A Short History of Silk Screen Art

A Short History of Silk Screen Art


Silk screen printing art was originally the Japanese version of stencil printing, also known as Katazome. This is a printing art that has survived for more than a thousand years, even though there have been some modifications to the techniques and gears of this printing method throughout the years, but still it’s quite remarkable.

Although it was found by the Japanese, the first individual who patented silk screening was an Englishman named Samuel Simon. At that time, silk screening was also known as serigraph. When this printing art reached the United States, an American man named John Pilsworth modified the printing method to be able to apply multiple colors, he patented this silk screen printing variation in 1914.

After that, silk screen printing was becoming hugely popular and when it was started being implemented in an industrial capacity during the First World War to create flags, advertisements and banners. Since then silk screen printing became the standard printing process in mass productions of t-shirts, textiles and stickers. Some famous artists during the rise of pop art in the 60s and 70s also used this printing technique in their artworks, including the one and only Andy Warhol.

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Silk Screen Printing Process. Photo from Flickr by rebecca olarte

One of the reasons why silk screen printing can be extremely popular is because the process is very simple. The complexity of the process pretty much depends on the desired effects you want to make. The simplest process is by using a stencil laid on top of the screen with the design you want to create, then just apply the ink and push it through the screen. A more advanced method is by using a screen emulsion that will help to block certain areas of the screen so you can shape your image. Today silk screen printing is not only done using a silk screen, but also with other materials like polyester and nylon. In fact, these two materials have become a standard in screen printing nowadays due to their low cost.

Warhol Campbell's Soup

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