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Rebirth of the Screen-Printed Concert Poster

(February 2005) posted on Mon Feb 14, 2005

Read on to find out how a new generation of designers and printers have taken concert posters from the promotional realm into the world of collectible fine art.

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By Andy MacDougall

Grushkin says that when he and King first reviewed the 6000 posters submitted for the book, they found that more than 80% of them were screen printed. The established designers and screen printers who worked in the field during the last 15 years have inspired hundreds of new artists to explore the screen-printing process. The net result has been an explosion of DIY screen printing happening on kitchen-table clamshells and in basements and garages across the land.

Aside from delivering eye-popping colors, part of the explanation for the popularity of screen printing is its low entry cost and simplicity. That's attractive to young people or starving musicians, who can't afford a big budget for their posters. "After I graduated, screen printing was the only method I could set up in my home on a poor college student's budget and whip out artwork at a rapid pace," Bell says (Figure 2).

Readers should note that the bulk of gigposters are not done as typical, paid jobs. The artist gets permission from the promoter or the band to produce and sell posters for a specific gig, so they are mostly done on spec. The upside for the artist is virtually full artistic license. The artist can create a unique vision to illustrate the band and its music. The downside is minimal budget, which makes screen printing an attractive technique. Even the bigger shops find it more economical to use.

Steve Horvath (Figure 3), owner of D&L Screen Printing, says his current main press is a semiautomatic Sias machine with a print size of 24 x 35 in. D&L is considering a new Thieme machine to keep up with demand. He uses an Epson 7600, a 24-in.-wide printer, to produce the shop's film positives. "This is one area where new technology is actually making screen printing easier, less time consuming, and much less expensive than, say, 10 years ago," he says. "Computers, which were initially going to make screen printing almost obsolete, are actually helping to make it easier to work with art files and get them ready to be printed."


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