Manual Labor / by Ryan Davidson

Photo Mar 04, 11 11 58 PM.jpg

I've been familiar with the screen printing process for a couple of years. I did an internship at a local t-shirt printing company that had a few in house brands I worked on. While I was involved with the process, I never physically printed anything. I spent a lot of my time designing and optimizing said designs for print. Color separations, simulated processes, trapping, registration...I had heard of it, I had seen it, I had even done some of it. The company had two huge 8 arm screen printing machines though, so it was more automated in terms of actually pulling the ink to print the shirts, as most companies are these days. 

It wasn't until this spring that I got to experience the whole process first hand, from design concept to coating and exposing screens, to physically pulling the edition or series. It's truly a lost art form. The little inconsistencies found in screen printing are more prevalent in hand pulled editions, making them each somewhat unique and individual works of art. While it's not as practical for companies and studios pushing out large volumes of work to use a manual pulling method, it's still an art form that needs to be appreciated. I know there are a few out there that still do it to an extent, but it's becoming harder and harder to find.