Monotypes are a cross between painting and printmaking in which the image is initially created on a smooth surface such as Plexiglas or metal (the plate), using rollers, brushes, and/or stencils to apply the inks to the plate. A dampened piece of paper is then laid over the inked plate. The ink is transferred to the paper when it is rolled through a press. Additional images and color are often overlaid on that same piece of paper multiple times by repeating the process of inking the plate, placing the dampened paper on the inked plate, and running it through the press.

It is called a monotype, not because the paper and plate are run through the press once, but because there is only one (mono-) strong impression (-type) created and it cannot be repeated. These unique prints are denoted by the words “monotype” or “monoprint” or by the symbol “1/1”.