Print Media: Art in a State of Multiplicity

By Shannon Moynagh

Carving in progress

In the field of visual art much emphasis is placed on the unique, one of a kind art object. This, however, does not reflect the society we currently live in. Everything exists in a state of multiplicity, from the mass produced objects we use every day, to everything that grows and reproduces in nature. Print media is an art form that exists in a state of multiplicity; there is no singular, original print. From screen prints to lithographs, artworks are created in series. This allows artworks to be spread among the masses- i.e. an individual does not have to be rich to own a print. More museums and archives can own and display these works, therefore allowing more people to enjoy the art. Print media is the truly democratic art form, allowing for mass dissemination. Print media is also often created in communal studio environments, allowing for more opportunities for artists to collaborate with their peers.

Printmaking includes screen print, lithography, relief, intaglio (copper plate etching), as well as various monoprinting and experimental techniques. Each involves a different production method, but yields similar results: an edition, or collection, of prints. Artist’s use a print matrix- for example, screen printing usually requires a stencil affixed to the silk screen; a relief print requires a carved plate, like wood or linoleum. This matrix is then inked and printed, which is repeated multiple times to create a series of prints. The artist can create an edition of identical prints, or add slight changes to create varied editions. Multiplicity can exist within a single artwork as well. Printmakers can use a single image multiple times within the same print, or use multiple prints to create large-scale murals, sculptures, or installation-based works.

Canadian Flag, relief print mural created during Multicultural day’s community print project at the Scarborough Historical Museum 2016
Canadian Flag in progress, relief print mural created during Multicultural day’s community print project at the Scarborough Historical Museum 2016

One of the main characteristics of life is reproducibility, which is what inspires my own work in print media. The mechanical and repetitive methods inherent in printmaking allow me to truly integrate my own actions into the rhythms and cycles of nature. I enjoy the meditative feelings that this repetitive process invokes, the control of nuanced pre-planning versus the sometimes unpredictable outcomes of employing high degrees of repetition, which I see as akin to the process of evolution in the natural world. The imagery in my prints have taken on various forms, from more abstract, process-based compositions to representational, narrative-based images.

Narwhals, relief and screen print on paper, 2018
Seed, relief print on paper, 2017
Linoleum Plate (print Matrix) for Seed

I have 3 children, and am currently pregnant with my 4th, so fertility and growth have been a strong theme throughout my practice. My latest prints, Seed and Narwhals, quite overtly reference my latest pregnancy. I have also created large-scale, print-based installations at various galleries, including the Gladstone Gallery Toronto and the Living Arts Centre Mississauga. These installations have included hundreds of prints, often arranged to mimic organic growth that envelops the site- nature reclaiming urban spaces.

Another aspect of printmaking I enjoy immensely is the community-based printmaking projects that I have been involved in throughout Toronto. I am a member of the InPrint Collective, a group of printmakers who work to promote print media and community-based art projects throughout the GTA. For several years now we have worked with various museums, like the Scarborough Museum, Montgomery’s Inn, and Gibson House, to host interactive art events wherein large-scale print murals are produced. In most cases these events are co-facilitated by teams of youth volunteers from each museum, providing a valuable opportunity for these youth to explore a new art form. It is also a valuable opportunity for me as an artist to engage in creative endeavors with the community, embracing an art form that itself exists in a state of multiplicity.

Siorai, relief print on paper, edition of 150 created for the Wayzgoose Anthology 2014

Shannon Moynagh is a Brampton-based artist and arts educator. She is an artist-member of the InPrint Collective, also serving on their Board of Directors, and a member of Beaux-Arts Brampton, where she occupies studio #7. Shannon received her Bachelor of Fine Arts, Studio Art, from York University in 2009, specializing in print media, painting and installation. She has exhibited her work in Toronto, Brampton, Mississauga, Montreal, and beyond. Shannon has also curated several exhibitions throughout the GTA, and her work has been featured in several editions of the Grimsby Art Gallery’s Wayzgoose Anthology. For inquiries regarding classes and commissions she can be reached via e-mail at


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