Why Silk Screening?

Some people have hobbies. I have obsessions. Lately one of my primary obsessions is silk screening, or more accurately, screen printing since the screens aren’t actually made of silk anymore. I’m actually a little surprised at this. For majority of my creative career I’ve had a passion for high-tech, always seeking out the newest, latest and greatest technology. With access to the IMRC Center, my access to high-tech increases exponentially, and yet my focus has been on a technology that dates back to China’s Song Dynasty in the 10th Century AD.

There are many reasons for my obsession. Although I’m incorporating 1,000 year old technology, I’m still designing on the computer, then using screen printing for my final output. The ancient technology actually extends the possibilities of what I can do on the computer. For all the capabilities of the latest technologies, we’re still bound by what the technology allows. In terms of printing, you can only print the range of colors your ink or toner cartridges allow, and only onto surfaces that fit into the printer without breaking it. Screen printing allows metallics, fluorescents, glow-in-the dark inks and more, and you can print onto cloth, cardboard, sandpaper, really any surface that’s flat enough and absorbant enough to allow it.

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Callithump! Box
White and metallic inks screen printed onto corrugated cardboard, from an image created in Illustrator and Photoshop.

Screen printing also returns something to the process that is often missing from digital creation. The computer offers such precise control that digital works can feel cold and inhuman. With silk screening there are so many variables that the end result is often more of a collaboration with the medium than an absolutely controlled process. Factors like the temperature of the room, the humidity in the air, the amount of pressure you pull the squeegee all effect the final output. This gives the final result an unpredictability and a liveliness that’s often missing in strictly digital processes.

There’s also the feeling of bringing things full-circle, tapping into ancient traditions while incorporating the latest technology. Throughout its 1,000+ year history, screen printing has covered the range from utility to fine art and back again. Access to the tools IMRC Center such as the laser cutter provides new possibilities for pushing the traditions even further.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]