A monotype begins with a design created on a smooth printing surface. This printing surface, or plate, is usually Plexiglas, metal or glass. The image is made using additive or subtractive methods of oil or water-based paint or ink directly on the plate or on stencils and textural elements. No lines are incised into the printing plate as found in etched, linoleum or woodblock prints, so consequently no second exact image is possible.

Once the plate is inked, damp printmaking paper is placed on top of it and it then undergoes the pressure of an etching press or manual pressure, transferring the image from plate to paper. The paper is then pulled away from the printing surface, revealing a one-of-a-kind image: The unique print. No other identical image is possible.

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