3. How were the prints made and reproduced?
Initially, this genre of art was done through painting, but in the late 17th century a new medium developed. And that was the medium of woodblock printing. They could be produced in large number and sold at a lower cost to meet the demand of a growing urban, consumer audience. These prints would be drawn first by an artist, then carved into a wooden block. The block would be stamped onto paper, and they could make anywhere from a hundred to thousands of prints. The block would wear out, so they would sell first edition prints at a higher cost. The later edition prints were quite inexpensive, so ordinary urban commoners could buy them and put them on their walls or in greeting cards.
During the latter part of the 18th century, the techniques for full color woodblock printing were developed so that prints would be created through multiple applications of different blocks. The first block printing would produce the black-and-white outline of the image, another block to apply the red, and another, the green. The application of the blocks to paper was not mechanized. It was done by hand by specialists.
The artist, the carver, the printer, and the publisher were all involved in creating the work of art, even though we usually associate the works with an individual artist. In all cases, the artist is the original designer who would draw the image, and the engraver who would carve the image into the block. The printers role was also crucial because, when we get to color prints, the lining up of the different colors in the segments of the picture was quite complex.