What We Do

Crown Point Press specializes in intaglio printing. To make an intaglio print, the artist first draws on a copper plate using a sharp tool and/or materials like soap, sugar, tar or wax. We etch the image into the plate using acid. Finally, a printer pushes ink by hand into the plate and wipes the surface clean. The press forces the paper into the plate to make the print. A visible plate edge shows that the image is embossed into the paper.

As a publisher and printer of fine art etchings since 1962, Crown Point Press is committed to keeping the medium of intaglio alive. We do this through our technical books on printmaking, tours of our studio and gallery, and through this website, which focuses on the creative process and the art and craft of printmaking, primarily etching. On this website you will find descriptions of techniques used in the Crown Point Press etching studio, tips and tricks from our master printers, and videos of artists working and talking about the process. You can view an online archive of our published prints on the Magical Secrets parent website: Crown Point Press.

How We Got Here

Crown Point Press began in 1962 as a print workshop, and started publishing prints in 1965 with etching portfolios by Richard Diebenkorn and Wayne Thiebaud. It functioned as both workshop and publisher until 1971 when its founder, Kathan Brown, formed an alliance with the New York publisher Parasol Press. In that year Crown Point Press moved from Brown’s Berkeley basement to a loft space in downtown Oakland, and —through Parasol Press— began working with New York artists Sol LeWitt, Brice Marden, and others who would later be seen as key members of the Minimal art movement.

In 1977 Crown Point Press shifted its emphasis back to its own publishing program, and began working with a group of mainly Conceptual artists including Vito Acconci, Chris Burden, Tom Marioni, Hans Haacke, and John Cage. Click here for a list of artists published by Crown Point. They represent a variety of contemporary art approaches, and many of them live in countries other than the United States.

Art historian Susan Tallman in her 1996 book, The Contemporary Print, describes Crown Point Press as “the most instrumental American printshop in the revival of etching as a medium of serious art.” Much credit is due Karen McCready, sales director of Crown Point from 1982 through 1995. She opened and directed a Crown Point Press gallery in New York’s SoHo district, and her success there encouraged the addition of Asian woodcut techniques to the press’s printmaking activity.

In 1982, the 20th anniversary year of Crown Point Press, the press began a program in which two or three artists a year traveled to Kyoto, Japan, to work with printer Tadashi Toda. His family had handed down traditional watercolor woodcut printing skills since the 17th century. That program led to a similar one in China, which began in 1986. Both programs, however, ended in 1989, when a major earthquake in San Francisco unexpectedly caused Crown Point’s move to its present location on Hawthorne Street. To learn more about the woodblock programs in Japan and China, click here.

Aside from the Asian woodblock programs, Crown Point has always concentrated on etching. Its director Valerie Wade, who joined Crown Point in 1988, has shepherded the press since San Francisco’s 1989 earthquake and subsequent move to its Hawthorne Street building.

Crown Point Press celebrated its 25th birthday with an exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and archives of its work are owned by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. An exhibition jointly sponsored by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the National Gallery was held in 1997, Crown Point’s 35th year.

In 2012, Crown Point Press celebrated its 50th anniversary, and Kathan Brown published her memoir, Know That You Are Lucky  the same year. The exhibition Yes, No, Maybe: Artists Working at Crown Point Press at the National Gallery featured 125 workings proofs and final prints by 25 artists who worked at Crown Point Press from 1972 through 2010. The catalog accompanying the exhibition has an essay by curators Judith Brodie and Adam Greenhalgh.

Crown Point Press is located in San Francisco, its entrance on Hawthorne Street around the corner from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Its gallery is open to the public. With a staff of ten, Crown Point produces and publishes etchings by three or four invited artists a year. It also holds summer workshops open to all.

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The Crown Point Printers

Since Crown Point’s beginning in 1962, more than 30 printers have worked in the Crown Point etching studio. Most of them, in time, became master printers and some later moved on to teach printmaking or open their own printmaking shops.

The designation of “Crown Point Master Printer” implies an expertise in etching techniques as used at Crown Point Press. Generally, Crown Point printers earn master printer status after three years of full-time work. Although founder Kathan Brown no longer actively prints, she was the first Crown Point Master Printer and continues to teach the skills and to decide when each printer is ready to achieve the title. Crown Point Master Printers lead our artist projects and also teach our summer workshops.

  • Emily York

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    Emily York

    Senior Master Printer

    Senior Master Printer Emily York earned a BA in art with an emphasis in printmaking from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1999. While on a school field trip she visited Crown Point’s 35-year retrospective at the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco, and instantly knew she wanted to be a printer. In 2000 she began training as a printer at what is now Paulson Fontaine Press, a fine art etching press in Berkeley founded by Pam Paulson, a Crown Point master printer. In 2004 she began working at Crown Point Press and received the master printer title in 2005. She is the author of Magical Secrets about Aquatint, one of four volumes in Crown Point’s popular instructional series.

    Emily grew up in St. Helena, in California’s Napa Valley. She lives in Oakland with her husband and preschool-age daughter. In her free time she enjoys cooking and craft projects, making miniature paintings, and creating shadow puppets and sculptures of dragons and dinosaurs with her daughter.

    emily@crownpoint.com

  • Sam Carr-Prindle

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    Sam Carr-Prindle

    Master Printer

    Master Printer Sam Carr-Prindle joined the printing staff at Crown Point Press in 2015 after working as a printer for seven years at Paulson Fontaine Press (then Paulson Bott) in Berkeley with Crown Point master printers Pam Paulson and Renee Bott. He grew up in Santa Barbara and earned a BFA in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2007. While in school, he studied etching with Brian Shure and interned with Paul Mullowney, both Crown Point master printers.

    Sam became a Crown Point master printer in 2016. Alongside his work as a printer, he plays in a band, paints, and is part owner of a brewery in West Oakland.

    sam@crownpoint.com

  • Courtney Sennish

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    Courtney Sennish

    Printer

    Courtney Sennish is originally from Ohio. She interned at Crown Point Press while studying printmaking at the Rhode Island School of Design with Crown Point Master Printer Brian Shure. In 2013, after receiving her BFA, she moved to San Francisco to work toward an MFA at the California College of the Arts and to further develop her own art. In this period, she also worked part time as a printer at Mullowney Printing with Crown Point Master Printer Paul Mullowney. Upon completion of her advanced degree in 2015 she began work as a printer at Crown Point Press. She continues to create paintings and sculpture in her own studio.

    Courtney lives in San Francisco where she plays beach volleyball on Sundays and enjoys cycling through Golden Gate Park.

    courtney@crownpoint.com

  • Kathan Brown

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    Kathan Brown

    Founding Director and Master Printer

    Kathan Brown was born in New York City, grew up in Florida, earned a B.A. (with an English major) from Antioch College in Ohio, attended the London Central School of Arts and Crafts (two years), and later received an M.F.A. and an honorary doctorate from the California College of the Arts. She also holds an honorary doctorate from the San Francisco Art Institute.

    With her then-husband Jeryl Parker, founded Crown Point Press in 1962 in Richmond, California. In 1964 the couple parted and Kathan moved the press to the basement of her home in Berkeley. In 1964 she published a handmade book of her own etchings, and in 1965 followed it with three more books of etchings by artists she invited to work with her: Richard Diebenkorn, Beth Van Hoesen, and Wayne Thiebaud. She also held etching workshops open to all, and worked as a typist when funds were low. Between 1966 and 1974 she taught etching at the San Francisco Art Institute, eventually becoming head of the printmaking department. Kathan Brown and sculptor Tom Marioni met in 1974 and married in 1983.

    Kathan Brown’s personal history is intertwined with that of Crown Point Press, which she has owned and operated since 1962. Her writing includes several of her own books and also web materials and newsletters for the press. She has edited the Magical Secrets series of instructional books published by Crown Point, and since the late 1970s has been shooting video in the Crown Point studio. (For a more detailed biography of Kathan Brown, click here.)

     

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