Lithographs and serigraphs are both types of prints. However, while there are many methods used to create prints, these two techniques are not only different from other types of printing processes, they're also different from one another. Both lithographs and serigraphs offer art collectors the opportunity to collect artworks by their favorite artists at a fraction of the cost.
Many print techniques work on the high/low principle. For example, with woodcut prints, the wood is carved and then ink is applied to the high places left on the carving. The paper is then placed on the woodblock. The portions that stand higher are the ones that mark the paper, much as only certain parts of the bare foot—the lower parts and not the arch—leave a foot print in the sand. However, lithographs and serigraphs work a little differently.
According to Art.com, lithographs are “created using a printing technique based on the principle that oil and water do not mix.” A picture is made on a stone or a piece of aluminum using an oil-based ink or crayon. Water is added to the places that aren't covered with the oily substance. An oily ink is then applied to the whole surface area. It sticks only to the portions that have been covered with the oily chemical. The other portions, which were not created using oily ink or crayon, will repel the ink. Some of American artist Thomas Kinkade's work is reproduced using lithography.
Serigraphs used to be called screen prints, but that term has fallen from use. Because the chemicals in the inks used to eat the through the silk, people use other materials like polyester, nylon or steel mesh to make the screen. According to WiseGeek.com, this process works on the stencil principle. Mesh is pulled taught. Then portions of the mesh are covered, and ink to passed through only the portions that remain uncovered. Many T-shirt manufacturers use this technique to print designs on their shirts. It's also used in fine art printing.
Both methods offer an artist the ability to reproduce multiple copies of an image. However, according to Art.com, a number of different screens must be used to create full-color serigraph prints. Because of this, these artworks are considered to be some of the highest-quality prints made.
Each of these printing techniques offers collectors a chance to collect and own artworks that they could not afford otherwise. However, since many of the pieces are signed and numbered by the artist, their value increases as time goes on, even if they are not original works of art.
Buffy Naillon has worked in the media industry since 1999, contributing to Germany's "Der Spiegel" magazine and various websites. She received a bachelor's degree in German from Boise State University. Naillon also attended New York University and participated in the foreign exchange program at Germany's Saarland University. She is completing her master's degree in educational technology at Boise State.