Printmakers are involved in the design and creation of prints, using specialist techniques and tools to transfer images from a mould to a variety of surfaces including cloth, paper and glass. Popular techniques include etching, block-printing, woodcuts, silk-screening, lithography and computer-generated designs and graphics.
Printmakers usually work as freelancers, and often work on various projects simultaneously in order to earn a reasonable income. These guys may produce prints for display events, design companies, clothing manufacturers or on a commissioned basis for other artists.
If you enter this profession, you’ll be creating prints in accordance with client requirements and technical specifications and producing multiple copies for a variety of surfaces.
Printmakers are also commissioned to create brochures, posters, display signs and other promotional materials by advertising, marketing and events management companies. Moreover, some printmakers may supplement their earnings by teaching budding printmakers, passing on their knowledge and leading training workshops.
Finally, if you’re working as a freelancer, you will need to carry out financial administration tasks and spend time building up a network of clients and contacts.
Salary & benefits
Since printmakers are usually self-employed, it’s hard to define an average salary range for these professionals.
However, on average, printmakers engaged in print design and creation may earn around £15,000 to £20,000 a year, while printmakers employed in a teaching capacity may earn between £17,000 and £20,000 per annum.
A printmaker’s typical working hours range between 35 and 45 hours, but this profession often involves extra evening and weekend work.
Since most printmakers undertake a range of different tasks, i.e. producing commissioned work, teaching, giving practical demonstrations and exhibiting work at events or in galleries, you may be required to travel around from time to time.
However, your work activities will generally be carried out on client premises or in private studios and shared workshop spaces.
Practical skills and hands-on experience are more relevant than academic qualifications. However, a degree or another approved qualification in fine art, graphic design or textiles may help you to develop new skills and techniques.
Internships or apprenticeship programmes are also useful for building a design portfolio and developing your reputation.
Training & progression
Training and development is mainly self-initiated, but you can pursue various avenues to develop your skills and expertise. For instance, you could take postgraduate courses, short skills development classes or work as an apprentice to an experienced printmaker.
Career progression is primarily driven by your work rate, your network of clients and your reputation within the industry.
As you gain more and more experience, you may eventually start your own printmaking studio and employ junior printmakers to help you produce commissioned pieces and meet client deadlines more efficiently.