If you have a keen eye and a sharp memory, you might remember that the previous post on my screen printing exploration featured Projects #1 and #2, and now I’m suddenly writing about #4 – what gives? Well, #3 was an assignment I really had a lot of fun with, for reasons I’ll talk about later, but first I wanted to discuss Project #4.. and the fact that I’m no longer going to class.
This assignment was two-fold: create a two-color “gig” poster and then create a variation for t-shirts. I took me a while, as I tried to come up with something upcoming that I could promote, but I finally settled on an idea to just advertise Out of the Box with a generic “Wednesdays on MarkMushakian.com” event date. It wasn’t exactly what the teacher was after, but I didn’t think he’d care about that minor detail (I was right). So, I spent an evening piecing together the image in Photoshop, and brought the completed file into class on a USB drive. For a two-color print, you need to create two different screens (each painting the area for a single color), so I had my Photoshop file prepped with two layers all ready to go. Exposing screens using the computer process, as opposed to the hand-cut process I did with Project #2, is the same.. the only difference is that we use a printer to create the image instead of a special hand-cut rubylith. So, I printed out my two, overlapping images (one for red, one for black), and exposed the screens. There were only a few other people in class that day, and I was the only one printing, so it was nice and relaxing.. until I started to print ;).
Actually, to be honest, even though my prints failed me, it was still a pretty fun and relaxing day: the teacher was in there, printing with me and another guy who was doing t-shirts, just talking and hanging out. So, what’s that about failed prints? Well, the image at the top of this post is an example of the worst print I did… but even the best isn’t that great. There were two problems with my process that day. The first, I didn’t actually notice until I was done with a small stack of what the teacher suggested could be “practice” rounds, but the printer cut off part of the image on the right side. That was entirely my fault for not catching it from the beginning, but that was an easy enough fix (time-consuming, in that I had to redo my screens, but easy). The second problem was actually much more due to the screen printing process, itself. My squeegee pulls were decent enough, but I kept getting these big streaks of paint gooped through the large red space near the bottom. It stuck the paper to the screen after I lifted it, and as I pulled the paper off, it consistently left a mark – almost like a water stain. The print I did in the image above was actually one of my attempts to use less ink, hoping to avoid the big blobs, but you can see how well that worked :). Looking at the papers again, today, I’ve noticed all kinds of other little issues: random red marks where red shouldn’t have been, smudged outlines, etc..
Obviously, failure isn’t really FUN, but there were plenty of things learned from this particular process. Due to the amount of red ink concentrated on the bottom, my teacher suggested I should maybe use a screen with a higher thread count (allows for finer detail), and I discovered a quirk with the printer that wouldn’t line my image up correctly, so I learned things… but as I left that day, I started thinking about whether or not I wanted to continue this pursuit. I took this class to have some fun, and it never stopped being fun (unlike my acting class, which I have also stopped going to), but for my own interests, I feel like I’ve reached the limit of what I want to do with screen printing. I’ve always wanted to try it, and now I have. As I’ll talk about with Project #3, this class really sparked a creative interest, especially in physical mediums, so there’s no regrets here, at all :).
There are pros and cons to the screen printing process, as my teacher often talked about, and that’s why I wanted to write about this assignment before the one I did prior, since this is where the cons will come out. The whole process, for me, is interesting.. but, ultimately, unnecessary. Of course, there are uses for screen printing, but for my needs, I’d be much better served just going to Kinko’s and getting some prints made. The main reason I stopped going to class was that part of this assignment was to print t-shirts, but I didn’t really want to take the chance of wasting shirts on my experimentation. Wasting so much paper was bad enough, but even that I didn’t especially enjoy. If this was something I’d continue doing on my own, well I’d just go right ahead and practice away.. but I found it to be nothing more than a fun “let’s see what it’s like” adventure, and I just reached the threshold between interesting and wasteful. Plus, if I’m spending time to create something in Photoshop, why would I want to then print a sub par version of it? Printing with a screen takes a certain amount of preparation, and I’m glad I’ve spent a bit of time exploring that process.. I’ve just had my fill :).
If you ever have an interest in screen printing, I highly recommend signing up for a class with William “Willie” Baldwin at Saddleback – it was a lot of fun, and he’s a really cool guy. He asked to keep our best prints from Project #3, to scan them for the archives, so I’ll have to pick that up before writing here about screen printing a final time, but until then, I’ll leave you with a view of what my gig poster was supposed to look like. I really love the design, and I may end up making a few to hand out and share with people – I’ll just use a regular printer to do so ;).