Ever thought about giving screen printing a try? Here’s everything you need to know…
Screen printing goes back centuries, but it’s never been as popular as it is now. In fact, we see everywhere we go, from the posters that adorn our streets to the tote bags we stick our shopping in – but have you ever tried it for yourself? Leeds is the perfect place to do it, because we have our own little print studio, right on our doorstep.
Leeds Print Workshop first appeared on the city’s art scene in 2015, but back then, their studio was nothing but a pipedream. The ‘committee’ set their sights high, and their hard work paid off, because in September 2016, they opened their studio in 130 Vicar Lane. Their Leeds city centre studio is now a thriving base for the city’s print enthusiasts, offering classes on everything from mono to lino printing – but the most popular, of course, is screen printing.
For those of you who’ve never come across it before, screen printing is the art of pushing ink through a mesh template to create your own unique design. Its versatility means screen printing has become a popular format for commercial purposes, so you’ll see it used on t-shirts, wall hangings and tote bags, but it also has more experimental and artistic uses.
Because you’re using a template, it’s relatively easy to create simple designs, but you also have the potential to do something really complex and unusual – which is why so many people want to give it a try. And the best way to do that, is with a course.
All the tools and materials are supplied and you’ll have an expert on hand to help you get the hang of it. “Learning the process takes a bit of practice,” Local designer, maker and screen printer, Kirstie Williams told us – she leads many of Leeds Print Workshops courses. “I find a great way to start is by using blank screens and hand cut stencils, then once you’ve mastered the technique, understand how to mix inks and have gained some confidence, you can move onto exposing screens using the photographic emulsion process.”
The beginner’s course is a weekend workshop and will teach you all the basics of screen printing. You’ll learn how to work with stencils and layer your designs with different colours. But that’s not all. You’ll also get a chance to test out different techniques, seeing the effect they have on your work first hand. And you don’t have to be an absolute beginner, these classes are a great opportunity to develop your ideas with advice from the tutors.
Alongside their beginner’s course, Leeds Print Workshop run a series of more advanced courses on how to use colour and how to get experimental with your creations, so if you want to carry on after your initial course, you’ve got lots of options.
Whether you’re doing it just for fun or to add to your artistic skill set, Williams has one piece of very important advice that will stand you in good stead if you’re thinking about giving screen printing a go, “Be patient!”
Leeds Print Workshop, 130 Vicar Lane, Leeds, Wets Yorkshire, LS2 7NL.