About traditional Japanese woodblock printing

In Japanese called Mokuhanga.

Mokuhanga is the traditional water-based printing technique from carved woodblocks.

With a long tradition in Japan, the ancient method became popular in the  Edo period (1603 to 1867) with an increasing bourgeois class as a way to make affordable, good quality, mass-produced art prints, and books.

During that time, ’Ukiyo-e’ was the most popular Japanese printing genre, depicting images of a floating world, such as motifs from historical tales, portraits of kabuki actors and beautiful women, landscapes, and erotic pictures.

Towards the end of 19th century, European artists discovered the art of Japanese woodblock printing and became extremely enthusiastic about it in regard to its content as well a style. There was a sense of compositional freedom, asymmetry and irregularity, a use of vivid colours and strong contours deeply influenced by European art, especially the Impressionist and Post-Impressionists art movements.

How were the Japanese wood-block prints made?

Woodblock printing was a complex process with three to four stages, each one usually performed by a different person. An artist was responsible for painting the design in ink onto a piece of paper. Carvers then meticulously carved these drawings into multiple woodblocks, with a separate block for each colour. Printers then inked the blocks with different pigments and printed the final version onto handmade paper, layering one colour over another using the various blocks.