Friday, June 4, 2010

Prints 101: Screen Prints

As students of printmaking, Ross and I have both been trained in several different printing processes. Naturally, different people excel in different areas, and thankfully that is the case with our preferred mediums. In my first printmaking class (back in Spring 2006, wow) I was very interested in taking the clean designs I was accustomed to creating on the computer and producing them in new ways, by hand. I quickly discovered with relief printing processes (Ross' specialty) there was no "Undo Button." (For those of you with Adobe Illustrator experience, "Command Z" became my mantra as I hacked away at woodblocks.) When I was introduced to screen printing that fall, everything changed. I could finally take photographic image and combine it with computer editing and produce handmade consistency.

Screen printing, or some form of it, has been around since 960 AD starting, naturally, in Asia. As silk became more available to western continents so did the process. Because of the processes ability to reproduce images consistently and effectively, its commercial use has long outweighed its artistic use. In the 1930's the National Serigraphic Society developed the term "Serigraphy" to distinguish artistic pursuits in the medium. This term didn't garner global respect until Andy Warhol popularized the process with a certain image that is so iconic I won't even bother to post a copy (because you know the one.)

Screen printing is the most versatile process in printmaking because it can be done on practically any surface. By using either a stencil or light sensitive emulsion a negative image is produced on a mesh screen.

When ink is pushed through the screen in the areas that are not blocked by stencil or emulsion the image is passed onto paper. (In these photos this is the light sensitive emulsion.) So now you know. When we refer to a screen print on here this is the process we are talking about. Ink being pushed though a mesh screen.

Aaaaaand here's a picture of Ross looking irritated:
Knowledge is power.

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