Woodcut is a printing that first debuted in the 14th century. It was initially developed to reproduce images in books and printed materials. Woodcuts use relief printing methods whereby designs are cut into a block of wood (typically boxwood) using carving or engraving tools, leaving raised areas around image areas while cutting away areas outside. Once this block has been inked with ink, it can be pressed against paper or fabric to transfer its inked image onto printed material.
Woodcut printing was one of the earliest printing forms, predating moveable type. Woodcut images were frequently featured in books before the invention of printing presses; its mass production and distribution enabled revolutionizing communication and visual art alike.
Woodcuts are known for their striking and graphic qualities, often featuring strong lines and simplified forms. Due to the wood’s organic composition, these prints typically exhibit rough textures with distinctive organic looks that add visual interest and an engaging aesthetic appeal when printed materials.
Woodcut was popular until the 19th century when more efficient printing techniques such as lithography and etching made woodcut obsolete. But its revival in the 20th century as an artistic medium valued for its expressive, handcrafted qualities saw its comeback – it remains used today by artists and printmakers to create original prints or limited edition artworks while upholding tradition and contributing to the publishing/art industry’s broad array of printing techniques.