Today we have many advantages to experience thanks to modern technology. What was once a much more arduous process, is simplified with ease using the right mechanisms. One of those labor-intensive tasks of the past is the act of creating art copies or prints. While this was once an extremely time-consuming process, the hardest part of creating copies of a print today is simply pressing a button or waiting for the printer to warm up. In the past, people didn’t have this distinct advantage, so they found manual ways to make prints…screen printing– which has proven to be a truly viable art form.
What is screen printing ?
The earliest recognizable form of print Screen appeared more than 1,000 years ago in China during the Song dynasty. Originally based on a hand stenciling method, the process soon evolved into using fine mesh stretched over a frame. The mesh was sometimes made from silk, which led to the alternative name for the technique, “screen printing”. Since its invention, the technique has changed little: once the screen is exposed with the desired image, artists transfer their works by pushing ink through the mesh using a squeegee onto various surfaces. , including paper, fabric and even wood. Similar to Japanese woodblock prints, one color is printed at a time, so multiple screens must be used to produce a multicolor image.
During the 1960s, American artists such as Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol popularized the technique by using it to mass-produce brightly colored graphic-style prints. Their art marked the beginning of the Pop Art movement, and essentially the end of Abstract Expressionism. Since the days of Pop Art, contemporary artists have continued to use screen printing as a medium to produce inspiring works of art.
Check out 10 inspiring screen printing artists you should know.
Perhaps the most well-known screen printing artist in history, the pop artist Andy Warhol first used the technique in the 1960s. Warhol is known for producing stencils of photographic images of celebrity portraits and transferring them from “silver screen” to silk screen by printing them repeatedly in a variety of bright colors.
One of the first and most famous series he produced is his Marilyn Monroe prints, which Warhol based on a photograph from the movie star’s 1953 film, niagara. This marked the beginning of the artist’s desire to create multiple repetitions of the same image – whether the subject was a celebrity or a mundane object, Warhol presented everything he printed as a cultural icon. As Warhol once said, “Isn’t life a series of changing images repeating themselves?”
A prolific printmaker throughout his career, Roy Lichtenstein’s screenprints played an important role in establishing printmaking as an important art form in the 1960s. Inspired by comic books, Lichtenstein produced screenprinted compositions in the same style, with thick contours, bright colors, and Ben Day Points.
His subjects ranged from heartbroken women and “damsels in distress”, to architecture and abstract forms. from Lichtenstein Brushstroke reflects his interest in abstract expressionism. Where other artists had used brushstrokes to directly communicate their feelings and ideas, Lichtenstein Brushstroke the paintings mocked this aspiration, suggesting that although the Abstract Expressionists expressed an aversion to commercialization, they were not immune to it. In Lichtenstein’s view, many Abstract Expressionist paintings were also created in series, using the same motifs over and over again. The pop artist explains, “Real brushstrokes are just as predetermined as cartoon brushstrokes.”
One of the leading British pop artists of the 1960s, Peter Blake is perhaps most famous for his design of the cover of The Beatles‘ Sergeant Pepper album in 1967. The artist often experimented with screen printing, having printed several of his portraits of the Beatles in primary colors, titled Beatles – “Love Me Do”— in sparkling diamond dust.
Today, Blake primarily produces collage-based serigraphs, juxtaposing images from contrasting eras into a single image.
A contemporary screen printing artist is based in Nottingham Laurie Hasting, who creates limited edition silkscreen prints of his intricate line drawings. His images often depict people and landscapes inspired by nature. Hasting also pays homage to nostalgic objects such as juice cans, much like his own version of Warhol’s soup cans.
Hastings sells original prints on her online shop and exhibitions in galleries across the UK and overseas.
Having studied both printed textile design and printmaking, Claire HalifaxHer silkscreen prints combine her interest in textiles with her highly detailed drawings of architectural landscapes of Britain. His limited edition serigraphs are often printed in just one or two colors, and they illustrate the contrast between the “grey concrete jungle[s]and downtown green parks and botanical gardens.
Raised by two architects, Charlie Barton has always been drawn to cityscapes and architectural subjects. His hand-screened posters capture the character and architecture of his hometown, Baltimore. You can buy his prints at Etsy.
London based illustrator Alice Pattullo produces quaint yet vibrant serigraphs that explore “British traditions, folklore and superstitions”. A blue and pink print illustrates the art of jam making with some savvy advice: “Always make your preserves with moonflower to get the most out of your yield.”
Chuck Sperry creates a continuous series of screen-printed wood panels of “contemporary-classical muses”. Her use of lush oil-based inks in colorful pattern overlays results in beautiful portraits of women inspired by “the spirit of modern rock poster art, graffiti and the utopian ethos of 1960s psychedelia” .
Corita Kent was a sister of the religious order of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. She specialized in a form of screen printing called serigraphy, with much of her early work focusing on religious subjects. Throughout the 1960s, the decade she left the order and moved to Boston, her works evolved to include more political subjects.
By the time of her death in 1986, her work had become much more sparse and introspective, although she remained committed to social causes for the rest of her life.
Jermaine Rogers began to be widely recognized for his “gigposter” art in the 90s, and he has since created artwork and posters for music artists like David Bowie, Niel Young, Radiohead, Foo Fighters and many other artists well known. Her screen prints combine vibrant colors, patterns and images to reference various icons and themes in art, music and pop culture.
Do you feel inspired? Find out how you can screen print at home:
Screen printing equipment
The screen printing process requires a number of basic supplies and tools. Screens, glues, various types of inks and squeegees are the simple materials needed to create beautiful screen printed images. Although it may seem technically overwhelming, you can easily find the various equipment online, as well as emulsion kits to help you transfer your images to screens. There are even integers DIY kits with everything you’ll need to get started.
This article has been edited and updated.
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