The Art of Printing: Serigraphy

Fairly often we get questions from our clients about the limited edition prints that we're showing, how the prints are made and what's the difference between a print that's a Serigraph, Lithograph and Giclée.  So we wanted to take some time to explain these different printing techniques and how artists have used them over the years.  The first technique we want to focus on is one of the most widely used methods of specialty printing in the fine art world, Serigraphy.

The principle of screenprinting, silkscreening, or serigraphy, consists in applying stencils to a screen (constructed of silk or of some synthetic or metallic material), in such a way that when ink is applied it is prevented from passing through some parts while penetrating the rest of the screen, thereby printing an image on paper placed underneath.

The key to printing high quality serigraphs is all in the preparation of the screen. The process requires an immense amount of forethought, planning, patience and often a steady hand! There are a number of methods available to prepare the screen for printing, including the use of filling-in liquid, varnish or plastic film. 

The screen is then stretched across a frame and attached to a base in such a manner that it can readily move up and down, so that paper, canvas or other substrates can be easily placed and removed as required. For each impression, the substrate is placed against registration tabs to ensure that the image is printed in the correct position. After the screen has been lowered into position, the ink is poured over the masking at one end of the frame and then scraped across the screen with the aid of a squeegee.

Artists all over the world for decades have used serigraphy to create some of the most recognized pieces of art we know today.  Andy Warhol, known historically as one of America's most distinguished artists and a pioneer of POP Art, used screen printing to produce some of his most renowned works of art including his famous "Campbell's Soup" series and "Marilyn Monroe" images.  Patrick Nagel, the late iconic artist of the 80s era, whom Just Looking Gallery is proud to have showcased for many years, reproduced many of his pieces as limited edition prints using serigraphy which have since become widely sought after.

Andy Warhol, Campbell's Tomato Soup 1 of a 10 piece series Serigraph Print on Paper, 1962

Andy Warhol, Campbell's Tomato Soup

1 of a 10 piece series

Serigraph Print on Paper, 1962

Patrick Nagel, Texas 12 Color Serigraph, 1983

Patrick Nagel, Texas

12 Color Serigraph, 1983

Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe 1 of a 10 piece series Serigraph Print on Paper, 1967

Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe

1 of a 10 piece series

Serigraph Print on Paper, 1967

Patrick Nagel, Just Looking 8 Color Serigraph, 1978

Patrick Nagel, Just Looking

8 Color Serigraph, 1978

Over time screen printing has been highly valued for its versatility and ability to print on nearly any substrate for any purpose ranging from clothing to fine artwork. Since its invention at the beginning of the 20th Century, serigraphy continues to be one of the most popular and widely practiced methods of printing to this day.