical, and may also involve collage or hand-painted additions.

A common way of creating a monoprint is to roll out a layer of ink onto a plastic or metal plate, and remove areas of ink using various tools including rags and cotton buds. Paper stencils can also be placed over areas to mask them out, and ink can also be painted directly onto the plate surface. The plate is then passed through a press with paper on top and the printed image revealed. This can be done multiple times to build up images with multiple layers and colours. Altering the type, colour and pressure of the ink used – creating different impressions – can also make monoprints. This kind of monoprint is often referred to as a monotype.

Another common way of making a monoprint is to roll out a layer of ink onto a glass or plastic surface, and place a piece of paper face down on top. The paper is then drawn onto with a pencil or other implement, transferring the ink underneath onto the paper.

Lots of members at WYPW use monoprinting in their work, why not have a go yourself on one of our courses?