I finished the billboard painting on friday night! and now I’m working on a screen print of the painting.
I thought I’d share some of the steps I go through to make a print. Pardon some of the blurry pics- it’s easier to take these pics with my phone than my xlr camera.
step 1. Figure out what your going to print! Woohoo, I already that know I’m going to recreate the billboard so in this step the real important part is doing the pre-press stuff to my image to help it along when we actually get to printing. It would take forever to share how that all works so suffice to say if you’re just starting out go with something simple.
step 2. Film positives. Every print in my studio starts with film positives. These days I use our laser printer and cheapo film transparencies I buy off the Internet. I usually print a full scale copy of the print in color so when i’m cutting and taping my film positives together I have something to match them up to.
Here we go. full size 16×20 with an image area of 14×18. that’s four sheets of regular paper taped together.
Step 3: Match up film positives, and this is why we do it this way. When we match up the film positives to each other and then we can match them to the template so make sure it’s the right lay out. Yes, it might be easier to have the film positives printed all on one large format printer but that would cost a lot more. Also, I would have to leave the house which I try to only do for chocolate and to pet other peoples cats.
Here’s the three blocks of colors placed over the template.
Here’s all of the film positives all placed out on my dirty table. blue layer for back ground. Three colors of zig zag shapes, the colors for the figure – beige, green, gray, and the black line layer last of all. Ooooohhh, an eight color print!@!!@
Yep, that’s how we roll over here crazy style.
step 4: Here’s my paper all cut, tabbed and racked and ready to print. I buy large sheets in bulk from xpedx and cut them down depending on what size I need.
What’s that? What the heck are those tabs you say? I know right? Who still uses those? Uhhhh….me. I swear i’m gonna buy a paper punch soon so all I’ll have to do is punch a few holes and i’ll be ready to go.
I know, I know- you want me to be using a vacuum table or just wing it with tape guides or some bullshit like that? Too bad, I learned it this way in art school and it works just fine for me. The day I start printing 100 gig posters is the day I’ll prolly buy a vacuum table….maybe…
So where were we, oh right ink.
step 5: Ink! oooh lookie- lot’s of inks! ohhh so pretty inks! Well, except for yellow that I’m out of, no yellow for me. But anyways, I use TW graphics inks and primarily I use their color concentrates. I go through base like it’s going out of style but the colors last ohhh…about 5-8 years. Crazy, awesome! I love the matte look of the inks from TW and I love being able to mix any color i want.
Here’s some tubs of color. The eight colors I need for this print to be more specific. I mixed them up on sunday so they are all ready to go. The outside color is not what is inside since I tend to remix each color for each project often starting with a previous color from a previous project. Because i’m just doing my own work and nothing commercial this helps my over all palette stay consistent and and becomes a unifying element of my work. See how I think of that – that’s what 30 grand in student loan debt will getcha’. “A uniform body of work”. Yeppers.
step 6: At the same time or the same day that you mix all of you color you gotta get those film positives burned onto a screen! Otherwise you got’s nothing to screen print. Here’s my exposure unit. It lives on wheels under my big work table. I pull it out when I need it and roll it back the rest of the time. I’ve had it for years- right now it looks all shiny because we recovered the lid earlier this year. Now it holds air real good! That big part is the lid, it lifts up and inside you put the film positive and screen on top of the big piece of glass. Flip the switch for the vacuum and all the air gets sucked out. This makes a tight register for the film positive and the screen when you turn on the super bright ultra violet fluorescent bulbs that expose the screen.
Here’s the screens after they have been exposed and the non exposed emulsion that was blocked by the film positives has been washed out. Some of my screens I’ve had for 5-8 years and they are still going strong. I had a few remeshed last year but that’s about it.
Here’s another screen I exposed with this super awesome guy wearing these super awesome goggles. He’s going on another print in the next few weeks but i just thought I’d give you a peek.
So that’s it for now, I’m sure I forgot to mention some details. Next up (prolly post on friday) we’ll be printing, cleaning up and doing the finish work on the print. I’m off to print some more today- so far I’ve finished three layers on the print and I’ve got five more to go by the end of today!