Screen Printer

By TACP Staff on July 11, 2021

Silkscreen art is created by moving or forcing varying indelible printing fluids through a blocking stencil and screen (or screen pattern) to create art on any number of surfaces. The technique has also been known historically as silk-screening, serigraphy, and serigraphic printing. Technological advances within the printing industry have made the process obsolete for large-scale production purposes; however, mechanized developments have contributed to the recognition of silk-screening as a true art form.

What Is Screen Printing?

Screen printing is a 2,000 year old form of printing that was first used by the Chinese. This technique involves pushing ink or paint through a mesh stencil onto a canvas, known as a substrate. The process of screen printing is generally very simple, and it also allows a person to make identical designs, such as logos, on several different items.

The most important piece of equipment for screen printing is the screen. The simplest screen for screen printing is nothing more than a piece of mesh stretched across a square wooden frame. In order to make a stencil on the mesh, an image is first drawn on the mesh. Certain areas of the mesh are then covered with an ink-blocking substance, which makes it impossible for ink or paint to pass through.

In screen printing, the objects that the designs are transferred to are known as substrates. Nearly anything can be used as a substrate and screen printed, as long as it can be laid flat. Some of the most popular screen printing substrates include fabric, wood, cardboard, and paper. Certain garments, like t-shirts, are often adorned with screen printing.

When an object is ready to be screen printed, it is laid on a flat surface, and the screen is laid on top of it. Ink or paint is then usually poured onto the surface of the screen. A squeegee or roller can then be used to force the ink or paint through the holes in the mesh and onto the substrate. When this is done, the ink or paint will be transferred to the surface of the substrate where the mesh has not been covered with an ink-blocking substance.

Where Do Screen Printers Work?

Using a screen printing device, a screen printer creates unique items that are printed with certain designs. Some items that a screen printer might create include posters, tapestries, decals, and clothing. T-shirts, for instance, are often screen printed with all sorts of different logos, sayings, and other designs.

A screen printer can either purchase a screen printing press or make his own. Making a screen printing press is really not all that difficult, and many beginners choose this option. To make a basic screen printing press, the fine mesh should be stretched across a wooden frame and secured with staples. Hinges can then be used to attach the wooden frame to another flat surface, such as a wooden board; this makes it easy to lift the screen frame, but also helps keep the mesh in place.

After acquiring or making a screen printing press, a screen printer will then usually need to create the stencils on the screens. These might be original designs, or they may be created according to a client’s specifications. For example, a client may want a business logo screen printed onto t-shirts.

To make screen printing stencils, a picture of the intended design is usually laid underneath a blank screen. The design can then be traced onto the screen with a pencil. All areas that the ink or paint is not supposed to pass through is then covered with an ink-blocking substance.

.Simple designs that require only one color will usually only require on the stencil. Complex designs with more than one color, on the other hand, will usually require a different stencil for each color. For example, if a company’s logo has four different colors, four different stencils will be used.

Screen Printer Education & Training Requirements

Although a formal education is not actually required in order to start a screen printing career, it can be helpful. A career in an art-related field can help aspiring screen printers fine-tune their artistic abilities and jump-start their careers. Strictly speaking, there is really no specific degree that screen printers should have, but some colleges do offer degree programs in screen printing.

A degree in fine art may is a general degree that can help indivduals become a screen printer. These general art degrees will usually help aspiring artists learn the basics of all sorts of different forms of art, including painting and stencil making. Many art schools even offer courses in screen printing.

Degrees in graphic design or illustration can also be helpful for those interested in pursuing screen printing careers.

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Screen Printer Salary & Job Outlook


The average annual salary of a screen printer will vary, depending on his specialty and talent, as well as the demand for his services. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have any salary information specifically pertaining to screen printers, but it does have information about related professions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, printing press operators made an average salary of $35,370 in 2010. Graphic designers, on the other hand, made an average salary of $48,140 in that same year.

Job Outlook

Some screen printers may choose to work in large factories, such as t-shirt manufacturers. These professionals will usually operate large screen printing presses. Unlike small screen printing operations, however, these larger operations usually allow no room for creative freedom. These professional screen printers are typically required to simply operate a machine that mass produces items printed with existing artwork. Qualified screen printers might also be able to find employment in custom clothing shops, and some may even have the opportunity to open their own screen printing business. Operating a screen printing business is challenging, but it can also be very rewarding since it gives screen printers complete freedom to express themselves artistically. These types of screen printers are not only limited to printing other people’s designs, for instance. They can also create custom pieces to sell.

Additional Resources for Screen Printers

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