In this post I explore the screen printing technique. I give some historical background, current examples of usage and I also share my personal experience.

This week I decided to write about something different from usual, so you don’t get bored.

I’m using my own experience to persuade you to explore screen printing in your next project. It’s that good as a differentiator factor and it will be good to your mind as well.

Designers are returning to DIY techniques and mixing up mediums, so I believe that it might make a comeback soon enough.

I was very curious about screen printing and admire those who know how to do it, so I decided to try it myself.

Safe to say that I loved every single part of it and wanted to tell you about it.

What the hell is screen printing and where did it come from?

It’s a manual printing technique where a mesh — originally silk — is used to transfer ink onto some surface.

The mesh is attached to a frame that is either made out of wood or steel. Since it’s under a certain tension, it remains fully stretched. You can then make it impermeable by using an emulsion and exposing it to infrared lights.

After that, you will wash the mesh (to remove those parts where you want the ink to go through) and dry it out completely.

Now, the fun part begins! It’s time to passe the ink from the mesh to the printing surface.

screen-printing-paint-hands

This printing technique, also called silk screen printing, goes back to the Song Dynasty in China, over 1,000 years ago.

It was introduced in Western Europe from Asia in the 18th century but since silk wasn’t something easy to found and buy, it only became popular during the 60’s in America.

Why should you care about any of this

Well, first off you should be informed not only about trending tools, but also have some knowledge of old ones. That way, you can come up with inventive new ideas for your projects.

And secondly, you could follow in the footsteps of some talented and recognized artists like Andy Warhol. Or use this method for printing t-shirts, totes, and apparel in general.

However, some designers see it as a way to be different by combining both physical and digital tools. The most recent example is the Barack Obama’s Hope campaign poster.

My own experience during my workshop at Fica – Oficina Criativa

I’ve mentioned workshops before as a way to do something different, but truthfully I hadn’t got the time to go.

These days, I had no excuse and it was about time to invest in something outside work where I could learn something different and new.

I ended up printing two tote bags and two different color t-shirts and used both white and black inks. Pretty basic shit right? Not really. These two colors are very different to work with since one is a lot denser and the other completely liquid, so they both produce very different results. Great for a first timer that wanted to risk just a little bit (I still like to keep things simples, though).

The most interesting part is that every piece ended up different and even though in on of the totes I screwed up, I didn’t get upset at all. In fact, that’s the one that I love the most because I manage to do a mistake yet found it beautiful and unique.

screen-printing-tote

So I guess that besides learning a new technique, I learned more than what I was counting on. I realized that everything can indeed be an experiment and even an error can produce an unexpected awesome result, you just have to own it and make it yours.

If you can, go and try it with someone that is experienced like Rita Daniel at Fica – Oficina Criativa. They will teach you and encourage you to be risky at the same time.

Don’t forget to leave your comments, complaints and everything in between. Also, feel free to share your beautiful printing mistakes with me as well! 🎨


Also published on Medium.