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Mixing it Up: Contemporary Screen Printing Artists to Look Out For

Mixing it Up: Contemporary Screen Printing Artists to Look Out For

Welcome to the August blog, Smart Art pals!

We are so excited to share this month’s box with you because, as you have already discovered, we are learning how to screen print! This is an amazing medium that you can truly adapt to suit your style and create beautiful pieces of hangable and even wearable art! this month

As with every month, we wanted to explore the medium a little more and get you really excited to create your own pieces for yourself. In our opinion, one of the best ways to find inspiration is to look and what other artists are creating. Luckily for us, there are some outstanding contemporary artists working today that are really pushing the boundaries of possibility in the world of screen printing.

Now, turn on your inspiration switch, and let’s look at some screen printing artists that need to be on your radar.

Screen printing in a Nutshell

So, before we look at some of these great artists, let’s quickly look at what screenprinting involves.

Also known as silk screen printing, screenprinting is a form of manual printing that allows a piece to be printed over and over. This process uses a fine mesh in a framework with a stencil fixed to it, blocking off certain areas to stop them from getting inked. The screen is filled with ink using a squeegee or blade, after which it is transferred to the material you are printing on.

You can ink one area multiple times with various stencils to create layers of imagery and color. Screen printing works on paper, fabric, and walls; the possibilities are truly endless!

This is just a quick overview, for a step-by-step and full explanation, check out our trusty brochure that is in your box as usual.

3 Contemporary Screen Printing Artists to Look Out For

As soon as you search screen printing online, the first person you will be presented with is Andy Warhol. And yes, he did a lot to bring this medium into the public eye, but there are so many other artists that are active today that are doing a lot for the medium. We can’t keep looking at the same Campbell soup cans for years on end!

Instead, as a palette cleanser, we have compiled three unique artists that we think are doing some really cool and inspiring things with the medium of screen printing.

Ben Rider

Ben Rider is a London-based artist that pushes the boundaries of what is expected of screen printing. His blend of graffiti-style art with text and illustration makes his pieces stand out whether it adorns a studio space or a tunnel wall. He has a particular love for fluorescent colors, which is very evident in his work.

In his piece in the Leake Street tunnel, he collaborated with artists Fatherless, Donk, and Aida Wilde to create a stunning street art piece using in situ screen printing. This takes screen printing out of the studio and into the urban jungle. Due to the nature of screen printing, it is totally possible to move the lightweight materials needed to an outside location and orint directly on the walls.

The piece covers the curving ceiling of the old brick station and is applied in many layers of pattern, imagery, and text to create a piece that is a riot for the eye to behold.

The head of the queen has been illustratively adapted to make a particular political statement, while the dotted style harkens back to Lichenstein and the screen printing of the 60s. The rest of the piece is a carefully coordinated kaleidoscope of black and white print and fluorescent patterning that brings to piece to life.

Some may look past pieces like this and discard them as graffiti but a true artist will be able to see the complexity and purposefulness of every element of this piece.

Heretic and Spectral Nation

Heretic and Spectral Nation is an art collective made up of Therese Vandling, Jon Rundell, and Luke Frost. Together they run a multi-disciplinary studio with ‘irregular print experiments’ with screen printing as the main focus.

It is clear from a short glance at their portfolio that color is at the forefront of their work. They juxtapose colors that harmonize or clash with one another to create pieces that vibrate with energy.

The way they talk about their art is seductive. They describe the goal of their work as being:

 ‘...a kaleidoscope landscape, a layered plateau, a journey unfolding and unending towards retinal, refractional release’

The piece that we feel truly encompasses this is their installation Animorphia which was exhibited in Liverpool in 2013.

This piece featured a room with sharply zigzagging walls and a three stairs structure in the centre. The entire room was covered in screen printed patterns that changed from plane to plane. Rendered in a luminous pink against a blue background, the patterns seem to swirl in a trippy way so the whole environment feels as if it is moving.

This work truly shows the versatility of screen printing and how it can become all encompassing with the right manipulation.

Jermaine Rogers

An artist driven by rock ‘n roll, Jermaine Rogers came to prominence when his ‘gigposter’ style became popular in the 90’s. He has worked for a plethora of legendary artists including Childish Gambino, Foo Fighters, David Bowie, Tool, Nine Inch Nails, and Run the Jewels.

Screen printing has always played an important role in poster making and Rogers’ art is a true reflection of that. But his work is not your average tour posters. His work strives to push social, cultural, and aesthetic boundaries at every corner to create pieces that express the musician and the artist at the same time.

He is also known for creating prints that bring two public figures together that would not otherwise be pictured together. For instance, Frida Kahlo having a smoke with Van Gogh as he gently lays his head on her shoulder. A tender hypothetical event from the past rendered in sunny blocked colors.

His work features rich layers of vibrant color, artful text, and areas of intricate details that cannot help but invoke an emotion from the viewer. The colors he uses are often complementary on the color wheel, which makes the works really draw the eye and pop off the page.

His poster for Queens of the Stone Age’s Winnipeg show in 2018 is the perfect example of his work. The text at the top is hand rendered to perfectly fit in with the figured in the piece. The first figure is an impression, an unoutlined nude woman made up of slivers of orange, green, yellow, and red. However, in the foreground we have the perfect exhibition of the detail that is possible with truly artful screen printing. Death is illustrated in a bold green outline with a shroud that is dancing with swirling details. In this one piece he has managed to exhibit all the possibilities behind truly artful screen printing.

His work is the perfect culmination of fine art and pop culture.

Who would have thought that the simple process of screen printing could have such incredible applications? From the walls of a London station to stadiums all over the world, screen printing has truly proven itself to be an incredibly valuable and versatile medium.

We hope that looking at these incredible artists has inspired you to make some amazing screen-printed art for yourselves; we can’t wait to see!

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