Screen Printing

We have fantastic facilities and technicians here at UCLan to help us create designs and artwork which in the outside world would: a) leave us to figure things out alone, and b) cost a truckload of cash. The ability to produce finished, crafted prints cannot be underestimated in a world of portfolios full to the brim with PSD mockups; but lacking in actual, physical print.

The process of screen printing is a simple one. You create a stencil (in effect) on a silk screen, then push ink through it onto paper, or material, or other substrate (perspex, timber and metal have been done - speak to the technicians to see what's possible). One colour of ink is pushed through at a time, but your design may be more than one colour so you can build up in layers, or you can print in CMYK. In fact, colour is a big part of the process as the vibrancy you can achieve when printing with ink cannot be matched by any laser or inkjet printer.

The Process

Having not produced a piece of print with my own hands since I was at college 20 years ago, I recently took up the option of an induction into screenprinting. In terms of the process, the first thing to do is create your artwork. For my induction I designed a landscape poster for my son’s wall which used two colours. It’s important to note that you will need registration marks for any design where you want things to line up. Also, as you create your artwork, remember that wherever there is black on your design, this is where the ink will pass through. (I got that the wrong way around on my first attempt.)

Below are the two layers I designed, and finally what I intended the outcome to be.

Light blue layer

Light blue layer

dark blue layer

dark blue layer

the intended outcome

the intended outcome

The designs were created in both Illustrator and Photoshop, before being saved as bitmap .tif files and finally exported as a PDF through InDesign. The designs have to be in black only, because when printed onto acetate or trace, they are used to create the stencil on your screen. This is done by exposing light through your prints onto the silk screen which is coated with photosensitive emulsion. Where the light hits the emulsion it is hardened (so ink will not be able to pass through), and where the light is blocked (the black areas of your design) the emulsion remains soft and can be washed off. This the leaves the clear area where ink will be pressed through the screen.

Rest assured, the technicians can explain this in much more detail.

Once the designs were exposed they looked like the below. Two designs were exposed onto one screen, so you don’t have to make a new screen for every layer. The dark green areas are where the emulsion has hardened onto the screen (i.e. the light has hardened the emulsion), the yellow areas are where the ink will pass through.

The silk screen, ready to print

The silk screen, ready to print

With the screen ready, it was time to print. With multiple designs on one screen, the areas where I didn’t want ink to go (i.e. the second layer) were covered over with brown tape and acetate. Firstly, I registered the card I was printing on by using the black print used to create the screen itself. When registered, the first layer was then printed in cobalt blue.

Registration

Registration

ink, lovely ink

ink, lovely ink

ink, loaded

ink, loaded

ink, printed

ink, printed

With the first layer printed, the screen was then washed down and the first design was then taped up ready for printing the dark blue layer. The dark blue was mixed using roughly half cobalt blue and half black. (Mixing colours is fun.)

dark blue, printed

dark blue, printed

Registration was a bit tricky, but the prints that were slightly out somehow have a bit of charm that a digital process would likely dilute. A few details of this shown below.

out by a whisker

out by a whisker

out by several whiskers

out by several whiskers

Not too far off

Not too far off

The overall effect

The overall effect

And that was that. I only scratched the surface of what’s achievable. Especially when you consider what screen printing might be like when combined with other techniques available, eg laser cutting, letter press, etc. But the most important parts of the process were sharing my thoughts and ideas with the printmaking staff so they could advise me along each step of the way to help me get the result I wanted, which is below. I’m happy, let’s hope Wilfred likes it.

final print

final print

Finally, a big thanks to Jane and Nick in printmaking for all their help, go and see them!

Below the Surface

Hear ye, the latest from The Disseminator’s fount of knowledge (via Dom via The Partners aka Superunion).

The linked website is an ephemera festival. It features the objects found in the Amstel River whilst it was being excavated to build a new train line. Everything found has been logged, photographed and grouped into a huge archive.

Amazingly, all the objects have been placed in date order as well. You can peruse the archive and also the images are available to collage and experiment with.

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Letterform Archive

A fantastic resource discovered by Pete, Letterform Archive is a nonprofit center for inspiration, education, publishing, and community. Basically, an online archive of type, with a search function as simple (and powerful) as sites we know like designspiration.

search functionality

search functionality

It requires a membership, but priced at $2.50/month for students is well worth it for the vast archives that can be accessed.

 

We hold physical and digital artifacts in a variety of formats, including books, periodicals, posters, sketches, original art for reproduction, and related ephemera, as well as a robust reference library. Together, these works chronicle the history of written communication, from the invention of writing and medieval manuscripts to modernism, the age of print to the present explosion of digital type. See a sampling.

The Archive doubled its holdings in 2015 by acquiring the typeface specimen collection of the late Dutch publisher Jan Tholenaar. Recently donated archives include Emigre, pioneers of experimental digital design; Ross F. George, author of the Speedball textbooks; and Aaron Marcus, a seminal figure in computer graphics. Also featured prominently in the collection are Rudolf Koch, Jack Stauffacher, Irma Boom, and Piet Zwart.

 
Type books, lots of lovely type books

Type books, lots of lovely type books

Brain Pickings: a really good website

Brain Pickings is a site I’ve recently come across. It requires time and inclination, but it has a depth which is necessary to discuss some topics that are in and around what we do. These include art, writing and illustration but also self-critique, responsibility and beyond. The articles are interesting, accessible and well researched. It’s a great place to go on the internet that is thoughtful, calm and ultimately useful.

My name is Maria Popova. I am a reader and writer, and I write about what I read here on Brain Pickings — my one-woman labor of love. Drawn from my extended marginalia on the search for meaning across literature, science, art, philosophy, and the various other tentacles of human thought is a record of my own becoming as a person — intellectually, creatively, spiritually — and an inquiry into what it means to live a good life.

I have previously thought in words for The New York TimesWired UK, The Atlantic, and Harvard’s Nieman Reports, among others, and am the author of a very long book titled Figuring.

Founded in 2006 as a weekly email that went out to seven friends and eventually brought online, the site was included in the Library of Congress permanent web archive in 2012. Here are some reflections on my most important learnings from the first decade of Brain Pickings.

Good book, great advice

wise words.jpg

With record numbers of design and advertising students graduating into the job market each year, it makes more sense now than ever before to be fully armed to succeed. This book helps new designers make the transition from design school to work, giving them the ammunition they need for a successful start.


Here the reader will learn how to get that all-important first job, and how to impress their new employer. They will also have at their fingertips plenty of useful, practical information essential to know in the design studio and when working for clients. Enriched with quotes and advice from some of the best and brightest in the industry, this book is where you will find out what they didn't teach you in design school.

LogoArchive

A snapshot of the delights within

A snapshot of the delights within

A fantastic resource for all students of graphic design. LogoArchive has been created by designer and design-reviewer Richard Baird who also runs the excellent website BP&O (Branding, Packaging & Opinion). He describes the LogoArchive as: A study of form language in logo design. A recovery, research & restoration project by Rich Baird, BP&O.

Follow him on Instagram.

And on twitter.

Lost & Foundry

A very interesting type project, preserving the characteristics of typefaces which could be forever forgotten.

But the most important project is that all proceeds go to The House of St. Barnabas, a social enterprise and members club in Soho, London. They are a charity who work to lift people out of homeless and into employment.

The fonts can be purchased from from their website lostandfoundry.org.uk or directly via Fontsmith.com.

Many thanks to Simon Warden & Jason Smith, Creative Directors of Lost & Foundry who have been in touch to update our original post.

 

Lost & Foundry is a unique collection of 7 typefaces based on the disappearing signs of Soho, these are at risk of being lost forever due to the ever changing landscape of the area. By re-imaging the signage as complete fonts, we have rescued this rich visual history from the streets and present the typefaces into a contemporary context for a bright optimistic future.

 
james.PNG

Netflix Original: Abstract

If you've not already seen it, add Abstract to your list on Netflix. It features one of - if not the - best graphic designers in the world, Paula Scher, plus recently noted illustrator Christoph Niemann amongst its 8 episodes.

The series helps you understand the mechanics of a designer's mind, as well as bringing to light the massive impact design has on everyday life. Enjoy.