How do they do that?// Screenprinting with John Bosley

Screenprinting is one of those techniques that people see a lot, love the style, but have no idea how it works. So in the idea of further sharing how different types or art are made (you can learn about the letterpress technique here) I sat down with my friend and artist John Bosley.

John is an Iowa State grad and started there with a pre-biological medical illustration degree but graduated with a degree in fine art. He worked a variety of jobs until he took a job in operations with Raygun in 2009. He worked with on their design identity and branding up until last year when he  went out on his own to be a full-time artist. John creates screenprints with his original design. Each piece is handmade and therefore unique.

To start the process, John starts by sketching out ideas in his notebook or on his ipad. From there the design is taken to Photoshop, perfected, and then printed onto a large piece of film. Depending on how intricate the design is, each color has its own film printed. The film is then pressed up a screen and exposed to an intense light so that the image will be burned on to the screen. This is called photo-emulsion printing.  Below is what you get. The yellow parts of the screen will allow paint to go through the mesh to create that design.

With multiple colors, there needs to be multiple screens. John had already printed the first color of the design on the paper and so I was there to watch the next screen being added to the design. He hooked it up into his homemade (and genius) machine. Everything is designed to make sure that the paint goes on precisely where it needs to be. 

From there, he mixes his colors. John has a great understanding of color theory so he works with the different paints to create the exact color he wants. 

After all of that prep work, it's finally time to print. He adds the right amount of paint to screen and used a squeegee (I'm sure there's a more professional name for it but that's what it looks like to me) to apply the paint to the screen and to allow the paint to soak through. 

The process is quick for each print but when you're making hundreds of prints, it's a time consuming process. Below shows the print he was working on that day. It's amazing how the multiples screens turn into the detailed design on the right.

Most amazingly, with all of the work that goes into each piece his prints start at just $15. You can find his work and purchase here. John is one of those artists that I show my clients time and time again when they want great design on a budget. He and I see eye to eye on the whole "art for everyone" thing. His work is a prime example of how you don't have to be a millionaire to start an art collection.

John, thanks so much for letting me hang out while you worked. I learned so much about a process that we all hear about constantly. 

If there's any other techniques you'd love to learn more about, let me know in the comments and I'll be sure to have it featured.