“Prints” vs “Reproductions”… ie: Kristen Geeks Out for a moment

24 Apr

Here is one of my biggest “pet peeves” (well, not one of my BIGGEST- but let’s all exaggerate for dramatic effect)…. the term “prints” being used to describe “art reproductions”.

I was a printmaking major in art school. Intaglio printmaking, to be exact (but I also focused my study heavily on relief printing- woodcuts and linocuts). Intaglio is where you etch images into metal plates, ink them up, and run them through the press so that the image on the plate transfers onto a piece of paper. This is all done by hand (the etching, the inking, the cranking of the gigantic press lever to run it through)… no computers. The printing press I learned to work with isn’t much different than the one designed by Gutenberg in the 1400’s. Printmaking with plates/woodblocks and presses is a very old skill, and one that is dying quickly because of digital printmaking.

Then there are “modern” prints… ie: reproductions of paintings and already existing works of arts.. These are NOT made on a press. These are NOT true “prints” (or at least in my pretentious and fully biased opinion). These are made with a super high quality copy machine… which makes them “copies”. There is nothing wrong with these, and they’re a great way for people to be able to own artwork they love if they can’t afford the original, or if the original is no longer available. I have no problem with their existence- I just don’t like for them to be called “prints”.

Because “modern reproductions” are commonly referred to as “prints”, and because Intaglio and relief printmaking is becoming more scarce- very few people know what the fuck I’m talking about when I talk about printmaking or when I have REAL prints for sale. I even worked with one gallery where the owner didn’t know what I was talking about when I brought a bunch of Intaglio etchings and linocuts to exhibit. The conversation went like this:

Gallery Owner: How did you make those pieces?

Me: They’re prints.

G.O.: Ok… but how was the original piece made?

Me: Those are the original pieces… they’re etchings and linocuts.

G.O.: But you just said they were prints. Where are the originals?

Me: Those are the originals. I printed them myself with a press.

G.O.: But you just said they were prints… how are they the originals?

Me: I printed them MYSELF off the plates with a press.

G.O. (very confused): Plates? What kind of plates do you use with those machines?

Me: No electronic machines… just an old manual press.

G.O.: Um… ok …… but where are the originals?

Me: Those ARE the originals.

G.O.: But you just said they were prints…..

This went on for quite a while until I explained the entire printmaking process to her. Yes, this was a person who made her living in the art world, but had NO CLUE what I was talking about. That is how common the “prints” vs “reproductions” confusion is.

When I make prints, I make really really small editions (multiple pressings of the same plate, for those new to this world). Alot of printmakers make around 50 or more… I never make more than 15 or 20. Alot of folks think this is silly since the process of making the plates is very labor intensive (because each color on a print has a separate plate), and then setting it up so that when you print each color plate it has to be set up PERFECTLY so that it all matches up and is in perfect registration is a TOTAL pain in the ass. But I love the process, and by the time I finally get to the stage where I’m cranking everything through the press, I don’t really care about the piece anymore. So I only do a handful of them.

Long story short (too late!), I have opened up my vault of prints that I’ve made- and a bunch of them are now for sale on my webstore. BUT, because I have no problems with “reproductions” and I get tons of requests for “prints of my paintings”, I had a bunch of these made of some of my paintings. So there’s now the best of both worlds. Here are a couple of the original prints that are available:

AND here are a couple of the “print reproductions” that are available:

ALSO…. I got word today that my new plate sets are currently in transit to my “office” (I like saying “office” because it makes me feel official… but it’s really just my house… so I’m a total liar and NOT official AT ALL). But my new little plate sets are available for pre-order on my site. Hopefully everyone will be happy about them!! They make me giggle….

I wrote alot more than I originally planned to. And I’m tired, but still have mountains of work to do. And my husband’s band is now all in my house, and it’s getting stinky (but I love those fellas, so I’ll deal with a little stink every once in a while). Here’s a little video I took of Uncle Sturgeon, dear sweet Bill Cashman (yes, when referring to him you must always say his first and last name) and Sully playing some game they made up in the back yard…..

I like those funny funny boys.

Over and out.


12 Responses to ““Prints” vs “Reproductions”… ie: Kristen Geeks Out for a moment”

  1. Lemissa April 24, 2008 at 9:05 pm #

    Yay!!! I learned today that the Kristen Ferrell original prints that I have are one of 16 and one of 12 respectively…I knew they were limited, but I didn’t know HOW limited…and what I love best is that I got to see each in progress…from pencil sketch to completed hanging on my walls PRINTS! I love you lady…oh and we went to the garden store and they had little baby chickens and it made me miss you.

  2. Kristen Ferrell April 24, 2008 at 9:37 pm #

    AHHHHHH!!!! i LOOOVVEEEE baby chickens!!!! i want to own chickens so much… but i don’t think all the cats would play nice with them. next time you see them, give them all a little kiss on the head from me (but be sure and cover your eyes when you do… the mama chicken might not like you giving her babies kisses… i don’t want you to get an eye pecked out)

    it makes me so happy that my prints are in your house. i love you too, lady!!!!

  3. whitney April 24, 2008 at 9:44 pm #


    basically, it sounds like the printing process is similiar to silkscreen printing… like, each color has a different screen. fun stuff. lengthy process. whee!!!

    i want to play “stupid ball”! that should be included in our “field day”, whenever THAT happens. πŸ˜‰

    homesick was gonna try and get on the bill for the LOC show tomorrow night at the showcase cause the opening band broke up.
    no luck though.


  4. Kristen Ferrell April 24, 2008 at 9:58 pm #

    fffuuucckkk!!! i want you guys to be there tomorrow night!! if brad has a sitter wrangled up, then i’m going to be at that show!! (i’ll be hiding out by the vans, though… that place gets toooooo nutso for me… and too stinky).

    field day needs to happen. and a massive “stupid ball” game needs to go down. there’s another version of stupid ball where one person is blindfolded and has to walk around and try to tag the other players while the other players are throwing soccer balls at them (and it’s usually aimed at hitting crotches). there are many variations of “stupid ball”, and apparently the rules are subject to change at any given moment (usually in favor of Sully). ha!!


  5. whitney April 24, 2008 at 10:05 pm #

    driving to the showcase is BRUTAL. especially on a friday night. i was nearly late to the last show we played there with loc. took me almost 5 hours to get there….. ugh.

    there is this one game one of my guy friends came up with that involves a deck of cards and a super-soaker. basically… each player gets one card face down and everyone flips it at the same time. whoever has the highest card gets the gun, the lowest card holder gets shot in one spot. the last round, the lowest card gets the entire fun wasted on them.
    its pretty fun, especially when you play indoors. haha.

    whenever you feel like coming out of your house, you should plan a field day that’s convenient for you. hehe.

  6. Cassie April 25, 2008 at 5:46 am #

    I love that you are so dead set in making sure people understand the printing process. There is no good reason that an artform should die, especially if it is being run out due to “electronic convience”.

    Love love love the plates!

  7. dollypopstheamyjeen April 25, 2008 at 6:22 am #

    ok so my dearest pal cristina is going to help me with lino cutting . it’s a one of her radamous ways of creating beauty and one of my fave all around, but a question i have for you, i have heard some people complain lino vs wood prefer wood because the etchings last longer.
    what has been your experience with this?
    and have you ever thought of doing wallpaper for entire rooms?
    and stupid ball, i love the fact they are wearing helmuts but aiming uh……..oh, hence the name ? hahahaha i need to play that.

  8. Lucy April 25, 2008 at 7:50 am #

    I LOVE what you’ve said about “prints”.
    I guess the same applies to real dark room photographic printing. Such a shame…
    I have a really really big soft spot for your prints!!
    I am this close to getting a print of “shutting the parrot up”! That’s always been one of my faves ❀ (Even if I am a fully converted parrot lover, and can’t afford it)!
    But what the heck! Do you know how much prints are to ship internationally?

  9. Janai April 25, 2008 at 10:06 am #

    I couldn’t even read the whole thing.
    I’m in studo art and we do a lot of the printmaking and right now were doing a wood cut of Jesus dying on the cross(I’m so frickinq far behind) and I understand how you feel. Triple kudos and for printinq everythinq by hand. Its a killer but the finished product is so rewardinq and beautiful

  10. Dee Stroi April 27, 2008 at 9:45 am #

    I actually know what you’re talking about. I had Graphic Arts for 3 years and highschool and we used those crazy printing presses. My memory is a little fuzzy though. *lol* I’ve been thinking about getting back into it.

    Those videos make me giggle. You should start a “Stupid Ball” team! i wanna join. πŸ™‚

  11. Kristen Ferrell April 29, 2008 at 10:14 am #

    I have friends who are photographers, and they get really frustrated with how the “digital world” has taken over with photography. Digital photographs have taken the value out of film photographs that are developed with skill in a darkroom. There’s the argument that all this technology is making it easier for photographers/printmakers/etc to create their art without going through all the technical steps…. but I think the technical steps are what make it amazing. To look at a piece of art and know that it was all done by hand and will skills that had to be taught and perfected impresses me. Being able to master “photoshop” does not.

  12. dreaffiff August 3, 2008 at 11:55 am #

    I agreed with you

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