Serigraph vs. Lithograph – What’s the Difference?

The art world has a reputation, whether deservedly or not, for unwavering attention to detail and unforgiving strictness in terminology.

If you are writing reviews of visual art pieces, you will need to be well-versed in the language of the artistic community so that you will sound well-informed and trustworthy.

That said, if you don’t know the difference between a lithograph and a serigraph, you aren’t alone. Many people, especially those who are not artists, are unfamiliar with these terms.

As we will see, although they refer to similar styles of printing, each is created using a distinct process and must be used carefully.

What is the Difference Between Serigraph and Lithograph?

In this post, I will compare serigraph vs. lithograph. I will use each word in at least one example sentence, so you can see how it appears in context.

Plus, I will show you a helpful memory tool that makes choosing either serigraph or lithograph a little easier for your own writing.

When to Use Lithograph

serigraph versus lithographWhat does lithograph mean? Lithograph is a noun that means a printed image made with oil and water.

When making a lithograph, the printer creates an image on a flat surface using oil or grease. The surface is then covered in ink, which only sticks to the oil or grease and not the rest of the area. Paper is then pressed onto the surface, which absorbs the ink.

For example,

  • At the art fair, artists sold lithographs of their original drawings at small, brightly colored booths.
  • A lithograph from a well-known and highly sought-after artist might sell for many thousands of dollars.
  • In the early 1860s, the Currier and Ives company, which billed itself as “the Grand Central Depot for Cheap and Popular Prints,” distributed colored lithographs by Frances Flora Palmer depicting steamships on the Mississippi, and the show includes two of them. –The Washington Post

Lithograph comes from the Greek terms lithos, meaning stone, and graphos, meaning writing. The word was first used in English in 1825.

When to Use Serigraph

definition of lithograph definition of serigraph definitionWhat does serigraph mean? Serigraph is another noun. It refers to an image printed on fabric using ink and stencils. Silkscreen is another word for this type of print. Artists make serigraphs by placing a stencil on silk or other fabric and then applying ink to the areas not covered by the stencil.

If the artist wishes to use multiple colors, he or she must use a different stencil for each one.

For example,

  • Ellie found a T shirt at the vintage store with a serigraph image depicting the band Iron Maiden.
  • Many of the artists at the art fair also sold serigraph prints of their works.
  • A prolific one-man industry, he generated hundreds of paintings, drawings, watercolors, limited-edition serigraph prints and coffee-table books yearly, earning gross annual revenue in the tens of millions of dollars. –The New York Times

Serigraph is the product of the Latin word for silk spliced onto a Greek word, graphein, that means to write or draw.

Trick to Remember the Difference

define lithograph define serigraphSerigraph and lithograph are both types of art prints.

  • Lithographs are made with ink and oil.
  • Serigraphs are made with stencils and fabric.

Lithograph vs. Serigraph Check: Since serigraph and stencil both begin with the letter S, you should have little trouble remembering which of these words is which.

Summary

Is it lithograph or serigraph? Lithograph and serigraph are nouns for two kinds of printed images. They may appear similar to an untrained observer, but the processes behind each type are different. Thus, the words are not interchangeable, and you would do well to use each carefully.

To summarize,

  • A lithograph is a print made with ink and oil.
  • A serigraph is a print made with stencil, fabric, and ink.