Each hand-made print is an original work of art and not a copy.
A print that copies another work of art, especially a painting, is known as a reproduction print.
There are numerous printmaking techniques, such as woodcut, lino, etching etc. however I mostly favour screenprinting techniques, which I’ve mastered over 3 decades.
The simplest approach uses hand-cut and torn paper stencils. For me, the most endearing characteristics of this process are the rich and vibrant planes of colour and the sharp-edged graphic shapes you’re able to achieve by cutting with a craft knife..
A screen is a frame, over which a mesh is tightly stretched. Areas of the mesh are blocked with a stencil and then a squeegee (rubber blade) is used to pull ink through the unblocked areas.
There are many types of stencils, including hand-drawn and photographic, although my preference is cut paper. This type of stencil has a limited life, and therefore editions of prints are always small. The paper stencil is hand-cut like a doily and attached to the back of the screen.
The screen is placed on top of a piece of dry paper. Ink is placed on top of the screen, and a squeegee is used to spread the ink evenly across the screen. The ink passes through the open spaces in the screen onto the paper below; then the screen is lifted away. The screen can be re-used after removing the stencil and cleaning.
If more than one colour is being printed on the same surface, the ink is allowed to dry and then the process is repeated with another screen and different coloured ink thus producing a multi-layered print.
I love to experiment, test the traditional rules of layering colour, often printing dark to light.
There are a wide variety of inks available for screenprinting, some of them very specialised for printing onto glass, plastics, fabrics etc. I always use water-based ink, which is non-soluble when dry but clears up easily with water before drying occurs. The inks consist of pigment plus medium and it is possible to mix a completely opaque ink or one that is very transparent. These inks are very safe to use and have good archival characteristics.
The earliest form of screenprinting was simple stencilling, most notably the Japanese ‘katazome’
The modern screenprinting process originated from patents taken out in the early 1900s in England. The idea was then adopted in the USA and in 1914 multi-colour prints were created.
During the First World War, screenprinting was used as an industrial process for printing flags and banners. The use of photographic stencils at this time further increased the versatility of the process and encouraged its widespread use.
During the 1930s many American artists began making artworks in screenprint and by the end of that decade, the term ‘serigraph’ was devised to distinguish artists’ prints from commercial prints.
During the 1960s screenprints came into greater prominence, particularly due to the Pop Art movement. Pop artists were attracted to their bold areas of unmodulated colour, their flat surfaces and their general commercial look.
Many of Andy Warhol's most famous works were created using the technique.