March 11th of this year, I received notice that I was selected to design a print for ARTCRANK, Chicago. ARTCRANK is a really fun show, and it was even more exciting that I was to be among some of our screen printing best.
At the time, I was settling into a groove with a new body of work. Printing a lot of onesies and twosies on canvas or vinyl. Large scale. Only super bright colors or black and white. I had only 2 edition style print runs to speak of from the previous six months.
|Rock For Kids Benefit @ The Empty Bottle|
Both of these editions were printed using index color separations with up to 8 screens each. Although I’m immersed in screen printing all day, every day at Sharprint, I’d only recently gotten back behind the squeegee, so these prints were labor intensive with a lot of room for error.
Print Approach & Technique
I approached the print for ARTCRANK differently than my most recent editions while remaining true to the current body of work. I wanted to design at the high end of my technical knowledge base while accommodating the lower end of my printing skill set.
If there’s one thing I won’t compromise, it’s tight registration. As much as a hairline of space between colors absolutely ruins it for me. Since I’d not been able to get the perfection I wanted with registration, I decided to design something that didn’t rely on tight registration.
While I made some things easier, I also set up a challenge for myself. I decided to use 55 line halftone dots instead of the tiny diamond shaped specks that form the bitmap composition evident in index separations. A challenge, indeed. I pulled back on my separation file 3 times before I was able to get prints that didn’t gain and fill in areas darker than 50%. Once I was able to maintain good detail in the dark areas, I was struggling to keep the detail in the lights from drying out. Long story short, I printed a lot of these to get an edition of 30.
Once I’d realized some guidelines for what I wanted to print, the design came together really easily. I love it when this happens.
When I look at the finished print, it brings back how I felt while making it. I remember expecting an early spring, but it was still really wintery and cold outside. I felt the confinement I do at the end of each winter. This came out in the small, square print with dark edges that keep the viewer inside. However, I can see the promise of spring too. There’s bright splashes of color breaking out of the grey. The cruiser bike is out. And BBQ beers.