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All about silkscreen printing

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What is silkscreen printing?

Also known as silk-screening or serigraphy, silkscreen printing involves using a tightly-stretched mesh or screen (hence the name!).

The first step is to mount the silkscreens over your chosen canvas, with a separate screen for each colour. Once the screens or stencils are in place, artists roll, press, sponge or squeegee their ink or paint over the silkscreens to leave a design.

Other materials – including polyester mesh, nylon threads and even stainless steel – can be used in the process. Different types of mesh size will determine the outcome and look of the finished piece.

Where does the technique come from?

Silkscreens are believed to have originated in China as far back as 1000 years ago. The technique was introduced to Western Europe by Asia in the late 18th century, but was not widely used until silk mesh became easier to get hold of.  

In the 20th century, Pop Art pioneers like Andy Warhol and James Francis Gill brought silkscreens to the forefront of contemporary art. Before this time, screenprinting techniques had been considered trade secrets and were kept confidential. Many regarded the art form with scepticism, as the reliance on a machine questioned the typical view of art creation as direct contact between the artist and medium. 

Today, it is an important technique that is used by artists all over the world. 

JAMES GILL   CHESTER
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What makes it so special?

An artform in its own right, it is a painstaking process that is completed by highly-skilled craftsmen and can take months. As it’s done by hand, each piece is unique. After isolating the colour, the chromist hand-mixes the colour by sight to match the original – unlike giclée printing, which can be manipulated digitally. The ink in silkscreen printing is also often thicker, resulting in more vibrant colours.

Along with James Francis Gill, some of our other popular artists – including Bob DylanSimon Claridge, Paul Stephenson and Billy Schenck – have used the silkscreen process to enhance their work.

From the blog

As featured in GQ! The New West by Billy Schenck

07/12/2018

Bestselling men’s magazine GQ highlights the Spaghetti Western inspired collection in their new issue. The silkscreen prints are available online and in galleries from today.

AVAILABLE NOW: The Return of James Francis Gill

15/04/2019

Counting Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Indiana amongst his peers, the notoriously-elusive artist has returned to the forefront of modern art with his stunning new collection of serigraphs.

Pre-order the new 'Train Tracks' graphic by Bob Dylan

15/08/2019

In an exciting world-first from Bob Dylan, we are soon to launch an iconic 'Train Tracks' graphic in landscape presentation, breaking away from the established portrait form.

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