The ancient art of engraving and how to get involved – SCAD District


Written by Sevyn Michaela-Rose. Photo courtesy of Sevyn Michaela-Rose

“It’s kind of like the 17th century meets the 21st century,” said Professor Curtis Bartone, one of two professors of printmaking at SCAD. He wasn’t lying because when I walked into the print shop in Alexander Hall, I was greeted by students carrying large slabs of stone from the quarries in Germany, beautiful prints on Japanese paper pinned to the walls, heavy machinery, metal sinks and huge printing presses. The print shop is really where the modern meets the old.

Etching is the process of transferring images from a matrix (a model such as wood, glass, or metal) to another surface, usually paper or fabric. Some of the techniques include etching, engraving, lithography and screen printing, all of which have been around for centuries. When I asked Professor Bartone what drove him to teach these ancient processes, he replied, “It’s something everyone is afraid of, and seeing people realize they can do it is rewarding.” He glanced at the students working on their lithograph prints and smiled, “It’s magic. You never know what you are going to get.

Courtesy of Sevyn Michaela-Rose

Many students participate in the engraving, but I wanted to know the details. What type of students typically get involved? Why? “Sometimes students do it because they’re in graphic design and everything they do happens in front of a computer,” Professor Bartone said. “Sometimes they just want to get their hands dirty, do something more mechanical. We also receive many photographers who complete their entire senior portfolio in an alternative process such as photo lithography. Our program is a minor program, so we get all types of major programs.

But you can still take the engraving without declaring it as a minor. Professor Bartone said: ‘You can go through any process you want. They are all preliminary. For example, if you wanted to take a course in engraving without committing to the whole minor program, you can! And SCAD makes it easy for students to get involved. “The Printmaking for Non-Major course is a good place to start,” Professor Bartone said. This course is perfect for beginners as it counts as an elective and gives students an insight into what engraving is all about.

woman working in a printmaking studio
Courtesy of Sevyn Michaela-Rose

So if you’re a SCAD student looking for a new artistic medium or a way to dig into something less digital, printmaking might be the answer to your call. For more information on the miner program, click here. Or you can check out @scadprintmakers studio


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