Adventures in Screen Printing
July 1, 2021
When you get dressed in the morning, have you ever wondered who designed the cool graphic on your shirt? How was the shirt made? How was it designed? The fun visuals, cartoon characters, creative logos, slogans - a lot of it is done by screen printing. Screen printing is the process of ink being pressed through a stenciled mesh screen and transferred onto a flat surface to create a printed design. The technique has been around for hundreds of years and is used by a wide range of industries for a wide range of purposes. Apart from creating clothing designs, screen printing can be used for poster printing and artwork on canvases, paper, wood, or even metal. Although this process is not an exact science, screen printing is a complex art form that requires attention to detail, patience, and most importantly, creativity.
Maxi Dominguez, the founder of the creative platform La Rosa Collective, inspired creativity in teens at a screen printing workshop held at the Scott Family Amazeum. During this workshop, Dominguez emphasized the importance of imagination during the design aspect of the screen printing process. I joined a group of teens in the workshop with Maxi and was introduced to Inkscape, a free graphics software, to create our own designs. We discovered how to use basic tools, build on ideas, and expand our boundaries as artists and creators with no limitations.
I’ve always loved painting, drawing, collaging, arts and crafts, and a plethora of other mediums to channel my artistic mindset.
After some time was spent exploring Inkscape and its possibilities, Dominguez walked through the actual process of screen printing. He demonstrated how to prepare the mesh screen and with the help of a volunteer, coated the screen in a light-sensitive emulsion. The design was laid onto the screen and exposed to a bright light, which hardened the emulsion. After about twenty minutes, the screen was rinsed, dried, and ready for use.
Lastly, we got a little taste of the screen printing world for ourselves. Using previously made stencils, we screen printed on blank tote bags using professional-grade printing presses, ink, and squeegees. During this part of the process, the tote bag was laid underneath the screen and flat on the printing board. Once the screen was lowered on top of the board, the squeegee was used to pull ink from the top end of the screen to the bottom end of the screen. This imprinted the design onto the tote bag. The tote bag was then dried and the process was repeated until the desired design was achieved. We printed shapes, logos, and slogans to design our own abstract creation.
Art has been a big part of my life since I was a kid. I’ve always loved painting, drawing, collaging, arts and crafts, and a plethora of other mediums to channel my artistic mindset. However, screen printing and graphic design were art forms I had very little exposure to before. It was such a unique experience to get to utilize my artistic capabilities in a way I had never done before. Now that I’ve had a little experience post this workshop, I will definitely be jumping at the next opportunity to explore more of the digital art and design field.
As I participated in this screen printing workshop at the Amazeum, I learned the importance of thinking outside the box, paying attention to details, and letting my creative juices flow. Ultimately, the most essential part of graphic design and screen printing is to have fun and see where your imagination takes you. With little to no limits, the possibilities are endless.