This has been a long time coming.
Long time readers might recall that I took a screenprinting class at The University of the Arts way back in 2009. This class was taught by Greg Pizzoli, and got me all fired up to do a lot of this kind of thing. Class ended, Everything Goes began, the kids turned into time-sucking teenagers, I hit a creative funk, new books came along, Tinyville Town begun… and I never got around to getting this together. In the meantime, I bought a crappy old exposure unit that sat in my studio here collecting dust for a year before I gave it away to a punk band, my box of Speedball inks waited patiently on my shelf, and I kept telling myself that I’d get back to this, eventually.
At the end of last year, I invested some bucks into a nice new Ryonet exposure unit and a bunch of appropriate chemicals (screen reclaimer, ink wash, emulsion, and some other stuff). Six months later, I began to worry that this was going to sit here forever, as well.
Then, two weeks ago, my friend Michael stopped by for lunch. Michael is pretty handy and has kind of a “just get it done” attitude, so I decided to hold him hostage for the afternoon and see if he’d spend some time helping me put my printing table together. I had an enormous piece of plywood with a couple of hinges screwed down. All I needed to do, I thought, was just cut the thing down to size. We did this, but we didn’t stop there. We re-fastened the hinges with bolts rather than screws. We even decided to cover the plywood with some laminate I’d bought a couple of years ago but never got around to gluing down. In two hours, the table was done and I was inspired.
It only takes that first domino to fall, right? In the next two weeks, I built a screen-drying box, covered the closet window to make that room the dark room. I ordered some nice industrial legs for one of my tables and with my kids’ help I put that thing together. Then, earlier this week, my daughter and I coated a couple of screens with emulsion and ran step-tests with the exposure unit. Once I knew that two minutes and fifteen seconds was the magic number, I burned a screen yesterday afternoon and was beside myself when it washed out perfectly. That meant that today was printing day.
The illustration is one I made a few years ago that I always thought would be a good print. This was playing it safe, today, as it’s merely one-color on colored paper. I had a nice purple ink from the class back in 2009, and I’d ordered some Lemon Drop 100lb cover from French Paper. The image isn’t exactly child-friendly, but future prints will be, at times.
The print run is an edition of 25, ten of which I’m selling in my Etsy store. The others I’m saving, and giving a few away as gifts to some people who have inspired this stuff.
This is a little late. But better that than the never other, right?
Screen printing class wrapped up back on December 8. For my last project I printed a four-color race car inspired by the collages I made back last January. I’d been working on the art for this for a while and knew it was going to be a real bear of a project. The bat-boy and the robots were just sitting there in my head and were really easy to conceive and make. The race car was going to be more difficult and more complicated.
I’m just going to post a bunch of pictures here of sketches and stopped starts, and then the final print, with captions explaining what’s going on.
This is the line-drawing I made as the basis for the digital separations. It gets down the basic shape of the car. Even though I know that the final printed version will look quite different from what I'm drawing, it's for some reason important to me to have an actual finished drawing rather than merely a series of pieces that I'll put together digitally. Typically there are little details in the drawing that I would not have planned for otherwise.
I played around with channels in Photoshop, just to begin wrapping my head around four colors and how they would interact with each other. The screen print would be made with four colors, but when one color overlaps another color a new color is made. For instance, when the red overlaps the blue you get purple...
Using a pencil sketch I made earlier, I added colors hoping to get an idea of where I was going with this. Sometimes I know exactly what I want something I'm making to look like, and sometimes it's more of an adventure. When I'm working with a process or medium I'm less familiar with, adventure reigns supreme.
Using the line drawing I created a version in Photoshop that looked more suitable for printing. Few, if any, outlines, flat colors... I didn't like the way the driver in the line drawing looked so I made a new one. I knew I wanted to make this car with some kind of French theme. Each of my drivers has his or her own back-story, and I thought a French Nascar racer would have a funny one. The name of the driver on the door comes from the fact that the New Year's Eve is St Sylvestre's day in France.
This is another version of the above image. The first one I made to look a lot like the collages I made earlier in the year. This one I used a solid yellow background which I think works much better for this print. I planned to have that big voice balloon but abandoned it later
I was still having trouble getting the details of this car right the week I had to start printing it. I'd been creating all my comps in Photoshop, but wasn't happy with where a lot of it was going. I tried opening up Illustrator, which I almost never use in my normal illustration work, and began putting colors and shapes down. The big benefit here was getting the numerals and the shape of the flame decal down.
To explain the idea of separations and the print process a little more, this is the above image in Illustrator split into two. The one on the left represents the yellow and green colors, the one on the right represents the reddish-orange and the blue. You can see where the reddish-orange and the blue overlap a darker color is produced.
This is the final color comp for the print. It was from this high-resolution Photoshop file that I printed my four separations on transparent film using my ink-jet printer, then used those to burn the screens.
This is the print after two colors are down.
The final cut print.
I’m selling the print on Etsy for $30.
Since the class ended, I’ve built a table-top with clamps and taken delivery on a bunch of other pieces of equipment necessary for printing in my own studio. I plan to print up cards and posters, for starters. That being said, if you’ve got something like a band or a festival or a show of some kind and you want a poster to promote it, get in touch. Here are some pictures of the studio and the holiday cards I printed therein.