Serigraphy / Silkscreen / Screenprint / Stencil printing

Silkscreen / stencil printing, has been used as an art form in Japan and China for centuries. Only within the past 90 years, has the process gained in popularity; its fundamental principles serve as a springboard for many new technologies. After World War I, silkscreening became popular among sign makers in the United States. During the Depression, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) promoted it as a fine art form. Carl Zigrosser, a noted art historian of the time, gave the process its name: serigraphy - from the Greek serikos (silk) and graphos (writing).

Screen printing is accomplished by forcing ink through a stencil, which is fixed to a mesh screen stretched tightly on a frame of metal or wood. A design is made on the mesh by blocking out part of the mesh. The remaining open areas allow ink to be squeegzed through to the paper below, resulting in the final printed image.

As a traditional printmaker I believe that an original serigraph is created by hand, from the sketch to the printing of each color on each sheet of the edition; also the most important factor, an original serigraph is intended to be a serigraph from the start. I create the stencils from sketches and print the stencils to become the serigraph image. For the work to be a true original serigraph the artist cannot create an original serigraph by reproducing a work already in existence.

Comparison of some traditional graphic arts media:








(1) Woodcut
(2) Woodengraving, Relief Etching, Linoleum Cut

Etching, Engraving, Aquatint, Drypoint

Serigraphy, Silkscreen, Screen Print, Stencil Printing


Limestone, Zink, Aluminum Plates, etc.

(1) Plank-grain wood
(2) End-grain wood

Copper, Zinc, Plastics

Silk, Organdy, Nylon, Polyester, Wire Mesh


Litho Crayon, Tusche, Litho Rubbing Ink

Knife, Gauge, Burin

Etching Needles, Burin, Acid, Grounds

Squeegee, Screen, Block out, Tusche

Type of

Litho Press
(sliding, scraping pressure)

(1) Household table spoon, baren
(2) Washington Press, letter press

Etching Press
(clothes-wringer type)



Prints what is drawn on the surface

Prints what is left on the original surface

Prints what is below the surface of the plate

Prints open areas of the stencil


Crayonlike (granular) as with a pen or brush

(1) Black line on white ground
(2) White line on black background

Etching-end squared, Engraving-swelling, Drypoint-soft, fuzzy

Brushlike, pen crayon, soft or hard edges


Wide range, delicate grays to rich black

Black or White

Wide range, grays through linear treatment or aquatint, mezzotint

Colors unlimited, opaque or transparent



Grain of the wood block

Man-made or man-controlled