World Printmakers’ Print Workshop Central

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Seacourt Proposes a Symposium to Define Fine-Art Printmaking

with 4 comments

Robert Peters, Director of Seacourt Print Workshop
Asks Print Workshop Central to “Circulate This”

Peters says:

This issue seems to have sparked of some interesting discussion. Following on from our safer printmaking symposium held in September I have been planning to seek funding to host a symposium exploring more broadly how fine art printmaking is defined, for example do buyers know when they are buying an original work of art conceived to be executed through a printmaking process?

I don’t see the debate being about the supremacy of either the technique or the image. Nor do I have an issue with digital processes. Personally I see  giclee reproductions  as illustrations of artwork whilst an original limited edition print is an art form in itself even if that final form is as a giclee.

The areas I am proposing to explore include:

  • An international code of practice for studios
  • Agreed definitions of what constitutes an original print edition and sets it apart from editioned reproductions
  • A print vernacular that is agreed and easily understood by the maker, seller and buyer

I don’t see setting standards as an attempt to limit artistic vision, experimentation or engagement with new technologies but rather providing a clear relationship between process and product so that we all know when we are being asked to pay £500.00 for number 5 of 1000 illustrations of a painting with the artists signature printed on the bottom right corner. If we still want to buy it that is our prerogative, just so long as we know.

If you have any suggestions as to who could meaningfully contribute to this debate as a maker, seller or buyer I’m keen to contact anyone interested in being speakers. I’m thinking spring 2010 for the event.

Let me know your thoughts.

Best regards

Robert Peters, Director
Seacourt Print Workshop
Unit 33, Dunlop Industrial Units
8 Balloo Drive
Bangor BT19 7QY
Northern Ireland
Tel: 028 9146 0595

4 Responses

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  1. Re.: Symposium to Define Fine-Art Printmaking – proposed by Seacourt

    Our grafisk vaerksted\NAESTVED – Print Studio for Artists would be interested in the proposed Seacourt Symposium to Define Fine-Art Printmaking.

    We are interested to explore the possibility for an international code of practice for studios concerning definitions of what constitute an original fine-art print – also because we in different languages use different words for fine-art prints (in Denmark: grafik) and you sometimes get into problems with translations.

    In Denmark we are now getting galleries concentrating on limited edition art photos and this raises the problem how you define and explain to people the difference between an art photo print and a fine-art print (which we in Denmark call a grafisk tryk).

    Taking a photo with a digital photo camera and printing it on high quality photo paper or fine art paper (like Epson or Somerset Velvet Fine Art Paper) does to me not make the photo a fine-art print – it is still a photo even if it is “artistic” and would /could sell as a piece of photo art.

    I find it OK as an artist (and I do it myself) to take a “starting point” in/with a photo but there must be some more done to constitute a fine-art print.

    In the Print Studio interview to Print Workshop Central ( ) I referred to the animosity you often meet, especially among American fine-print galleries, curators of fine-print exhibition or other fine-print events like most organizers of Print Exchange events – an animosity against digital prints. In almost all cases they won’t accept digital prints. I feel I don’t meet the animosity to the same degree in Europe. It concerns of course also the question: What is a fine-art print? When is a print an original, genuine fine-print – a real, original work of art – also when the print is made with and printed through digital processes?

    I feel that these two problems: Photo-art prints versus fine-art prints and fine-art prints based on digital processes also deserve to be raised and discussed and agreed upon.

    Torben Soeborg
    International coordinator
    grafisk vaerksted \ NAESTVED – Print Studio for Artists

    Torben Soeborg

    December 20, 2008 at 10:01 pm

  2. What’s the latest news on your “definition of printmaking” symposium, Robert? Does it look as if it’s going to happen? I think a lot of people would be interesting in attending.

    Best regards,


    Mike Booth

    April 14, 2009 at 12:02 pm

  3. Hi every one,
    I took part in the last mini square print exhibition in Naestved. A big bravo to the organisers! It was amazing!But I arived so late…
    For the definition of prints and the “traditional” numbering of editions I personnally refer to the “code of ethics for original printmaking” published by the Conseil Québecois de l’estampe. A lot of worshops refers also to this book. You can order it at ARPRIM is a Montreal based center who give a lot of informations.

    In my opinion, reproduction, even signed by the artist stays a reproduction. An art work produce with digital tools is an art work. But I think most artists will agree that a Photoshop filter doesn’t make an interesting piece of art by itself. The same is true with all other art techniques.

    The problem with digital prints might be with lightfastness of some inks, and some buyers should be more avare of pigment versus dye based inks.

    For the “definition of printmaking”, as a visual artist mostly working with printmaking and painting, I am getting a little bored with attemps at defining printmaking. The discussions are often turning around techniques and not often enough around art as a content and discourse. An interesting text about it from Luis Camnitzer is to be found on the web site of Philagrafika ( The title is “Printmaking, a colony of the arts”. A must-read for every artist.

    Hoping my comment may be useful.
    Happy printmaking!
    Valerie from Montreal, Canada

    Valerie Desmarais

    May 16, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    • We recieved some funding to run our event details below, please circulate as widely as possible.
      Thanks Robert

      Seacourt Print Workshop Symposium
      Unique Reproduction – Definitions of Original Printmaking in a Digital Age
      The University of Ulster Belfast Campus
      17th June 2010, 10.00am – 4.00pm

      The development of inkjet printers with light fast inks has made reproducing artists’ images more ‘democratic’ – no advanced technical skill is required to transfer ink onto paper. These reproductions can be marketed as limited edition prints and in the process garner kudos through association with the established traditions of fine-art printmaking. This seems to get some printmakers hot under the collar. This event will explore issues around editioning and reproducing multiples from the perspective of the artist, editioning studio and collector. What are the inherent qualities of the processes used in traditional printmaking that make it a meaningful activity? Why engage in traditional printmaking, it can’t be about reproduction – so what is it about? Are the inherent limitations of materials used and their influence in creating the image important? Should there be an international quality standard and agreed definition of what constitutes an editioned original?

      Keynote Speaker – Marjorie Devon, Director of the Tamarind Institute, New Mexico
      Invited Speaker – Kelly Troester, Worldwide Co-Director of Modern and Contemporary Editions, Phillips de Pury NYC
      Joining these two speakers for a round-table discussion will be:
      Stephen Hoskins, Hewlett Packard Professor of Fine Print and Director of the Centre for Fine Print Research at the University of the West of England
      John McKechnie, Director of Glasgow Print Studio
      Jenny Roland, Managing Director of the Curwen Studio
      The discussion will be chaired by Robert Peters, Director of Seacourt Print Workshop

      This event is free to the public.
      Booking advised through Seacourt Print Workshop
      Contact: Tel: +44 (0) 28 91460595

      Organised in partnership with the Ulster Festival of Art and Design.
      Lottery Funded through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and supported through funding from North Down Borough Council.

      Robert Peters

      March 15, 2010 at 5:11 pm

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