All about silkscreens

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. 

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 DylanJames McQueen and Billy Connolly – have used the silkscreen process to enhance their work.

James McQueen's collection Non-Fiction, harnesses the alluring magic of old books evoked through a meticulous ink and silkscreen process. Watch him at work in our video below!

From the blog

The Return of James Francis Gill


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

Bob Dylan’s first Train Tracks silkscreen


Our specialist framing team was thrilled to get their hands on the first-ever silkscreen rendering of this classic image. Find out what made this edition so unique.

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