About Our Artwork
Welcome: June 19, 2013
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The difference between a reproduction and a fine
art lithograph is the difference between a picture and art.
Modern fine art lithography originated in Paris, when the Golden
Age of Poster Art made the works of Toulouse-Lautrec, Mucha,
Steinlen, Cheret and others available to mass audiences. These
artists brought stunning handmade lithographs to cafes, shops
and street corners, and today S2 Art Group and Jack Gallery
exist under the same principle that high-quality fine art can
be for everyone.
Voirin presses, originally used in Paris
ateliers by Lautrec, Mucha and others
S2's fine art lithographs are crafted on the same flatbed
presses used in the legendary ateliers of Paris. To our knowledge,
only seven of these presses remain in the world. We are the
proud owners of five of them. Unlike contemporary computer-generated
reproductions, lithographs crafted on these presses contain
pure color and subtle variations in texture that rival the nuances
PRINTING A LITHOGRAPH
Fine art lithography is a time-consuming process with many involved
steps. While a digitally-generated reproduction can take 15
minutes to print, fine art lithographs can require several months
from the beginning to the end of the process.
STEP 1: CHOOSING THE IMAGE
An image is chosen, a painting or other unique work—or
an entirely new image is created on press. Size is determined
and often a color print is made to the size of the final lithograph.
The press to be used is determined by overall size of the final
lithograph and the number of colors the lithograph will require.
STEP 2: PRELIMINARY SET-UP
The Artist, Chromist, and Master Printer estimate the number
of different colors that will be used to create the final image.
Each part of the process is analyzed, from paper stock to the
number of times the image will pass through the presses. The
paper is handmade, generally in Paris.
Inks in a spectrum of colors, Ink on the mixing
table, Layers of acetate with hand-drawn images
STEP 3: FROSTED ACETATE OVER PLATES AND
The Artist could draw directly onto limestone, aluminum or zinc
plates, but most prefer acetate because it is lightweight, easy
to transport and ideal for hand drawing. Frosted acetates are
chosen, cut to size and aligned for registration.
STEP 4: THE ARTIST BEGINS
The Artist hand draws the image on a series of acetate layers
using pencils, crayon, tusche, and brushes. The materials which
may be used in lithography are limited only by the artist’s
imagination. The original art or concept image is kept in front
of the Artist and Printers at all times so as to achieve the
most accurate rendering.
Artist Matt Rinard working on the presses
STEP 5: TRANSFERRING THE IMAGE FOR PROOFING
Each hand drawn layer of acetate is transferred to an aluminum
plate, etched and prepared for press. Proofing is a preliminary
printing process in which a small quantity of printing paper
is used to develop the lithograph before creating the full edition.
The proofing process allows any changes to be made before printing
the final edition.
STEP 6: PEPARING THE PAPER
The paper to be used for the edition is first run through the
presses without color. This allows the paper to “breathe”
and acclimates it to the presses. The paper is hung and left
to cure for 2 to 3 days, which allows for better registration
and color acceptance.
STEP 7: COLOR MIXING
Colors are mixed by hand. Fine art lithography is not a four
color process. There is no limit to the number of colors that
can be printed on each sheet of paper. We use specially developed
paints—several different types of yellows, blues, reds,
violets, purples, and blacks. The Artist or Chromist chooses
the value, intensity and hue of the color to be printed. The
Master Printer mixes the color to these specifications and adjusts
the “body” of the color for printing. Color swatches
are made on the paper stock used for the lithograph, in the
same light in which they will be printed, ensuring that the
color chosen matches perfectly.
STEP 8: PRESS REGISTRATION
The plate or stone is registered on the press. Color is applied
by hand onto the rollers and the ink fountain is adjusted by
hand to allow the desired amount of ink to be transferred onto
the paper. The rollers are adjusted by hand and a print is “pulled.”
When the image is registered and the ink is the correct consistency,
the Artist and Chromist will examine the print. If they approve
of the color, a Bon à Tirer which means “good to
pull” will be approved and the proofing/editioning process
Each color is printed, one color at a time, on
the antique presses.
STEP 9: EDITIONING/PROOFING
A crew of 3 people print together on the antique presses. A
feeder places each sheet into the registration guide one at
a time, a catcher pulls each sheet off the press one at a time,
and a Master Printer oversees the consistency of color and textures.
Each person goes through a training process, from apprentice
to journeyman to Master Printer. The knowledge and experience
of many generations is carried on to ensure the highest quality
of fine art printing. These antique presses are flat bed presses,
which means that the ink is printed directly onto the paper.
Because of this, the ink can be applied much thicker than any
modern printing press or giclee machine. The process places
more pigment onto the paper, giving the print a greater saturation
of rich color, and ensuring more color permanency. These steps
are repeated for each color, one at a time, until the edition
is complete. Each color dries before another is applied, and
at the completion of all the colors the print dries for several
STEP 10: CURATING
When the prints are dry, they are hand torn one at a time. This
creates a “deckled” edge. Each sheet is examined
for imperfections and destroyed if registration is not perfect.
Then the Atelier chop mark is embossed onto the paper, authenticating
the location of the printing. If the edition is to be signed
by the artist, each lithograph is hand numbered, signed, framed
and sent to art galleries.
STEP 11: DESTROYING THE PLATES
After the edition is signed, the plates are destroyed and sent
for recycling. This ensures that each limited edition lithograph
retains its value, and the plates cannot be used again, making
certain that no additional lithographs can be produced and the
number the artist signed is the total number in the “tirage.”