art guide

Printmaking Techniques - Collography

Collography, derived from the Greek word collo, meaning glue, and graph, meaning the activity of drawing, was invented and popularized in the 1930s by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Juan Gris and the master printmaker Stanley William Hayter.

It is a printmaking process in which a variety of (usually found) materials are arranged as a collage onto a firm matrix like cardboard or wood. Given that the materials required to carry out this process are extremely basic and uncomplicated, collographs were often referred to as 'poor person's etchings'.

In creating collographs, objects such as sandpaper, string, leaves and wrappers are layered on the matrix to create a textured surface of low relief. The process combines the inking methods of both relief and intaglio: the deep areas are inked as an intaglio plate would be, while the higher areas are inked using a roller, as a relief plate would be.

Once the colour has been applied to the surface of the matrix, it is printed onto paper or another substrate by pressing the two together. This can be accomplished using something as simple as a rolling pin, or with a brayer or press. The print obtained is known as a collograph.

Artists like A. Balasubramaniam and Rumki Das have often used this technique, sometimes in combination with other printmaking processes, as a means to articulate their artistic idioms.