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Printmaking is typically used for the production of an edition of images, a collection of identical prints that are sold in a limited quantity. Thus, prints are, in some sense, a moneymaking device for artists: The artist can sell his works more cheaply individually, while making more money overall.

Of course, the process of printmaking has its own aesthetic attractions, but in printmaking, process has tended to occupy artists more than in other disciplines. One twist on the process is to print only a single image, allowing the artist to make use of the particular aesthetic qualities of prints while preserving the rarity of the work.

There are endless variations on printing monotypes: one may go to the trouble of creating a plate for multiple prints, then pull just a single image off it; one may paint on a blank plate, and then print the plate, creating an unreproducible image in print form; one may combine normal printing techniques with singular variations, such as adding unique colors to an inked plate before printing; one may also print an image and then hand-color it to bestow uniqueness.