Work In Progress: Screen Printing Studio, Etc.

Washout Booth Under ConstructionAbove is a large part of my screen printing studio in progress. It’s a washout booth under construction and frankly, it’s been under construction for too long. I’ve had to take it apart a couple times due to design flaws and I’ve put it on the back burner to fix projects around the house.

Friends and family give me weird looks when I tell them I’m building a screen printing studio. They’ve heard the term before but have only a vague idea of what it is. I’m not going to explain it now, but you can Google it or watch some YouTube videos. I will tell you that I think it’s awesome. I don’t recall what first got me interested in screen printing, but I started lurking in the forums at Screen printing has been a popular way to make posters for rock concerts almost ever since there were rock concerts. Screen printing itself has origins in China going back some 800 years. My first attempt at screen printing was with a cheap Speedball kit. The attempt failed after I blew out the screen with a pressure washer. The fine folks at Gig Posters said, “Move to Chicago. Learn to print from Steve Walters.” So I did.

Steve Walters runs Screwball Press where he prints his jobs for clients and teaches newbs like me. Last I knew the deal was you pay some amount of money for the class and a year of membership in the co-op so that you can go back and print your stuff. Here’s what I printed up during my class:

Devil Bones Print

It’s not the best illustration in the world, but I’d been playing with these devil stick figures and needed something ready for my scheduled class. To my dismay, I screwed up during the registration process and of the 50 prints I made, only a handful turned out right. The next print went much better:

Firewheel Print

Don’t scratch your head for any deep meaning here, it’s just a design that I kind of liked. It’s based off of some drawings I was doing with Sharpie markers.

The third time was worse. Much worse. So much worse that I’m not going to share any of the outcome. The design had four colors and called for some pretty tight registration lines. It was also the first design I’d drawn completely in Illustrator. There were a number of problems along the way and when it was all said and done I’d spent about ten hours printing, twenty hours designing, and a good amount of money on ink and paper with nothing to show for it. And yet, I still wanted to screen print.

During my last attempt to print I was living in Aurora, IL and now that I live in DeKalb I’m even further away from Screwball. The big upside now is that I’m in a house and have a whole lot of room for screen printing studios and drum sets and easels and all sorts of creative toys. The big downside is that it’s my house and there’s lawn to mow and gutters to clean and all sorts of home improvements to be made (to give you an idea, the whole first year I lived in the basement so that I could remodel the main floor). On top of my house fixing and washout booth building, I still have a full time job I have to go to so sometimes progress is slow. My hope is that I’ll be screen printing some of my original designs later this year and if enough people like them I’d like to keep drawing and designing more things for more people.

If you would like to know more about the gig poster scene check out the documentary, Just Like Being There. Last I checked it was still available on Netflix.

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