“what is art?” Post #7 – Silkscreen Printing

Do you ever wonder how a design was printed on a shirt, poster, sign, etc.? Well I am here to inform you, it was most likely done by silk screen printing! *golf clap, golf clap*

Silkscreen printing is an art in which one creates a design and prints it onto an object with clean crisp precision, that you can’t get with painting, drawing, etc. It is a technique that uses the mesh of a silkscreen to print a design onto a surface. The design is transferred in areas where the silk is permeable compared to areas blocked off. 

In any type of printing, one must think of their design and how it can be created in layers. In contrast to painting, when printmaking you have to print colors in different layers and with different shapes. 

A common type of printmaking is relief printmaking also known as block printing. This is a form of printmaking in which the image being printed is carved out from a surface(linoleum, wood, etc.). The pieces of material that are removed are the parts that will not be printed and the pieces left will be printed. For this process, think of a stamp. If you look at the face of a stamp whatever will be printed is the raised surface. The face also displays the backward image of what you are printing. 

Although silkscreen printing relates to relief printing with its technique of layering designs to create a piece, it differs in process. The materials used in this process are a silkscreen, squeegee, emulsion scooper, harsh light, UV screen exposure light bulb, screen printing ink, emulsion, and a surface to print on. To put your design on the screen you must expose it on the screen. To expose your design you put a thin coat of emulsion on your screen and shine light onto areas of your screen you don’t want to be printed. Once the emulsion catches the screen you have to rinse out the areas you want to be printed and then your screen is ready to be used in the printing process. 

When pulling ink through your design, one must consider transparency/opaqueness. This affects how your design will be perceived by your audience. Furthermore, when using this process to print a design one must note that the steps for exposing and printing each layer is time-consuming but in the end is very rewarding.

The technique of silkscreen printing is not easy to learn but once it is practiced it can be a very useful skill to have. Silkscreen printing is a beautiful and remarkable type of art and to see some examples of well-known screen prints or screen printing companies around Michigan look below!




Check out Stamps alum Ron Watters business One Custom City in Detroit!!!


sophomore studying Art & Design looking to start a conversation this semester about what art is, what it may be, what it can be, etc., in hopes to expand people's knowledge on how art consumes our lives

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!