The History of Screen Printing

  • Sep 17, 2020

By Morgan Hull


Screen printing is a technique where ink is applied directly to the surface to be printed (the substrate).  The image being printed is photographically transferred to a fine fabric (the screen) where the non-printing areas are blocked off and the fabric then serves as a stencil.  The ink is wiped across the screen with a blade or squeegee to pass through the unblocked fabric pores to reach the substrate.  If there is more than one color being used, then a separate screen is prepared and the process is repeated.  Traditionally, screen printing was called serigraphy or serigraph printing. 


Screen Printing 1


The earliest recognizable form of screen printing appeared around 1,050 years ago in China during the Song Dynasty era – an era that saw advancements in painting and other forms of art.  This was an extremely complex process, using matrixes made of human hair glued together for the ink to pass through.  Screen printing was adopted and redefined in Japan and arrived in Europe around 1907.  Japanese textiles shows influenced craftsmen from England and France to use screens made of silk in their printing process.  Samuel Simon was the first Englishman to patent and use silk in screen printing.  His new adaptation was used for printing high-quality wallpaper or printing directly on linen and silk.  A few years later in 1910, Roy Beck, Charles Peter, and Edward Owens produced photo-reactive stencils by experimenting with chromic acid salt sensitized emulsions.  This new development completely revolutionized the commercial screen printing industry. 

In the 1960s, the United States saw the emergence of Pop Art, where true screen printing was born. Andy Warhol used the idea of appropriation and experimented with repetition art and bold color choices.  American pop culture was huge during this time, so it’s no wonder that Warhol had an interest in iconic music and film stars.  However, many people considered his choice of subject matter to represent the anxieties surrounding death and deeper-rooted issues.  His first famous screen print was that of Marilyn Monroe, produced shortly after her death.  Some of the other popular artists during this time were Roy Lichtenstein, Jim Dine, Richard Hamilton, Robert Rauschenberg, and the famous Mary Corita Kent whom all produced eye catching images combining various mediums such as photographs, images from newspapers, words, letters, and dots and pixels.  Major artists of the 20th century really embraced screen printing because the technique allowed vibrant hues to take a step forward and allowed them to use collage and print combinations. 



Today at Marked Promotions, all screen printing is performed on site by our staff using automatic and manual M&R presses.  In-house production allows us to provide fast turn around times and guarantee your deadlines are met. We are able to make any necessary modifications to your job quickly and ensure our work is error free.


MP Screen Printing


Our art and production teams are skilled in various screen printing methods including spot printing, four color process printing, simulated process printing, and various special effects techniques. Our art department can prepare your supplied artwork for print, including Pantone color matching, or create custom artwork for your job.

Our use of superior inks and materials, precision M&R presses, and quality apparel ensures we are able to deliver outstanding results, on time, and on budget. Every time.  Contact us today to start a project or to learn more about our screen printing process! See some samples of our screen printing work here.

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