A bit of history
Today we are talking 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 that does not date from yesterday. It arrived in the United States in the 19th century due to strong Chinese immigration. And is therefore developing little by little across the Atlantic.
Primarily used during the Second World War, the technique traveled the world. It was very successful when the technique was used by great artists such as Henri Matisse or Andy Warhol.
At the end of the 1970s screen printing was ubiquitous and was used on all types of media such as signs, stickers, CDs, concert posters, clothing and industrial materials.
But what is screen printing?
The art of screen printing is a direct printing technique. It therefore makes it possible to deposit the ink directly on the textile through a screen (stencil). Originally, screens were made of silk, but today are made of finely woven polyester or nylon.
For this, the printer uses a screen, which will be coated with ink or a photosensitive emulsion. On which he places a film whose role is to protect the part to be masked from ultraviolet rays. Subsequently, by reacting to the 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 once made of wood, is now 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, especially for color printing.
Its Many Benefits
The art of screen printing combines the advantages of several printing techniques. Marking quality, color reproduction, prices, flexibility and the many possibilities. This has made it the reference marking technique today and for several decades, especially in textiles, and 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, rresistant and flexible, screen printing allows a wide and varied choice of possible textile supports (organic cotton, polyester. ), including for fine and light textiles. Indeed, this type of printing is not very aggressive for the fibers of the fabric hence the flexibility in the choice and maintenance of the fabric over time.
If screen printing is widely known for fabric printing. It is also possible to use it on various supports, we find:
- Serigraphy on glass
- Screen printing on wood
- Silkscreen printing on plastic
The technique varies according to the supports but the results are the same, a high quality, very resistant, and almost infinite possibilities.
Artists who graphed in series
The art of screen printing
By Andy Warhol
Screen printing experienced a big comeback in art during the 1960s. Among the most famous artists are Andy Warhol, who popularized this technique in the 1960s with his serigraphs of Marilyn Monroe and many celebrities from the world of stars and the political world which he portrays in series. Infinitely reproducible "icons" that become consumer images. He reuses an existing and popular image like Marylin Monroe, a photo of a star that appeared in the press and multiplies it endlessly! From work to work, or on the same canvas, the image is repeated as in a stamp book. A patterned wallpaper or the label of an assembly-line tin 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 is a sacrilege. With formidable relaxation, the American flouts the traditional idea that the value of a work depends on its uniqueness. A provocation that he takes on to the end since his workshop, which has employed many performers since 1963, is simply called “the Factory”!
The duo Gfeller + Hellsgard who master the art of screen printing
In the 2000s, a Franco-Swedish duo Gfeller + Hellsgard who practiced different activities using screen printing as a medium of experimentation emerged. This vitamin duo was born from a meeting between Anna Hellsgård a Swedish and Christian Meeloo Gfeller a French photographer and graphic designer respectively at that time. The chemistry will quickly work between them and they will settle down 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, discrepancies and other unforeseen events offered by screen printing. Screen printing is an accessible medium and does not require a state-of-the-art facility to produce high quality prints: Gfeller + Hellsgard are an example of this.
The art of screen printing present in fashion
Rapidly, the emerging punk culture appropriated this economical and efficient method. And the English designer Vivienne Westwood is quickly seduced by the art of screen printing. Punk fashion is characterized by a global way of life, of recovery, modification and criticism of the society in which the youth felt trapped. A desire to personalize its identity to its 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 technique of screen printing. Whether on garments that have already been mounted, or on textiles, printed all over and then reassembled.
In the same period, Yohji Yamamoto a Japanese stylist who designs these projects as works; for him the punk culture and the art of screen printing resonated in a different way. Like the collaboration with Levi's where he "parasiticizes" the brand's flagship models to insert poetry verses.
Today some creators work like the latter by using the screen printing technique to parasitize and recycle textiles.
More recently we find fashion designers like Virgil Abloh, who has collaborated on a limited series of t-shirts in partnership with the artist Takashi Murakami. A kit to screen print yourself was put on sale, with an already insulated frame ready to use.
The art of screen printing for everyone
Screen printing is so successful because unlike other printing techniques, such as lithography, xylography and engraving, which require more complex installations and more expensive materials to use with care, you can very well make yourself a small screen printing laboratory. So if screen printing catches your eye and you want to try this practice at home, you can! Here's a little beginner's guide to get you started:
The stencil technique seems ideal to me to start, you will need to bring:
- of a screen, or a wooden or aluminum frame over which is stretched a polyester fabric
- a squeegee, a tool with a metal or wooden handle and a rubber “blade” for printing
- of a coating doctor blade to distribute the emulsion
- of a photosensitive emulsion
- a solvent for photosensitive emulsion
- ink ; classic acrylic colors are also suitable for screen printing
- an ink retarder ; a liquid to be mixed with the colors in order to delay their drying and suitable for use on the screen
- of a screen printing exposure lamp or a simple spotlight
- of a sponge
- and duct tape
We put you a little tutorial that will explain you better than us ;)
For the most beginners among you and even for children, we offer a very simple kit accessible to all to make dinos in series.
Become a killer screenprinter by Quark
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 perfectly suited for children!
And yes, we don't leave them on the floor! It is true that screen printing is a technique that can be complicated for our little brats, but do not panic Quark to the rescue. Here is our little guide to successful screen printing at home:
- Grab your Dinosaur DIY Screen Printing Kit and a kid's paint.
- Put the paint in a paper plate and apply it to the roller (supplied in the kit)
- Apply the paint to a dinosaur piece
- Stamp the dinosaur piece on a sheet
- Repeat with all the parts in the kit
- Create and share your dinosaur!
And it's in your pocket, don't hesitate to share your results with us on Instagram!