The history behind why Urban Art uses screen printing to showcase spectacular work
Updated: Sep 21, 2020
Screen printing is an ancient art form. An early version of the technique was first pioneered in China, around AD 950, as a method of printing patterns onto fabric. Several centuries later, Japanese artisans adopted the practice to transfer designs onto paper and fabric, using a stiff brush to push ink through a mesh screen woven from human hair.
Screen printing arrived in Europe in the 18th century, but it was slow to catch on as a fabric printing method owing to the high cost of silk mesh at the time. Once the Silk Road made imported silk more affordable, screen printing gradually became a popular — and profitable — way to print fabric. By the early 20th century, printers had developed photo-sensitised emulsions, allowing artisans to create complex stencil designs much more easily.
In the 1930s, artists began experimenting with screen printing as an artistic medium, naming their new-found form 'serigraphy' to distinguish it from industrial printing. By the 1960s, artists such as Eduardo Paolozzi and Andy Warhol were using screen printing to create fine art. Dubbed 'pop-art', the artist used screen-printing to create multiple copies of a single image, essentially questioning what constituted fine art. Warhol's famous Marilyn Diptych is perhaps the best-known example of screen printing as an artistic form.
Nowadays, screen printing is used both as an artistic medium and as a commercial printing process. One stencil can be used to reproduce the same design hundreds — or even thousands — of times, so it’s a brilliant technique for producing large orders of Urban Art at it’s best.
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