Printmakers’ Secrets || Anthony Dyson

My first thought on seeing the title of this really rather beautiful volume was, “aha!” in anticipation of a eureka moment. Clearly, this was what the editor expected, because the front flap blurb is devoted to an explanation of “the book’s apparently rather whimsical title”. And suddenly, my hackles are up; if you have to explain a title, isn’t it the wrong title?

In spite of what you might be expecting, this is not a detailed manual of clever or arcane techniques that you normally only get told about if you know the correct handshake. Rather, it’s a look at the work of 67 contemporary printmakers with a short essay by each about how they work. A more accurately descriptive title would have been “Contemporary Printmakers at Work”, though that, somehow, just sounds dull. But you get the idea.

As what it is, it’s a fascinating and beautiful book and one that any printmaker or buyer of prints is going to want to have on their shelves. It’s not cheap, but Black’s are not afraid to ask the going price for quality and every illustration is perfect.

And the title? Well apparently, “it was chosen because it can hardly be the case that any two artists making prints, even if working in the same technical specialism, will achieve their ends in precisely the same way”. You don’t say. Better ignore Chris Orr’s advice then, “I often startle students by telling them my golden rule: you should never remember anything you learn in a print workshop”. (To be fair, his point is that you should be constantly learning and reinventing).

Anyway, now that we know what the book is, we can say that it’s really very good, but aren’t you glad you’ve got me to decode the runes for you?

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