Screenprint – also known as ‘silkscreen’ due to screens initially being made of silk – is most famed for the smooth, graphic shapes and flat colours it achieves.
The medium, although dating back more than 900 years to the Song dynasty in China, rose to prominence during the Pop Art movement of the 1950s. It has since become ubiquitous within contemporary culture, used to print movie posters, T-shirts, vinyls and extensively in advertising.
Screenprint is incredibly versatile, with many artists deploying it to create all types of painterly effects, in both figurative and abstract works. The technique is essentially a stencil print using a screen made from fabric stretched tightly over a frame.
A stencil may be achieved by painting on glue or lacquer, by applying adhesive film or paper, or by painting a light-sensitive polymer emulsion onto the screen, which is then developed as a photograph (known as a photo-screenprint).
Ink or paint is forced through the non-blocked areas of fabric mesh with a rubber blade – a squeegee – on to the paper below. Unlike most printing processes, which use oil-based inks, screenprint is done with acrylic, which is plastic based, and has a distinctive, bright look.