How It's Handmade: Alcohol Ink Prints

Have you ever been interested in an item at a store or market, and then realized that it was handmade? Score! There’s nothing quite like a handmade item. It feels so unique, intentional, and these days, a little rare. 

We think incorporating handmade elements is especially important in print design. In an industry where digital design now leads the way, it’s refreshing for us to also use tactile materials, like watercolor, gouache, or in today’s case - alcohol inks, to create so many of our prints. When you choose a handmade print from us, you’re choosing a print that was really deliberated over. Its motifs were sketched out, erased over, and re-sketched to get them just right. That handmade print came from a meticulous mixing of paint colors to create that perfect shade of blue. And it came from the careful selection of the correct brush for those intricate details. There may have even been a hand cramp or two involved!

Don’t get us wrong, we love how so many things can be crafted by technology now. Designing on a computer opens up tons of possibilities for creativity! But it’s also nice to go back to our roots in creative work. So we thought we’d start a series that gives you a peek into the handmade side of our studio, with each article featuring a different project we’ve worked on. First up, alcohol ink prints!

If you haven’t worked with alcohol ink before, it can be a somewhat intimidating medium. It was new territory for us, but we wanted to give it a go. We had noticed all of the tie dye effects that were trending, and we thought that alcohol ink would be a fun way to create a similar, but fresh, look. It involved not only a trip to Blick for materials, but a bit of a learning curve. 

Abstract patterns allow for so much experimentation and variety. And our goal here was to create atmospheric, ethereal effects inspired by those tie dye prints we’d been seeing. The subtle layers of color produced soft, cloud-like shapes - exactly what we’d been hoping for! 

Alcohol inks create such a beautiful and unique look. There’s no end to what can be done with this medium. But we believe that’s true of every medium! We’ll be featuring a different material or technique each time. Let us know in the comments if there’s one in particular that you’re curious about. And stay tuned for our next article!