Producing Digital Prints

Since 2017, I have made a number of fine art digital prints, and so I thought I would provide further information about this strand of my work.

I made my first fine art prints more than forty years ago when I attended Camberwell Art School — these were lithographs.

Aquarium London Zoo
1981. Lithograph

Later, as my painting changed from figuration to painterly abstraction, I began making screen-prints. At the time, the intensity of the colours and the mark-making seemed to lend themselves more readily to the kind of art I was hoping to make.

Untitled Screenprint 1983

When I left Camberwell I concentrated my efforts on painting and drawing as well as making collages. However I often incorporated printing techniques into my work. This usually took the form of mono-printing, but I also experimented with transfer prints as I tried to introduce newspaper photos and typography into a painted image. Yet I was unable to successfully master this technique and it was not until many years later that I finally made progress. That was in 2013, when the nature of my work changed again, this time returning to figuration.

I began by making digital images, manipulating my own photographs with Photoshop and then transfer-printing these onto primed MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard), as well as paper, before applying paint. A good example of this can be found here. I should add that during this process of painting I always took photos of the work, and I often used these photos to develop more digital images. I no longer do this, choosing to paint and draw using a digital pen.

Breakfast in Marrakech, 2017 print
Breakfast in Marrakech, 2017, 1/1, 50.8 cm x 76.2 cm, Giclée on Hahnemühle German Etching Paper

Ultimately the process comes down to painting with pixels, those small elements of light and colour, often working at a magnification that allows editing at an individual pixel level. Prints will be proofed and then re-edited.

My prints are either produced as Giclée or C-Type photographic, and you can see a selection here.

Increasingly, I have seen digital art as my medium of choice. Partly this is due to physical restrictions, particularly the lack of storage for paintings. However, I enjoy the immediacy of digital print-making, together with the ability to quickly make radical changes.

For the past few months I have concentrated on making digital prints in a series based on Don Quixote, such as this one, ‘In the Mind of Don Quixote’.

A Giclée print by John McSweeney
Giclée print, 76.2 cm x 76.2 cm paper size, 55 cm x 55 cm image size. Hahnemühle etching paper