BLOCK PRINTING - Linocut Prints

Linocut printmaking, a relatively modern technique, emerged in the early 20th century as a more accessible alternative to woodcuts. It gained prominence through the work of German expressionist artists like Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, who used linoleum's soft and easy-to-carve properties to break away from traditional artistic conventions. Linocuts quickly gained popularity due to the ease of working with linoleum, making it attractive to artists without access to professional printmaking studios.

The influence of linocuts spread to various art movements, including Expressionism, Cubism, and Futurism. These prints often featured bold, angular lines and simplified forms, reflecting the avant-garde aesthetic of the time. Renowned artists like Pablo Picasso, Fernand Léger, and M.C. Escher also experimented with linocuts, each bringing their unique style and approach to the medium, resulting in a wide range of artistic expressions through linocuts.

Linocuts found practical applications in commercial art, including book illustrations, magazine graphics, and posters, further popularizing the technique. Over the years, linocut printmaking has seen periodic revivals in popularity, and it remains a favored medium among contemporary artists and printmakers due to its versatility and graphic quality. Its enduring popularity is a testament to how artists have continually adapted and experimented with printmaking techniques to suit their creative needs and express their unique artistic visions. Today, it continues to be a beloved and accessible method for creating both fine art and commercial graphics.

Pablo Picasso, Portrait of a Woman with a Hat, 1962, Bloch 1072, Linocut (S)

Linocut is a type of relief printmaking where the image is carved into a sheet of linoleum. It's a versatile and accessible technique for creating graphic and bold prints. Here are the key steps involved in creating linocut prints:

Linocut prints often have a bold, graphic quality due to the contrast between the inked and uninked areas. Artists can use different linoleum carving tools to create varying line thicknesses and textures, and they can experiment with different inks and paper types to achieve different effects.

Linocut is a popular printmaking technique among artists and printmakers, and it has been used in various forms for many years to create illustrations, posters, and fine art prints. It offers a way to produce multiple copies of an image while still maintaining the artist's handcrafted touch.

The Set Up



A sheet of linoleum is the surface on which the image is created. Linoleum is typically made from a mixture of cork and linseed oil, mounted on a wooden or plastic block. It has a smooth surface that can be carved to create the relief design for printing.

Carving Tools

Carving tools, often referred to as linoleum cutters, are specialized instruments used to carve the linoleum. They typically have interchangeable cutting tips of various shapes and sizes, allowing artists to create different line thicknesses and details in their designs.


Ink is the medium used to transfer the image from the linoleum block to paper. Printmaking ink is specially formulated for this purpose. It is applied to the raised, uncarved areas of the linoleum using a brayer.

Brayers (Rollers)

Brayers, also known as rollers, are used to apply ink to the linoleum block evenly. They have a rubber or soft material surface that can hold and spread ink across the block's surface, ensuring that the carved areas remain ink-free.


Various types of printmaking paper can be used, depending on the artist's preference and the desired effect. The paper is carefully placed over the inked linoleum block, and pressure is applied to transfer the ink onto the paper.

Printing Press or Hand-Printing Tools

The choice of printing method can vary. A printing press is a mechanical device used for consistent and even pressure, making it ideal for producing multiple prints with consistent quality. Alternatively, hand-printing tools, like a wooden spoon or baren, can be used for smaller-scale, manual printing by applying pressure by hand to transfer the image from the block to the paper.

The Process


Inking & Printing

Creating a linocut design requires a balance between planning and artistic experimentation. It's a process that allows for artistic expression and the development of a personal style within the parameters of the medium.