Practice is a broad term encompassing the conditions that enable an art practice and the actual conceptual and media practice of the artist. The best way to integrate this understanding is through your case studies. When studying the work or body of work (oeuvre) of an artist, take the time to familiarize yourself with the artists material practice and the conditions under which the work is made. These include the prevailing social, economic and personal circumstances of the artist.

Don’t forget that artists are first and foremost; people whose  domestic needs are similar to most other people i.e., ( bills / rent to pay, day to day expenses to meet, food, accommodation, education, health etc), and these needs can have a substantial impact; not only  on determining how an artist organizes their practice, but also on the choices made both conceptually and materially.

The financial viability of an artist will impact on the quality and quantity of material the artist can afford and hence use, the type and size of studio space they can afford and also the amount of time they can commit to their work.

Outside these considerations are the material practices relevant to the form of the work. For example, a painter will have  material considerations, sensibilities and modes of practice that are different to a print-maker, sculptor, video artist or a photographer. What is important here is that you familiarize yourself with the material demands of the various forms of art practice and bear in mind that practitioners of each form will have aesthetic considerations to pay attention to or ignore as the case may be. These will be outlined separately below.



Often requires familiarization with the dominant types e.g., intaglio and relief. However processes like screen print, lithography, offset etc do not fall within these broad categories.

Within these are the varying forms, etching (including sub group processes, mezzo-tint, aquatint, dry point, sugar lift, open bite, photo etching etc.),  lithography, woodblock, lino-block, screen-print, photogravure, serigraph etc.

Because of the technical demands of these processes, most print makers will have had some formal training

Many artists who are not print-makers will, if they wish to produce works in this media, often make use of the services of a printer / print-maker to realize their ideas in print .e.g., Aurthur Boyd (Collographs) / Tony and Indra Deigan.(Printers/Printmakers)

Printmakers and printers have to be familiar with a wide range of paper characteristics and behaviours across both intaglio, relief and offset processes. Along with this they also need to understand and know how to work with, a wide range of ink types and how various ink and paper combinations perform.

to be continued…


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