Linocut – Definition, Examples, History & More – Art Techniques and Materials Glossary

What is Linocut?

Linocut is a printmaking technique that involves carving a design into a sheet of linoleum. The linoleum is then inked and pressed onto paper, creating a unique and intricate print. This process allows artists to create multiple copies of their design, making it a popular choice for creating prints and illustrations.

History of Linocut

Linocut has its roots in woodcut printing, which dates back to ancient China. However, linoleum as a material for printmaking was not widely used until the late 19th century. The first linoleum block prints were created in the early 1900s by artists such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, who were drawn to the medium for its ease of use and versatility.

Materials and Tools for Linocut

To create a linocut print, artists will need a few key materials and tools. These include linoleum blocks, carving tools, ink, brayers, paper, and a printing press or hand roller. Linoleum blocks come in various sizes and thicknesses, allowing artists to choose the best option for their design. Carving tools, such as gouges and knives, are used to carve the design into the linoleum block. Ink is applied to the block using a brayer, and the block is then pressed onto paper to create the print.

Techniques for Linocut

There are several techniques that artists can use to create unique and interesting linocut prints. One common technique is to carve away the areas of the linoleum block that will not be printed, leaving the raised areas to pick up the ink. This creates a relief print, where the design is raised above the surface of the block. Artists can also use multiple blocks to create a multi-color print, by carving a separate block for each color in the design. Another technique is to create a reduction print, where the same block is carved away and printed multiple times to create layers of color.

Printing Process for Linocut

The printing process for linocut involves several steps to ensure a successful print. First, the linoleum block is carved with the desired design using carving tools. Once the design is complete, ink is applied to the block using a brayer, making sure to evenly coat the surface. The inked block is then pressed onto paper using a printing press or hand roller, transferring the design onto the paper. This process can be repeated multiple times to create multiple copies of the print.

Examples of Linocut Artists

There are many talented artists who have embraced linocut as a medium for their work. One notable artist is Paul Catherall, known for his bold and graphic linocut prints of iconic London landmarks. Another artist, Angie Lewin, creates intricate linocut prints inspired by the natural world, featuring detailed botanical and landscape designs. Other artists, such as Tom Hammick and Clare Curtis, use linocut to create abstract and experimental prints that push the boundaries of the medium.

In conclusion, linocut is a versatile and accessible printmaking technique that allows artists to create unique and intricate prints. With a rich history and a wide range of techniques to explore, linocut continues to be a popular choice for artists looking to create stunning prints and illustrations. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced printmaker, linocut offers endless possibilities for creative expression.