About screen printing

Screen prints have a distinctive look and are characterised by vibrant, solid blocks of colour. Famously used by Pop Artists like Andy Warhol, it has also been used to create iconic 1920s London Underground posters, evocative 1950s travel posters, some of the best loved Blue Note jazz album covers, the psychedelic imagery associated with Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles, iconic film posters like Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. The contemporary artist Julian Opie used screen printing to create the cover of Blur's greatest hits album. 


How are screen prints made?

Creating a screen print involves mixing inks and pressing them directly on to paper by hand. No two prints are ever completely identical; each one is unique. Overlapping colours is an exciting part of screen printing, colours can overlap each other to create new colours on the page, without using another ink.

Artwork by Anna Pharoah featured on this website uses a screen printing technique of overlapping, interlocking colour layers. The following set of images are a sequence of cropped photos of colour separations (incomplete prints), followed by their completed counterparts, which shows how this process works.  

A blue layer is printed first...

a red layer that looks like this is printed over the top

When printed over the blue layer, it overlaps to create the completed image! 

Here's another example. A turquoise layer... 

Combined with a red layer over the top... 

Combines to create a third colour and the completed image emerges:

This traditional screen printing method is deceptively simple! It was developed by screen printers to economise on the number of colours and layers needed to complete an image, and it utilises the possibilities of screen printing to create exciting effects. 

A signed limited edition print is worth a lot more than a digitally produced photograph or poster, because each one is a unique work of art made by hand.