Occasionally artists need to have their artwork reproduced. The problem is that most artists do not understand what is involved in the four-color prepress and printing processes and, because of this, do not know how to communicate with printers. Artists often do not realize it is very difficult to make an exact copy of their artwork when it is reproduced by four-color offset lithography and are disappointed with the final printed product. The objective of this thesis project is to educate artists about four-color printing so they can communicate more effectively with printers. A prototype for a booklet entitled An Artist's Guide to Four-Color Printing was created as a means toward achieving this goal. The existing literature on this subject includes two books written specifically for artists and a book specifically about reproducing artwork. All of these books are currently out of print. The author found five books written for graphic designers and print buyers (effectively an audience with little or no understanding of pre-press and printing processes) about four-color printing that an artist would probably be able to understand, but since they are not written specifically for artists, it is doubtful they would ever locate these books. Three books are written for the trade on this subject in language a person with little or no understanding of pre-press and printing processes could understand. Again it is questionable that an artist would find these works. Both books written for graphic designers and those written for trades people contain small sections about reproducing original artwork. No magazine articles were found on this subject in the leading magazines written for artists. The author theorized that artists would be more likely to read information about four-color printing if it was presented in a visual, concise manner and if it was written specifically for artists. The information for the guide was gathered primarily from two sources. The author felt she would understand the processes involved in four-color printing if she physically went through the process step-by-step. This was accomplished in a case study reproducing five pieces by Rochester artist David Lang. These pieces are hand colored black and white photographs. The case study was documented by the author's husband, Richard Miller, a professional photographer. Richard's photographs, accompanied by lengthy captions, comprise the first section of the booklet, showing the reader the pre-press and printing processes step-by-step. The second section in the booklet is entitled Specific Notes About the Reproduction of Artwork. The information for this section was gathered from seven professionals in printing and three artists who have had their artwork reproduced. The glossary was written from the author's knowledge about the subject except where footnoted. The author designed the booklet and produced it using knowledge about typography and desktop publishing learned at Rochester Institute of Technology. The booklet was reviewed by seven artists to determine whether such a booklet would indeed help them to understand what is involved in four-color printing. A questionnaire was used as a means of collecting responses to the booklet. These responses were tallied and recorded. The response to the booklet was favorable. All of the artists replied that they would be able to communicate with printers more effectively as a result of reading the booklet.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Color printing--Technique; Offset printing--Technique; Color printing--Handbooks, manuals, etc.--Authorship; Offset printing--Handbooks, manuals, etc.--Authorship
Department, Program, or Center
School of Print Media (CIAS)
Miller, Whitney, "An Artist's guide to four-color printing: A Prototype of a guide to educate artists about four-color offset printing" (1995). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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