Three New Prints Added this Week – Serigraphs

It has been a few weeks since I’ve added anything to the site, and in the interest of keeping my word of “updating and blogging regularly” I thought this might be a great opportunity to do a little of both. This week I added three new serigraph prints to the portfolio. I thought I’d take this opportunity to write a little about these pieces and the ideas behind them.

First, A little about Serigraphy

Serigraphy is the fine art of screen printing and has been around for probably 1,000 years, though popularized greatly by Andy Warhol in the 1960′s. There is no difference between “screen printing,” “silk-screening” and “serigraphy.” Silk-screened shirts are technically “serigraph prints on fabric,” only no one calls them that. The process for printing on clothing is the same as printing on paper, though you’ll usually use a different ink type (one that is cured using heat, so that will make it through the wash). The process is fairly simple and starts with a screen, (which originally made from silk, but now is usually made of nylon or polyester) stretched onto a wooden or metal frame. The great thing about these screens is that they can be used multiple times. Here are a few shots of mine, you can see a stained “ghost” image from older prints.

Once you have your screen, you need to coat it with a light-sensitive, or photo emulsion to fill in all the tiny gaps in the mesh and allowed to dry (in the dark). Once the screen has been coated and dried, you’ll need artwork. The image you’d like to print can be painted, drawn, copied or printed onto a clear film, piece of glass, or directly on the screen (it just needs to be transparent where there is an absence of artwork – you could even cut out shapes of cardboard or thick paper instead of drawing if you wish). Once this artwork is on top of your screen, expose it to ultraviolet light (we used a machine for this, but setting the screen in the sun works too). Once the screen has been exposed, the areas in the sun will cure and become hard. Washing the screen with water will remove the emulsion that was blocked by your artwork. The ink will now pass through these areas (you can refer to the picture above, the dark green areas are blocked while the light allows ink to pass). Pouring ink at the top of the screen, and pulling a squeegee down through it transfers your image to whatever you’ve place the frame on. Viola!  A screen print.

Multiple Colors

Multiple colors involve either multiple screens, multiple exposures, or blocking off sections of the screen for each color (refer to the images above, you can see a few image areas). We had a hinged “C-clamp” contraption that allowed our screens to be raised and lowered, like a laptop lid, so we would have consistent placement.

Registration can be tricky between passes, but the way I’ve found best to maintain decent registration is to tape a clear piece of film above my previous print and lay the second color on top of it. Adjust the paper underneath to line up with the clear sheet, then remove the film and print on paper.  Sometimes it’s a little off, which can be ok, other times, it’s good to run many, many initial prints and have extras, just in case. It takes practice.
OK enough of the process, on to the projects.

Houston, we have a Problem

The title of this piece, the famous Apollo 13 quote, was used due to the subject’s t-shirt which said “Astronaut” on the front. My friend Brad volunteered for this shoot. The group of designers and illustrators that I hung out with in college were always happy to help out and model for reference photos, production shoots, and whatever else we came up with. In fact, I was in New York recently and saw an illustration I posed for on another friend’s refrigerator; I believe I was the Tooth Fairy in that illustration…. Anyway…. We sat up and shot this all at once.  The gun photo was obviously shot separately (I don’t like pointing guns at people). In the background are excerpts from the Unabomber Manifesto with specific words set off in a darker color.

Taking your Last Breath & Self Control

Taking your Last Breath contains a shot of me in a shirt and tie. The other half of this diptych has a portrait of Scott Kaufman (not displayed here). We played with the contrast of the dark tie on white shirts and liked the way it turned us into “lollipops”. Superimposed  on the body is a set of lungs with the title of the piece below, with a somber woman looming behind.

Self Control turned out to be a “prototype” of sorts for an album I would release later in the year under the same title. The print shows a woman’s hand drenched in blood as the heart of a desperate man had been ripped out. …Nuff said.

I hope you enjoyed seeing the process and ideas behind these new pieces. Dragging the screen out of storage and revisiting these have given me another itch to start producing prints again.  I think it’s time to do some posters!

Do you have prints you’d be interested in showing or trading?  Do you have more information for DIY screen printing? Please share with me, others and please comment below. Also: retweet, retweet, retweet! Thanks!

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2 Responses to “Three New Prints Added this Week – Serigraphs”

  1. Joe Wilper says, or rather, writes:

    I totally forgot about this class as well. Brings back some memories.

  2. scott says, or rather, writes:

    Holy damn. I forgot how much I love these prints. In fact, I forgot about “Houston, We Have a Problem” entirely. These are as wonderful as the day we pulled the squeegee.

    UNFORTUNATELY, I have absolutely no idea where the companion pieces (i.e. mine) are. It really saddens me. I think Joe and/or Spring may have a copy. I’ll have to check with them. If they do, we should reunite the pieces.

    Also, I’m very interested in owning a copy of all of these. Trade? Sell? You name it.

    Finally, I was in NYC this past weekend to visit Spring and Matt (and to see a show at the Bowery). I can’t believe she still has the magnets. For the record, Trent-as-Tooth-Fairy is still one of my favorite drawings.

    I look forward to seeing more prints and reading future blogs.