I love a before-and-after comparison. Perhaps it’s something to do with a sense of development, of change. Perhaps it’s like the sense of progress that a gardener gets when they review the growth their plants have made.
And with this progression from blank sheet to first colour separation to second colour separation, there’s something extra with a screenprint – there’s a sense of fulfilment, of becoming what you had the potential to become.
Anyway, to celebrate this evolution, here’s a series of photo combinations showing how the screenprint develops – how the ink is layered.
Here’s it’s after the printing of the red layer and before the application of the black ink.
I’m also enjoying the use of the character’s name as an important part of the screenprint’s composition. I’m planning more. Watch this space.
… and of course, to buy and for further details of my screenprints, go to https://thecomicartwebsite.com/…/prod…/oor-wullie-celebrates
PRINTING IN A PANDEMIC
There has been one silver lining in this pandemic: I have developed the ability to work at home. Not just the printing but the whole process, including screen creation.
This is a bit of a revolution – it has reduced costs and turnaround times because I don’t have to book a commercial studio to make my screens.
I earn a living printing screenprints of classic comic characters – from Dennis the Menace to Asterix via Scottish favourite Oor Wullie and American veteran Popeye.
I have licences from publishers to use their images in my work which I then select and reposition (editing a panel or detail which works on its own, simpifying, re-colouring, and printing many times original size, that sort of thing).
The printing part is relatively easy: some years ago I swapped the commercial studio’s purpose-built suction bed for a large flat chipboard and a couple of hinge clamps.
In the olden days, when access to commercial screenprinting studios was possible, the screens would have been screwed into weighted and sprung frames. And there was what I thought of as an invaluable plus: a vacuum suction to keep the print to the bed after you’ve applied the ink. But a bit of mounting spray works just as well, it turns out.
Instead of a washing trough, I now use a bucket and lots of newspapers. Slower, but it still works.
However, to make screenprints you need screens. And to make these usually involves a lot of large, expensive equipment: those washing troughs to clean the screens of the previous stencils with cleaning chemicals and a pressure washer, a large ultra-violet light bed and a light-tight drying rack. So I have slowly accumuled these chemicals and bits of kit. This was not as easy as it would have been before the virus … but it was still just about possible. And I think I’m nearly there.
The screen-cleaning part is complete – the chemicals have arrived, the blaster bought and is now attached (thanks to an extension hose, attachment parts for the bathroom tap and a sturdy Jubilee clip which all had to be sourced from the internet bit by bit as the need for them was discovered).
Then came the tricky part – how to coat the screens in light-sensitive emulsion, dry them in total darkness and re-expose them to new colour-separation templates under the ultra violet light.
I’ve bought a halogen lamp, taken off the glass front (which acts to filter out the UV) and it works!
I had to fix a board to the bathroom window to block out the light, then attached the Hallogen lamp to an estate agent’s board post, lay this diagonally across the bathroom and experimented with ideal exposure times.
After a few months of practice, I’m now well in the swing of things – I’m even printing my largest size, which is 76cms x 58cms. See my range at www.thecomicartwebsite.com. Further prints will be shared here so watch this space.John Patrick Reynolds
John Patrick Reynolds
Comic Art screenprints