The art of screen printing

L'art de la Sérigraphie - Quark

A little history

Today we are talking to you about the art of screen printing. Indeed, a real phenomenon in Europe and the United States, this trend appeared in China during the Song dynasty. And it was in 960, we can say that it is an ancestral technique which does not date from yesterday. It arrived in the United States in the 19th century due to strong Chinese immigration. And is therefore gradually developing across the Atlantic.

Primarily used during the Second World War, the technique travels the world. It enjoyed great success when the technique was used by great artists like Henri Matisse or Andy Warhol.

At the end of the 70s, screen printing was omnipresent and was used on all types of media such as signage, stickers, CDs, concert posters, clothing and industrial equipment.

But actually what is screen printing?

The art of screen printing is a direct printing technique. It therefore allows the ink to be deposited directly on the textile through a screen (stencil). Originally the screens were made of silk, but today they are made of finely woven polyester or nylon.

Screen printing

To do this, the printer uses a screen, which will be coated with ink or a photosensitive emulsion. On which he has a film whose role is to protect the part to be masked from ultraviolet rays. Subsequently, by reacting to light, the emulsion spread on the screen hardens and impregnates the support.

In modern screen printing, a more efficient screen printing machine is used. The screen, which was originally a silk fabric, is replaced by polyamide and polyester. While the frame, which was previously made of wood, is now made of aluminum.

There are several types of industrial screen printing:

  • Flat screen printing: used for flat supports
  • Rotary screen printing: used to print cylindrical objects
  • Screen printing on textiles which is a more elaborate process, particularly for color printing.

Its many advantages

The art of screen printing brings together the advantages of several printing techniques . Marking quality, color reproduction, prices, flexibility and numerous possibilities. Which makes it today and for several decades the reference marking technique, especially in textiles, and this is not without reason. Most companies use the art of screen printing for their t-shirts, sweatshirts, aprons, tote bags, the possibilities are almost endless . In short, resistant and flexible , screen printing allows a wide and varied choice of possible textile supports (organic cotton, polyester, etc.), including for fine and light textiles. In fact, this type of printing is not very aggressive for the fabric fibers , hence the flexibility in the choice and maintenance of the fabric over time.

If screen printing is widely known for printing on fabrics. It is also possible to use it on various media, we find:

  • Screen printing on glass
  • Screen printing on wood
  • Screen printing on plastic
Screen printing on wood

The technique varies depending on the media but the results are the same, high quality, very resistant, and almost endless possibilities.

Artists who graphed serially

The art of screen printing

By Andy Warhol

silkscreen by Andy Warhol

Screen printing made a big comeback in art during the 1960s. Among the best-known artists we find in particular Andy Warhol , who popularized this technique in the 1960s with his screen prints of Marilyn Monroe and many celebrities from the world of stars. and the political world which he portrays in series. Infinitely reproducible “icons” which become consumer images. He reuses an existing and popular image like Marylin Monroe, a photo of a star published in the press and multiplies it infinitely! From work to work, or on the same canvas, the image repeats itself like on a book of stamps. Patterned wallpaper or the label of a mass-produced can. Thus reproduced in series, it becomes more than ever a cliché... until it loses its meaning.

An artist who produces works on an assembly line, in different colors. For many critics of the time, Warhol was sacrilege. With formidable relaxation, the American flouts the traditional idea according to which the value of a work depends on its unique character. A provocation that he accepts to the end since his workshop, which has employed numerous performers since 1963, is simply called “the Factory”!

The Gfeller + Hellsgard duo who master the art of screen printing brilliantly

Gfeller + Hellsgard

In the 2000s a Franco-Swedish duo Gfeller + Hellsgard emerged who practiced different activities using screen printing as a medium of experimentation. This vibrant duo was born from a meeting between Anna Hellsgård, a Swedish woman, and Christian Meeloo Gfeller, a French photographer and graphic designer respectively at that time. The chemistry will quickly work between them and they will set up together to create a screen printing studio. It will be the starting point for a rich and varied work ranging from artist books to monographs, from installations to paintings.

Unlike artists like Andy Warhol who used large-scale screen printing as a medium popularizing the mass production of art itself, Gfeller + Hellsgard design each print as unique. They seek to push the limits and constantly experiment, which is easily noticed in their work which plays with imperfections, shifts and other unforeseen events offered by screen printing. Screen printing is an accessible medium and does not require state-of-the-art installation to produce high quality prints: Gfeller + Hellsgard are an example.

The art of screen printing present in fashion

Vivienne Westwood

Quickly, the emerging punk culture adopted this economical and effective method. And the English designer Vivienne Westwood was quickly seduced by the art of screen printing. Punk fashion is characterized by a global way of life, recovery, modification and criticism of the society in which young people felt trapped. A desire to personalize one's identity, down to one's clothing, was more than present. In the 80s Vivienne Westwood was inspired by these “handmade” clothes to create her first collection. In order to keep the raw side of the designs, she uses the screen printing technique. Whether on already assembled clothing, or on textiles, printed 'all over' then reassembled.

Yohji Yamamoto

During the same period, Yohji Yamamoto, a Japanese stylist who designed these projects as works; for him, punk culture and the art of screen printing resonated in another way. Like the collaboration with Levi's where he “parasites” the brand's flagship models to insert verses of poetry.

Today some designers work like the latter using the screen printing technique to parasitize and recycle textiles.

More recently we find fashion designers like Virgil Abloh, who collaborated on a limited series of t-shirts in partnership with the artist Takashi Murakami. A kit for screen printing yourself was put on sale, with an already insulated frame ready to use.

The art of screen printing for everyone

screen printing kit

If screen printing is so successful it is because unlike other printing techniques, such as lithography, xylography and engraving, which require more complex installations and more expensive materials to be used with care, we can very good at building a small screen printing laboratory at home. So if screen printing appeals to you and you want to try this practice at home, it's possible! Here's a little beginner's guide to get started:

The stencil technique seems ideal to me to start with, you will need:

  • a screen , or a wooden or aluminum frame on which a polyester canvas is stretched
  • a squeegee, a tool with a metal or wooden handle and a rubber “blade” for printing
  • a coating blade allowing the emulsion to be distributed
  • of a photosensitive emulsion
  • of a solvent for photosensitive emulsion
  • ink ; classic acrylic colors are also suitable for screen printing
  • an ink retarder ; a liquid to mix with colors in order to delay their drying and suitable for use on the screen
  • a screen printing exposure lamp or a simple spot
  • with a sponge
  • and adhesive tape

We'll give you a little tutorial that will explain it to you better than us ;)

Start screen printing! Print clothes

For the most beginners among you and even for children we offer you a very simple kit accessible to all to make dinos in series.

Become a killer screen printer by Quark

Quark screen printing

At Quark we are also interested in screen printing and we want to diversify to please as many people as possible. We have therefore released a small, very easy-to-use kit that is perfectly suited for children!

And yes, we don’t leave them behind! It is true that screen printing is a technique that can be complicated for our little kids, but don't panic Quark to the rescue. Here is our little guide to successfully screen printing at home:

  1. Grab your DIY Dinosaur Screen Printing Kit and some kids’ paint.
  2. Put the paint in a paper plate and apply it on the roller (provided in the kit)
  3. Apply paint to a dinosaur piece
  4. Stamp the dinosaur piece onto a sheet
  5. Repeat the operation with all the parts of the kit
  6. Create and share your dinosaur!

And that’s it, don’t hesitate to share your results with us on Instagram !

Back to Blog

Leave a comment

Please note that comments must be approved before they will be published.

1 of 3