As professional canvas printers, we're fascinated by the processes and technology that has brought us to where we are today. In the greater scheme of things, canvas printing is a relatively new invention - but printing as a concept could be dated back as far as 15,000 BC if you start at prehistoric cave paintings!


In this week’s blog, we're going to take you on a quick journey through the history of printing, leading right up to the modern day.

From primitive print to mass production

In its most basic and primitive form, and excluding those prehistoric paintings, the first evidence of printing can really be seen during the period around 3000 BC; clay stamps have been discovered and round cylinder seals were being used in Mesopotamia for creating impressions onto clay tablets. Very physical and manual forms of ancient print could also be seen by the Greeks in 750 BC where the trusty hammer and chisel were used to create inscriptions into stone, but purists would argue that this form of recording events and information isn’t really printing as it didn’t allow for easy reproduction!

By this time, papyrus had already been used for many years, and the Greeks and the Romans were well known for their advanced technology in many ways. However, the Chinese were also way ahead of the times, with true ink being invented and used for wood block printing in 400 A.D., quickly followed by the use of this ink for producing seals and stamps. The first known printed book was produced in 868 A.D. by the Chinese, who were also reported to have been seen printing paper money 400 years later.

While movable type was being used in East Asia much earlier, it wasn't until the middle 1400s that Europeans were using this technique, and in 1477, printing in its more modern form was brought to England.

Throughout the 1600s and 1700s printing took a broader use and appeal, with newspapers and magazines slowly finding their feet. Of course the 1700s also brought the advent of the industrial revolution, leading to more sophisticated print presses and equipment which paved the way for printing as we know it today.

Photographic prints and automatic typesetting started to be used in the latter part of the 19th century, and 100 years later printing plants started to benefit from electronics, allowing faster and more efficient production processes.

Printing in the modern day

Of course, the real printing boom has been seen over the last hundred years, with huge advancements in technology bringing printing equipment and consumables to a truly mass market. Printers have become more sophisticated, from dot matrix, to inkjet, to laser - and these different technologies have allowed us to print on a wider variety of materials, including canvas.

Most recently, 3D printing has started to hit the headlines; in the early days of print, we would never have thought this possible, but progress is definitely a wonderful thing! While we think 3D printing is quite incredible though, we love our experiences of printing onto canvas, so we’ll probably stick with that!

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