The Distorted View of the 1960s

Multidimensional graphics have been a mainstay in indoor and outdoor displays for generations.

Having almost 60 years of back issues of Screen Printing magazine at my disposal makes it very hard to not thumb through the pages of history every now and then. While taking a look at editions from the 1960s, when the publication was called Screen Process, I found a great article that makes for an interesting comparison to a piece Screen Printing published just a couple of years ago. The subject matter is distortion printing, a process that challenges graphics producers of every era.

From “Costly time and labor can be reduced with DISTORTION PRINTING” (Screen Process, Mar. 1965, p. 20):

First, decoration is sketched in true perspective on the formed master piece. Next, using the distorted grid on the master piece as a guide, the decoration is transposed, square for square, onto a second grid-pattern flat sheet. The result is a distorted design on the flat fleet which will be “drawn” into true perspective during vacuum forming.... Printing of stock for the production run follows normal silk screen procedures, with extra care given to bringing the sheet into proper alignment under the stencil.

From “An In-Depth Look at Distortion Printing” (Screen Printing, Nov. 2009, p. 22):

Using Adobe Illustrator, we’ll create a new art file, sized to match the dimensions of the PETG sheet. Next, we create a grid with horizontal and vertical lines spaced 0.25 in. apart. The grid will cover the same area as the mold, which is about 2 in. less than the sheet size in each direction. The grid file is downloaded to the screen department, where it is used to create one stencil. The grid image is printed on four PETG sheets, with white ink for maximum visibility.... One gridded sheet is retained in our graphics/prepress department. Exact guide points used on the screen press are marked on the remaining sheets, which are then sent to the vac-form department.

You can read the entire 2009 article here.

Multidimensional graphics have been a mainstay in indoor and outdoor displays for generations. These eye-catching promotional tools are so popular that vintage and antique pieces command a premium as collectors’ items. Not surprisingly, screen printing has been a key part of their appeal, impact, and durability.

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