MA Practice : Experimenting with Screenprinting

Following on from my screenprinting induction a couple of weeks ago I headed back to the workshop to try out printing onto different materials. In preparation I went to Oxfam and bought a selection of items that I thought were either not useful, not beautiful or neither beautiful nor useful. After a little while in the print workshop I had a collection of objects to reflect on and evaluate.

variety of screenprinted objects including a record cover and cookery book

The box thing at the back of the above photo was one of the more interesting items I collected, it’s some kind of display box with a stone effect pasted onto MDF. Printing onto it I got a kind of shadowing that I think worked to add some emphasis to the words.

Printing on to the Cliff Richard LP cover was interesting to me as some members of my family have huge collections of Cliff Richard memorabilia. This is maybe a reminder that an object’s usefulness and beauty are subjective, a Cliff Richard LP isn’t useful or beautiful to me but to some people it would be both.

The plain inner sleeve of the LP proved to my favourite printing surface from a purely aesthetic point of view. I liked the simplicity of black words on a plain surface, especially as the sleeve had aged to an off-white colour. I also thought the ‘MADE IN GREAT BRITAIN’ stamp in the bottom corner was interesting as it suggests a kind of factory environment that no longer exists.

LP screenprinted with text

Printing directly onto the actual vinyl also provided an aesthetically satisfying result, with the ink emphasising the grooves in the record. Using records had special significance for me as, while are really no longer ‘useful’, I buy and enjoy them as ‘beautiful’ objects.

Screenprinted Record Cover

Having said that, a Sugababes dance remix is neither useful nor beautiful to me. Printing over this inner cover, however, sparked an interesting response. I chose to print onto this sleeve as a) the song is called ‘Ugly’ and I thought that was funny as my quote was about ‘beauty’ and b) the block colours and silhouette seemed to lend themself to being altered. However, when I took this piece into a tutorial another student pointed out it’s resemblance to a Second Wave feminist poster, ironically commenting on women as ‘useful’ or ‘beautiful’. I was kind of annoyed that I’d missed that reading, as it fits well with my own interests and research area, and possibly indicates a further life for this printing project.

Overall, through this small project I not only got the opportunity to experiment further with screenprinting but also began to think about experimenting with overlaying images and text in order to create new meanings, a technique that I think will prove to be useful as I explore my research further.