Posted on July 30 2020
If you already took a look at our website, you probably noticed we have many antique motifs in our collections (if you didn't, we suggest you start by our Antique Illustrations collection, which we have just released). Maybe you are even wondering where we found them and how we turned them into beautiful posters.
We have to admit it is not a simple and fast process, but when we see the results we always agree it is worth it. Most of the old illustrations we print were originally printed as lithographs, a process in which a design is drawn onto a flat stone (or prepared metal plate, usually zinc or aluminum) and affixed by means of a chemical reaction.
But let's start from the beginning.
Lithography was invented in 1796 by German author and actor Alois Senefelder as a cheap method of publishing theatrical works. It originally used an image drawn with oil, fat, or wax onto the surface of a smooth, level lithographic limestone plate.
Alois Senefelder, the man who invented lithography
The stone was treated with a mixture of acid and gum arabic, etching the portions of the stone that were not protected by the grease-based image. When the stone was subsequently moistened, these etched areas retained water. An oil-based ink could then be applied and would be repelled by the water, sticking only to the original drawing. The ink would finally be transferred to a blank paper sheet, producing a printed page.
If it's hard for you to turn this process into images, we strongly recommend this illustrated post on the Met Museum website.
Right now we are very proud of our Antique Illustrations collection, made of lithographs from the 1800s. It took us some months to do all the research, select the images and finally have the collection ready to be released.
Some of our antique motifs
The process started in second-hand book shops. We are permanently in contact with booksellers and when they find very old books or encyclopedias, they already know they should give us a call. We are always interested, especially the ones with remarkable illustrations.
Once we had the books, we analysed page by page to select which ones were interesting to turn into posters. This was Maryna's favourite part of the process. Our creative and empowered leader had a lot of fun discovering the small and fascinating details of the illustrations!
Maryna and part of her amazing lithography collection
After that, they were scanned, and then we invested a lot of time giving them the best edition they could have. Only when we were satisfied, we proceeded to the printers. That was the moment to test all the sizes and both materials: fine-art paper and cotton canvas. We only put them on our online store when the result was amazing. Because your walls don't deserve anything less than that!
Take a look at some of our favourite motifs from the Antique Illustrations collection:
Do you like the Antique Illustrations collection? Check out more motifs here.