Lino printing, also known as linocut, is a versatile and expressive printmaking technique that has captivated artists for over a century. Its journey from a practical craft to a celebrated art form is a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of those who embraced it.

wood carving
linoelum flooring

The Origins of Lino Printing

The history of lino printing can be traced back to the early 20th century. Initially, linoleum was a popular flooring material, composed of linseed oil, pine resin, wood flour, and cork dust on a burlap or canvas backing. Its durability and relatively soft surface made it an excellent medium for carving and printing, thus laying the groundwork for its artistic use.

Linocut printing was initially inspired by traditional woodcut techniques, but it offered a more accessible and affordable alternative. The material’s softness allowed for smoother carving, making it an appealing choice for artists seeking to explore printmaking without the challenges posed by harder wood blocks.

Early Adopters and Evolution


One of the earliest adopters of linocut was the German Expressionist group Die Brücke (The Bridge), founded in 1905. Artists like Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff utilized linocut to create bold, dynamic images that reflected their intense emotional and social concerns. The technique’s capacity for strong contrasts and dramatic effects suited their aesthetic perfectly.







As the 20th century progressed, lino printing continued to evolve. The Mexican muralists, including Diego Rivera, adopted linocut for its ability to produce powerful social and political statements. Rivera’s work, in particular, highlighted the potential of linocut to reach wide audiences with compelling imagery.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Lino print
Diego Rivera Linoprint
lino cutting tools
modern linocutting tools

Modern Advancements and Techniques

With advancements in materials and tools, lino printing has become even more refined and accessible. Contemporary artists benefit from a range of carving tools, from simple knives to specialized gouges, allowing for greater precision and detail. Additionally, the introduction of synthetic linoleum has provided a consistent and reliable surface for artists to work on.

Today’s linocut artists experiment with various inking techniques and papers, expanding the possibilities of the medium. They incorporate multiple colors through a process known as reduction printing or by using separate blocks for each color. This evolution has enabled artists to create more complex and richly textured prints.

Artists Who Made It Famous



Several artists have significantly contributed to the recognition and popularity of linocut printing. Henri Matisse, known for his vibrant use of color and form, explored linocut later in his career, producing striking prints that echoed his cut-out collages. Picasso also experimented with linocut, pushing the boundaries of the medium and demonstrating its potential for both simplicity and sophistication.








In the contemporary art world, artists like Sybil Andrews and Angie Lewin have kept the tradition alive. Andrews, a member of the Grosvenor School of Modern Art, is renowned for her dynamic, rhythmic linocuts depicting scenes of modern life. Lewin, on the other hand, draws inspiration from the natural world, creating intricate and delicate prints that showcase the medium’s versatility.

Pablo Picasso Linoprint
Angie Lewin Linoprint from the scottish gallery


From its early days as a practical craft material to its status as a respected artistic medium, lino printing has undergone a remarkable transformation. Its evolution has been shaped by the vision and creativity of artists who recognized its potential for expressive, impactful art. As contemporary artists continue to explore and innovate, the legacy of linocut remains vibrant and ever-evolving, ensuring its place in the annals of art history.

This was written by Chat GPT