As a graphic design studio, Beanwave’s work with commercial clients usually comes with constraints (and rightly so), so having an outlet to experiment and play creates a healthy balance between design and art.
I dipped a small toe into the world of screen printing back at art college some 25 years ago and found it fascinating, but only in the past year did I get around to dipping in the rest of the foot. One thing led to another, and now there’s a printshop here at the studio where I create art prints for the love of it and, for the discerning connoisseur, for sale, too.
Sounds easy, but it’s been a story of resourcefulness, trial and error, frustrations and joy.
The first thing to do was make some space. Screenprinting and its various processes take up a lot of space, even if you’re only doing A3 size prints. Luckily, behind the design studio is a small room which, as you can imagine, had become a bit of a dumping ground for bits and bobs. So after a clear out and a lick of paint, that became the designated printshop. The next challenge was to get a basic screen printing set up together and there wasn’t much (any) budget for this.
Screens, inks, squeegees, film, etc are all readily available and aren’t megabucks, so those were easy to acquire. Specialist equipment for exposing screens is pricey though. But ultimately, it’s just a high UV light, so surely there’s got to be a cheaper way to do it? Yes, there is. A £10 outdoor floodlight from Screwfix, fitted with a 1000w halogen bulb, glass lens removed and hung from the ceiling. Works a treat. It takes approximately 2 min 40 seconds to expose a screen – longer than a specialist unit would take, but hardly a deal-breaker. And there’s a handily placed hose outside for washing out screens.