A monotype is one-of-a-kind — a unique piece of artwork. It is the simplest form of printmaking, requiring only pigments, a surface on which to apply them, paper and some form of press.
Monotypes are created by rolling, brushing, daubing or otherwise applying ink to a metal or plexiglass plate, and then “pulling” the impression to paper or another form of canvas by use of a press.
Monotypes are inherently unique because only one or two impressions may be pulled before the ink is completely removed from the plate. And while there may be a second impression, it is quite different from the first since most of the ink will have been lifted from the plate in its first pass through the press. The second impression, called a ghost or cognate, is much lighter or thinner, and is more a suggestion of the first. Each pulled impression may be considered a finished work, or may be further enhanced by the application of additional drawing or color.
The “spontaneity” of the monotype process may be misleading. Discipline, knowledge and artistry are indeed inherent to the process. The time required to make a monotype reflects years of experience and knowledge as both artist and printer.