Print making using the craft technique of lithography. Note: This entry refers to the craft practice of lithography as distinct from fine art (see ‘Other information’ below).
|Historic area of significance|
|Area currently practised||UK|
|Origin in the UK||19th Century|
|Current no. of professionals (main income)||11-20
(Most lithographers will practise as part of a portfolio of print making techniques)
|Current no. of professionals (sideline to main income)
||Approximately 12 professional print workshops|
|Current no. of trainees||See ‘Other information’|
|Current total no. serious amateur makers
||See ‘Other information’|
|Current total no. of leisure makers
Stone lithography is a printing process that allows an artist to work using traditional techniques, and to create prints that rival a painting in terms of detail, mood, variation etc. It reached its height of popularity during the 1800s, but it is still practised today by artists and lithography workshops.
In modern lithography, the image is made of a polymer coating applied to a flexible plastic or metal plate.
Lithography is a printing process that uses a flat stone on which the image areas is created using a greasy substance that the ink will adhere to, while the non-image areas remain ink-repellent.
Invented around 1798 in Germany, stone lithography exploits the water repelling properties of grease. An image is drawn on a smooth, level limestone plate using oil-based lithographic drawing materials that are available in both solid and liquid forms. When the drawing is complete, a chemical process is used to bond the hydrophobic image to the stone and allow it to be inked for printing.
During printing, the stone is kept continuously wet with water as the image is inked and the stone and paper are run through a press that applies uniform pressure to transfer the ink onto the paper.
Issues affecting the viability of the craft
Availability of raw materials: This is a key risk factor for the craft. There are no longer any lithographic stones being excavated and so all crafts people rely on old stones that are reused.
Training issues: Whilst training is being effectively disseminated by master printmakers in the UK, the highest level of training is primarily provided by the Tamarind Institute in New Mexico.
- Skills issues: Whilst there are many University and Open Access print rooms in the UK, a limited number of them have lithography equipment and/ or a technical instructor who is knowledgeable about the processes in lithography. It is not uncommon to have one technician only in these printmaking spaces, and most technicians specialise in one process. Without in depth technical support, the student is often left with more questions than answers. Lithography is a process that whilst simple in principle, is very technically complex, and if the student doesn’t have access to this support then abandons litho altogether and steps into another print process that the technician can assist them with.
Royal Society of Painter Printmakers
V&A prints and drawing room
Ashmolean Print Collection
British Museum Print Collection
Craftspeople currently known
Printers listed in this category will be those who provide expertise and work collaboratively with artists to produce lithographs.
- Stanley Jones MBE – considered a lithography ‘National Treasure’ who acts as an adviser and figurehead for the subject
- Paul Croft
- Lee Turner
- Simon Burder
- Catherine Ade
- Stephanie Turnbull
- Thomas Cert – is a trained Tamarind Master Printer, currently working as a full time Printmaking Technician at Kingston University instructing students in all forms of print
- Michael Gill
- Laura Bianchi
- Serena Smith
- Curwen Print Study Centre
- Jemma Gunning
- Alastair Clark, Edinburgh Printmakers
- Rachel Gracey
- Sue Baker
- Kenton and Serena Smith
- Robin Smart – Red Breast Editions
- SooMin Leong – teaches stone lithography at Morley College and Slaughterhaus Print Studio
- Scarlett Rebecca – teaches stone lithography at Draw Brighton and her studio in Wales.
- Veronica Calarco – Stiwdio Maelor, North Wales. Runs a residency programme for artists, including providing a stone lithography studio and courses
- Sharon Lee – Royal College of Art specialist lithography technician, mainly supporting students with stone and plate lithography. Trained at Tamarind Institute.
- Paul Sharrock – Designermakers21
- David Borrington – Dekkle Printmaking Studios, Baldock, has stone lithography facilities.
- Ian Wilkinson – Goldmark Atelier, Uppingham, has stone lithography facilities.
There are many UK artists and printmakers using lithography in their work at a highly skilled level. However, the craft of lithography as practised by highly trained master printers is at risk. Most of these printmakers will have been trained at the Tamarind Institute in the US.