Woodblock Printing

With Matt we looked at the traditional means of printing known as woodblock. Woodblock printing originated in China and was used throughout the 6th to 9th centuries by Buddhists to spread the teaching of Buddha. This kind of print was used to create calligraphy and patterns which were then soaked in ink or dye and pressed onto fabric or paper material. This ensured a precise pattern every time rather than copying by eye which, as we all know, two designs are never quite the same.

We were given quotes from famous graphic designers which we had to choose from a bowl. On reflection this was probably the best idea as the amount of faffing one can do over a quote is remarkable. I choose the quote “Of course design is about problem solving, but I cannot resist adding something personal” said by Wim Crouwel during an interview with Eye Magazine in 2007. Now, during the time of the woodblock printing I had broken my foot so I was unable to stand up meaning I had to completely press to letters down by hand whilst sitting which, between you and I, wasn’t the easiest task. Due to this, the alignment of the text unfortunately slopes to the left progressively. Looking back, I should’ve placed down some masking tape so I had a line to follow. But looking back, I would’ve done a lot of things differently so it’s best to reflect on the end result I have rather than the one I would have liked to have.

Here are my outcomes:


This is my final quote poster. I like the rustic, almost used look that the ink left. Some would say it’s unrefined where I think it adds character. As I took a picture of the final design rather than scanning it in, you cannot tell that the text leans to the left. Overall, I am really happy with it and I think the use of a backwards d, question mark and 9 really adds something personal to the piece, reflecting on what Wim Crouwel was saying.


This page was where I repeatedly pressed my words so when I pressed them on my poster, they would have a tired look rather than being pure black. I like the textures on this scrap piece, as well as the overlapping of some words.

One overly annoying aspect about this process was the ink and it’s ability to stain everything it touched, almost like Donald Trump. The ink gets everywhere and it’s extremely difficult to clean, especially on the woodblocks themselves. The whole process would have taken me around 40 minutes where as the cleaning upped the anti and the process instead took 2 hours. Tedious but well worth the outcome.


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