A lithograph is not a copy, nor a reproduction. A lithograph is created without an already existing image. A artist creates an original lithograph directly on the printing surface. While the terms "print" and "original"seem contradictory, the direct printing of the artist's original concept makes multiple prints original works of art, even though more than one copy is "pulled" or printed. Each "print" in the edition is an original because each will differ slightly due to variations in the printing as the edition is pulled: slight variations can occur in the ink density, the condition of the limestone or metal plate, and other factors.
The image is drawn or painted on a limestone or metal plate or mylar surface with a greasy crayon or ink. The stone or matrix is then weakly etched to fix the design. During printing, the stone or metal plate is dampened to prevent the ink (which is rolled on) from adhering to the untreated areas. The greasy areas repel the water, but accept the ink.
Monte Dolack, Lithograph Stone for an early version of Literacy, 1991