Although silkscreen printing may not seem like the easiest art form to try your hand at outside a dedicated studio, it is in fact a highly approachable process. It took off in the United States during the mass social movements of the 1960s because it was an inexpensive way to print banners and posters. Andy Warhol’s silkscreens popularized the method in fine art and became his defining style. Today, screen printing is used to apply designs to clothing as well as to create works of art. Whether you’re interested in trying silkscreen printing at home or learning to navigate around a studio, or even if you’re a confident printer looking for inspiration and advanced techniques, the books below offer actually helpful tips, tricks, and how-tos.
1. Screenprinting: The Ultimate Studio Guide from Sketchbook to Squeegee
Cool studio and art-print store Print Club London put out this book based on the success of its screen printing workshops. The wide-ranging volume covers everything from the fundamentals to the little things that are learned in the studio but are often left out of books—like the importance of scrap paper and what popular pens look like on the page. The latter half of the book features individual artists associated with Print Club London leading specific pictorial lessons on how to go beyond the basics by doing things like hand-finishing with pastels and gold foiling. There’s even advice on how to make money from the art form.
2. Silkscreen Masters
Serious screen printers will benefit from the insider tips contained in this book. While it does offer basic information, it goes beyond most manuals by including methods and styles honed by professional studios and individual artists. Author Luca Bendandi interviews experts in printing workshops around the world, including Kid Icarus in Toronto, Arrache-toi un oeil! in Paris, and Viadukt in Vienna. The book even gets into what you need to consider before you start supplying your studio, based on crowdsourced knowledge from professionals. Plus, flipping through the full-color illustrations is sure to get creative juices flowing.
3. Printing by Hand: A Modern Guide to Printing with Handmade Stamps, Stencils, and Silk Screens
This book is geared toward the casual at-home printmaker who wants to master the art without fancy materials or machinery. Skills are taught through complete projects like decorating a dog bed and creating custom upholstery. Author Lena Corwin provides various charts illustrate how to choose the best paints, pigments, and other gear you’ll need for your chosen undertaking, and you also get an envelope of templates for all of the specific projects. The book also covers stamps and stencils, making it a great gift for crafters whose interests go beyond screen printing.
4. Marimekko: The Art of Printmaking
Iconic Finnish design house Marimekko offers an inside peek into the making of its bold, colorful printed fabrics in this book, which focuses on the elusive how-tos of textile design. By offering case studies of individual designers who work with the brand, showing how the Marimekko factory operates, and explaining the choice between hand screen printing and digital printing, this book functions as a master class for screen printers who know the technical aspects and want to take their work to the next level.
5. Screen Printing Today: The Basics
Of all our picks, this book is the most like a traditional Intro to Screen Printing class and in fact is used as a reference book in many classrooms. That being said, it does not assume that readers have access to live instruction. The step-by-step guidance, illustrated with helpful photographs, is clear without any dumbing-down of the art. Chapters cover many processes that simpler guides leave out, like low-tox innovations and the split fountain technique, so that you won’t feel out of place among classically trained screen printers.