5 Steps to the Perfect Print

It's all in the preparation!!! Well - not all - it also relies upon hard work and a little bit of luck. Sometimes, no matter how perfect the prep, everything conspires against you and you just need to call it quits. But, we're not talking about those days today, but the times when it goes perfectly!

I am going to share with you my process, from that first drawing, through development, to creating the silkscreens, colour play and PRINT!

Step 1.

I Love drawing,

I absolutely adore drawing.

When I don't draw I can begin to feel a little cranky and on edge. I find the act of drawing really important for my sanity. I don't like computers, so I avoid them at all costs. And I am passionate about the physicality of printing and the process. I create everything laboriously by hand, because that is why I do what I do. It's what makes me happy.

This drawing was done one Monday morning when the sun was out and it was too nice to go home following the school run and work indoors. I grabbed my sketchbook and coffee and headed to the turquoise Bridge, next to Pooles Wharf and Rownham Mead, in Hotwells, Bristol. Sat by the harbour, I drew for over two hours with my fingerless gloves on and my day-glo insulated boots fighting away the cold!

Step 2: Developing the Drawing

If I create something I like, then I might look to develop it from my sketchbook into a hand pulled, silkscreen print. I start to think in colours and layers. For each colour you see on a silkscreen print, the artist has to create a separate layer for each colour. I like drawing (did I mention that?), so I tend to use pen and ink and trace my design onto mark resist. Mark resist is a special, translucent sheet material - smooth one side and rough the other. You draw on to the rough side.

Step 3: Playing with Colour

This is where I get to hold a rainbow in my hand, selecting different hues, testing them, checking the balance of the palette, making sure they sit nicely together and then I plan the order that I will print each colour onto Smerset satin (a special paper) and write a list, documenting the order to lay the colours.


Step 4: Making the Screen

Screen printing relies upon using a frame with a fine mesh pulled taught across one side. I tend to print with 120T mesh, which allows me to capture incredibly fine detail and controls the amount of ink that can be pushed through the mesh when printing.

I use a photographic process, so i need access to specialist kit - an exposure unit and vacuum bed, which can be seen in the photo. This enables me to create a negative from my drawing on mark resist (that special, transparent sheet).


Step 5: Playing with Print!


And finally, once I have exposed a screen for each colour in the design and mixed all of my inks, I am ready to print! I have a basic set up at home, but my favourite place to be is at Spike Print Studio, Bristol, where I can focus on my art and print to my hearts content on a print bed, like the one below.


I hope that this provides a little insight into what I do all day and how my work is created. Any questions, always feel free to get in touch on amy-aardvark@hotmail.co.uk

Sending hugs and hand soap, amy x