Are you interested in getting started with printmaking? Or maybe you have an artist in your life who is? The following is a collection of recommendations intended entirely for beginners!
In the beginning, I think it's important to maximize experience while minimizing investment, so the goal here is to get you printing quickly and with an eye on being very wallet-friendly (particularly the first section). Once you've decided you enjoy it and want to continue, then spending a little more money to buy higher quality tools makes sense. If you're looking for those kinds of recommendations, I'll share that in another post or you can visit my Resources pages to get more information.
The Quick, Cheap, & Easy Start to Printmaking
The first and easiest option is to buy a ready-made kit and purchase a block (or a few).
The Speedball Block Printing Starter Kit includes a handle with interchangeable gouges, black ink, a brayer, and a simple instruction booklet for just over $17. Add in the 5"x7" linoleum block, and you can get started at just around $21! You can buy blank cards to print on or a variety of papers, depending on your goals.
Easy, am I right?
À la Carte Option for a Starter Printing Kit
If you're interested in trying out different things and buying items separately to create your own kit, you have some options.
I tend to prefer black prints myself, and there's certainly black ink available by itself, but I also think it could be fun to have a variety, especially when getting started.
A 4" brayer is a great starting size, because it's small enough to work with small blocks and big enough to cover the larger ones without too much effort.
These three above all make great starter options: the tan linoleum, "pink stuff" rubber, and soft Moo Carve. You can find many other options from art specialty stores, like Blick, and each will have its own pros and cons. Battleship Grey Linoleum is likely the cheapest you'll find, but it also tends to be a little difficult for many beginners (especially kids), which is something to keep in mind.
Your paper choice really depends on what you want to do with your printmaking. You can, of course, just buy a pad of printmaking paper. But you can also experiment with a variety of different types of papers, playing with color and texture. Don't feel like you have to stick with JUST the paper labeled Printmaking! You can also buy blank cards and make stationery or rolls of kraft paper to make wrapping paper, among so many other options. printmaking really lends itself well to a variety of creations.
Packaging the Gift for Your Printmaker
Given the season, you might very well be buying this as a gift for your budding printmaker, so I want to include a note about presentation! Whether you chose to go simple or buy several items, you can always put it in a holiday box or bag and be done. That said, I think it can be a lot of fun to include a nice wooden box to keep art supplies. Many craft stores sell them, and you can either decorate it or leave it plain. You can arrange everything inside, maybe toss in something decorative or a card, and it really makes a great gift.
But another option that I think lends some fun is to repurpose an old wooden cigar box. While I've never smoked a single cigar myself, I absolutely adore the decorative touches on cigar boxes, and some are large enough to house the above supplies. You can ring your local tobacco shop and ask if they sell the discarded boxes. I bought a handful when I was living in DC, paying $1 or $2 for each.
There are, of course, thousands of other options. Other brands, other types of tools, many different materials. I stuck with Speedball products because that's how I started out, and I think they make solid products, especially for someone who isn't sure they want to make a large financial investment.
To be clear, this post is in NO way sponsored and all opinions are my own. I received nothing for free or a discount. I started printmaking by using Speedball products, so that's my natural recommendation. That said, we are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate program through Amazon.com.