What is a monotype?
Unlike other types of fine art prints, there is nothing on the monotype plate to hold an image for multiple impressions. Instead, ink is applied to the plate in a more painterly fashion, using brushes, rollers or other tools. Once the print is “pulled,” that is, run through the press to transfer the image to paper, no more duplicates can be made. The image is unique. Sometimes, a “ghost” print will be made by pulling another print from the remaining ink on the plate, but that too is a unique image.
A smooth zinc plate (copper and Plexiglas can also be used) is covered with ink, using a brayer. Highlights are wiped away with a rag. Marks are made with various tools, including rags, brushes and Q-Tips.
Once the image has been drawn and the plate is ready to be printed., a damp sheet of paper is placed on top of the plate on the press bed, covered with felt blankets, then run through the press.
The resulting print is a mirror image. Because there are no etched lines on the plate to hold the ink for repeated impressions, each image is unique. A second print, called a “ghost,” can be pulled from the remaining ink on the plate, but this, too, is a unique impression.