How a Poster Gets Made

You know those awesome screen prints you have hanging in your pad which make it look like some overgrown child’s room? You don’t. Then go away. But if you have a very serious affliction that involves filling your walls with nostalgia and awesome then stick around. Or if you’re cool. Or bored. Either way, you’re already here so you might as well read. Before I even get started it should be known that I am no expert nor even an amateur printer. If you are, however, serious about screen printing check out Kevin Tong’s “How to Guide” which spans 70+ photos along with incredibly detailed descriptions on each step. Jesus wept tears of joy and wine after checking it out. As for me, my first time around an actual screen printer came earlier this week at Grow Your Own Media, who is printing the first poster for our The Loft Cinema Poster Series. I setup some time throughout the week to visit the poster at various stages of printing, took pics and asked a bunch of questions. It was like a middle school field trip all over again – minus the bus ride, permissions slip and awkward boners that popped up when Kaylene talked to me. The basics are pretty simple. A screen per color is used to apply the ink. A machine (or by hand as in Kevin’s tutorial) or as I call it, a robotic squeegee, presses the ink onto the page. After each color is applied the posters dry then the process is repeated. Sounds easy, but it’s not. Far from it. The printing process itself is essentially an art form. I’d liken it to putting together a piece of furniture whose only instructions come in Chinese and Frustration. Sure, you can probably put something together that resembles a book-case, but you’ll be wondering why you have 14 extra pieces and it looks nothing like the desk you thought you bought. It takes tons of time and tons of practice to get it right. Another issue is paper, by definition, is not perfect, it bows and warps ever so slightly making dialing in the machine to print each color perfectly a difficult task. During my time there I was surprised at just how many times adjustments were made in order to keep the posters coming out nearly perfect. Of course, all of this, just makes the poster that much better. Knowing the time and energy put into all the steps – from the artist on down – makes screen printed posters worthy of occupying wall space in a forever home. I certainly have more appreciation into the craft now and am now going to take a class so I can dig in even deeper into the printing world. As I learn more, I’ll post more. In the mean time, check out the gallery of our first poster getting inked.