Friday, 3 August 2012

No Direction Home

Due to the success of the End of the Road festival (an annual music event which leans more towards the contemporary folk end of the spectrum) the organisers saw fit to create a new summer attraction in the shape of No Direction Home.

Musically, the festival takes cues from the folk and Americana revivalist scene, this small festival (set in the grounds of Welbeck Abbey, Nottinghamshire) attempts to bring a wealth of activities and music to a family orientated weekend.

No Direction Home Festival from End of the Road Films on Vimeo.

I was kindly selected by the organisers to design and screen-print a poster for the event and having already seen the lineup (including favourites of mine; The Low Anthem, Dirty Three and Lanterns on the Lake) I was more than happy to contribute a print which would be sold at the festival and online afterwards.

After a lot of false starts with the design, I settled on the above image which works as a collage of activities that will be taking place at the festival. The birds were mainly included as a reference to the festival's design aesthetic and also, birds are cool!

Here is an initial concept draft for the final poster and you can see the light grey circle, which I used as a template to keep all the elements in order.

Here are the 3 transparencies for the screen-print, which were printed off in small sections and then assembled using tape. This made the process feel much more hands on and organic.

Here is the first screen with the images burnt onto the mesh.

The pink / red paint is pulled over the mesh using a squeegee, pressing the ink through onto the paper below.

And here is the first colour on the paper.

Here are the posters with the first colour having been printed, drying on the racks.

The second screen is locked in place and the process is repeated.

This picture shows the blue paint, having been pulled across the screen.

A photo from underneath the screen.

In this picture, you can see two pieces of paper where the top left corner of the poster is. This is for registration purposes and ensures that every time I put the paper down on the screen-bed I know that when the second colour is 'pulled' it will line up perfectly with the first colour.

Onto the third and final screen. Here is a picture of the screen, locked in the bed.

The third colour has now been 'pulled' through the mesh and the paint is transferred onto the paper. And by the looks of things, it's looking good.

Here are the posters, drying on the racks waiting to be cropped and then signed and numbered.

Here is the final poster, which has been cropped to fit perfectly in a square frame from the Ikea 'Ribba' series. I considered this when designing the poster, that people would like something that they could frame cheaply and easily.

I hope thats given you an insight into how the poster was designed and printed. In addition to this process blog, I thought it would be insightful to include a small essay which was sent to me by a very talented freelance writer named Janine Redding, detailing the history of screen-printing.

Screen Printing: A Brief History

Whilst some members of the artistic community that are deeply involved with screen printing will be the first to swear that it is a “timeless” method of producing art/copies/what have you, there might equally be those that would be surprised to learn that – at least as far as the overall process of printing goes – screen-printing is a *relatively* young concept, having really only been popularised to a great extent in the last hundred years or so.

An interesting point to mention would be that screen printing as a whole has remained relatively faithful to the original/early technology that was employed since day one, chiefly the woven mesh/stencil tech. Naturally, certainly aspects have changed with time (a good example being the move from silk mesh to polyester), but screen printing has by and large remained delightfully free of the awkward need for the biggest monitors, fastest CPUs, the best broadband technology race that has so effected other areas of artistry (or indeed that has permeated life in general).

The First Appearance – Traversing the Globe

Technically, screen printing’s actual first appearance in the history books would have been way back around the time of China’s Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD), in which it was scant more than a variation on a stencilling technique. Of course, this method flourished all over Asia and improved as the centuries rolled by; however, it wasn’t until around five hundred years later that it found its way to Europe/the West via trade routes and travellers.

Yet even at this proverbially late stage in the game, screen printing was still yet to take off in Europe, largely due to the fact that the requisite silk mesh was hard to come by, due to the limited number of them available by trade. This would have in turn driven up the price of the aforementioned screens, so a more profitable use for the process needed to be found – or even just a barely profitable usage, seeing as how screen printing was a fairly novel technology at the time, with not many commercial uses (in Europe, at least) found for it yet.

Widespread Use

Fast-forward to the early 20th century, where photography, printers, and photo-reactive chemical processes were all the rage. A trio of developers (Charles Peter, Roy Beck, and Edward Owens) would be largely responsible for furthering the commercial use (or at least the idea that it could be used commercially) of screen printing, via their experimentation with various chemicals to produce photo-reactive stencils (a method/idea which would – even then – take some time to find acceptance amongst the community), albeit these chemicals would prove to be somewhat toxic and dangerous, a problem which has – fortunately – been resolved for a good while now.

The 1930s would see the founding of the National Serigraphic Society (“seri” from the Latin for “silk”, a reference to the mesh used in the process) and screen printing was a veritable force in motion for both artistic communities and with great industrial printing applications.

Recent History and Pop Culture

An early adopter of the screen-printing-as-art philosophy was American artist and pop-culture icon Andy Warhol, particularly the numerous images of a screen-printed Marilyn Monroe. This rise and subsequent popularity of the both the artist Warhol and the screen printing method he employed would see a boom befall the screen printing industry and one that would continue on apace and is still a viable avenue of artistry to this day.

Arguably, perhaps one of the chief reasons that screen printing was and has remained such a popular mode of art, is because the materials required for basic screen printing are relatively cheap and easily available these days. Thanks in part to this, screen printing has become iconic, with its “non-professional” guise and seeming simplicity and has seen it grace everything from posters, to album covers, to shirts, to everywhere. Its prevalence is such that the Printers’ National Environmental Assistance Center has stated that screen printing is perhaps the “most versatile of all printing processes”.

If past advancements and recent years/decades are any indication, then screen printing and the implications it may have (particularly as a medium for art) can only see further improvement and increased interest – no doubt culminating in many an intriguing work of art for many moons to come.


Woven Wire Mesh said...

Great screen prints, they look really good.

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