Help me choose!
June 16, 2008 7:22 PM   Subscribe

Opportunity to take a printmaking class - should I take relief or intaglio?

A local art instructor is offering six-week courses in intaglio and relief printing. Both look really interesting, but I can only afford one right now. He's got excellent descriptions on the website of what the techniques are, and of course I can Google for more info. I just wondered what might be the pros/cons of studying either technique.


- I did some relief printing in college, and really enjoyed it. Never tried intaglio.

- I'd also like some comparison of the learning curve of each style, and if possible, costs of supplies and equipment.

- I like constructivism, Neue Sachlichkeit, old typefaces, etc...
posted by Liosliath to Media & Arts (5 answers total)
Since you can only afford one for right now, I think you'd get more useful mileage out of the relief class, especially since you already have some experience with it. You can always take the intaglio class the next time it's offered. Either way, it sounds like fun!
posted by amyms at 7:31 PM on June 16, 2008

The intaglio does have the advantage that you can invite people back to your place to see your etchings. Aquatint, which can involve sifting resin onto the copper plate, then fixing it with heat before etching with acid, can give some really old-school shading effects that might interest you.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:46 PM on June 16, 2008

I'm a huge huge fan of intaglio printing. It's really fun to make the plates, it's really fun to ink 'em up, and it's really fun to run 'em through the press. You can totally change the look of the prints by foolin' around with how much ink you use, how you wipe it off, how you prepare your paper, blah blah blah. Man, if I won the lottery and could just fool around all day, I'd prolly etch a lot.

So my vote goes for intaglio. Especially since you've already done some relief. Although I was never a huge fan of relief printing anyway.

I don't think it's necessarily harder to learn. Everything takes practice, right? It's a pretty subtle process, so little changes might make a big difference in the end, but it's pretty hard to do something completely wrong. It's great for experimenting.

It's probably gonna cost a bit more. Copper's pretty expensive. Etching presses are expensive. There are a bunch of tools and materials you probably won't have to buy right away, but you might want later down the line.

I am not a printmaker. I too took a couple classes in college, but have only done a little with it since.
posted by Plug Dub In at 10:16 PM on June 16, 2008

I too am going to have to suggest studying intaglio. I've studied both (presently only producing relief prints right now due to money restrictions and facilities) and enjoyed intaglio a good deal more. Like StickyCarpet and Plug Dub In mentioned, there are many more interesting textures and shading effects that can be attained though intaglio. Hard ground, soft ground, aquatinting, using fabrics and found objects to create impressions, painting with block-out - all produce really cool results.

The only down side to intaglio is that is does require facilities and (somewhat) dangerous materials (acid). It also costs a bit more. So if you are worried about price, I guess relief is for you. Otherwise, I would say that intaglio is far more rewarding - especially if you are into old typefaces and whatnot.
posted by RobertFrost at 12:35 AM on June 17, 2008

My vote also goes to intaglio -- I do both, but intaglio far less frequently (er, actually never, like RobertFrost) now that I don't have access to the equipment. If you're interested in printmaking to begin with, it's worth it to find out if you like intaglio, and to get proper instruction (and note that it doesn't have to be toxic -- I was taught with a non-toxic set-up). You'll either love it or hate it, in my experience, but if you love it you'll be thrilled to have access to a complete studio while you're in the class, and possibly motivated to find a co-op or other space with the necessary equipment in the future.
posted by obliquicity at 5:25 AM on June 17, 2008

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