Touchable, Memorable Design – New Educational Book features History of Engraving with Beautifully Executed Engraved Samples

“In the 1430s, around the same time Johannes Gutenberg was creating a revolution by developing the first printing press, engraving techniques began to appear in both Italy and Germany. The technique they used is called intaglio, an Italian word that literally means ‘carving’ –a process that involves incising or carving by hand, dots, dashes, hatches, lines, and shapes into the surface of metal plates to form images including letters.”


Engraving has been the first choice of graphic processes for professionals for centuries, combining tactile interest with rich opaque colors, reproducing fine lines and solids with stunning clarity and ensuring faithfulness to a designer’s intentions. This technique affords a great degree of flexibility when printing, and realizing tactile textures in a sensory-filled, memorable way.

Beautiful swirls, colorful lines, fine, uncoated paper and the feeling of raised print under your fingertips. These are the experiences you can expect when handling pages that have been engraved in Design to Touch, Engraving: History, Process, Concepts and Creativity, a new book written by Rose Gonnella, Executive Director of the Robert Busch School of Design at Kean University.


Since 1911, the International Engraved Graphics Association has existed to support engravers working professionally. This organization hosts events and supports the education of engraving as a profession and as a printing technique. In conjunction with the IEGA, author, designer, illustrator-artist, and educator Rose Gonnella has co-authored this educational book about engraving, featuring renowned designer contributions and examples of real world process and techniques.


Design To Touch was designed for educators, however, it is far more than an educational textbook. It’s also a beautifully executed showcase of the history of the engraving process. Over two dozen pages are exquisitely engraved, featuring work from notable artists including Jessica Hische, Stefan Sagmeister, Louise Fili, and Steve Sandstrom and many of the beautiful engravings are stunningly represented on Mohawk paper.


The book highlights process. To engrave a piece, an engraver will create designs by cutting or etching fine lines into metal plates, called “dies”. Historically, these lines were hand cut, causing engraving to be labor intensive. Since then, new technologies and techniques have used photo-etching and other high speed techniques that have enabled these processes to become much more timely and affordable.

Rose advises that since the pages are so beautiful, “you may be tempted to remove the thirty engraved pages from the book, have them framed and hang them on a wall in your studio or living room…Don’t tear out the pages! Recommended instead, keep Design to Touch all together as a single cohesive resource. While turning the pages enjoy it for the pure aesthetic pleasure of the design artistry found in the engravings and for the book as a whole.”


Whether you pick the book up to learn more about engraving, to use as an educational textbook, or to see the beautiful detail work by current artists, you will surely learn how to effectively create “design to touch.”


Design to Touch is currently available on and through Amazon. Or, comment below to tell us if you’ve used engraving techniques on any of your projects, and you could win one of three copies of Design to Touch for yourself! Contest end on 4/9 at 3pm EST.

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Comments (10)

  1. Posted by adolf witzeling on 04.3.14 at 12:40 pm

    Amazing book. I’ve been fascinated by old engravings for many many years now. The crafmanship of those engravings is superb. This is a craft I would love to know how to do (I’ve done digital illustrations, engraving style for some of my clients)-so maybe if I win a book, it’ll get me started in the right direction.

  2. Posted by Dawn on 04.3.14 at 4:05 pm

    LOVE Engraving… my business cards are engraved onto uncoated stock with a metallic copper ink… and the engraving process allows the metallic ink to shine, creating the perfect contrast on the uncoated card stock!! I also teach design to college students and love to have real samples to show them… this book would be a great show and tell piece. 😉

  3. Posted by Brianna on 04.4.14 at 3:53 pm

    I’ve never used engraving myself, but I would love to learn more about it! Plus the engraved pages look so beautiful and I want to my own copy to appreciate!

  4. Posted by Michael on 04.4.14 at 4:04 pm

    Engraving is the bees kneez. In all seriousness, I really admire how it can be such a beautiful touch to a work of art. Experimenting in grad school with various mixed-media pieces, I usually apply non-traditional DIY engraving approaches to most of my artwork. It adds another level of appreciation to a design when done tastefully, like Dawn’s comment above. So much respect for the traditional origin of engraving that has been such a large part of our history through various techniques of printmaking (Albrecht Dürer is the man!). I also work with a group of very talented creatives that could really benefit from this book and possibly spark some more examples to life. Thanks for making this!

  5. Posted by Debb on 04.4.14 at 5:06 pm

    I have never been lucky enough to have worked on an engraving project. Everyone asks for thermography instead. =( I would love to get on my hands on this book though just to feel the beautiful designs.

  6. Posted by Claire on 04.4.14 at 6:07 pm

    I love engraving! I’ve never engraved anything myself, but work in a stationery shop where I have worked on hundreds of engraved stationery orders, from business cards to wedding invitations. I’ve learned a lot about the process over the years, but so enjoy continuing to explore the creative possibilities.

  7. Posted by Erin Ehman on 04.7.14 at 12:08 pm

    This book sounds wonderful. I would love to have a copy. The first thing I do when picking up anything printed – run my fingers over it. Tactile. I’ve never incorporated engraving into any of my designs but have used embossing and debossing quite often. I would love to learn more about the process.

  8. Posted by Suzette on 04.8.14 at 11:32 am

    We used to use engraving all the time. Not so much in recent years. It is so nice to see that the art of engraving has not died. Thermography has always been the poor man’s engraving option, but there is no substitute for the real deal for effect and quality. I would love to get my hands on a copy of this book and feel the magic. 🙂

  9. Posted by Steve Kurtz on 04.8.14 at 6:20 pm

    Adding engraving in the last year has been a great addition to our business at Studio On Fire.

  10. Posted by Erin Smith on 04.11.14 at 4:03 pm

    Please help keep engraving alive! Go to and buy the book!!!

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