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What Exactly is Screen Printing?

The art of screen printing is the process by which thick ink is sheered through a mesh screen by a squeegee, placed on top of a fabric, and then cured through a heater at a specific temperature and time.

This is a loaded sentence, so let’s break it down a bit. But before we break down what screen printing is, let’s take a little history lesson together...

A Brief History of Screen Printing

“Screen printing originated in China (around AD 221) as a way of transferring designs onto fabrics.

Following this the Japanese began using simple stenciling techniques as a way to create imagery. At this time stencils were cut out of paper and the mesh was woven from human hair. Stiff brushes were used to force ink through the mesh onto the fabric. In the 17th century silk screens were being used in France as a way of printing onto fabric. Stiff brushes were still being used as a way to push ink through the mesh. It was here that the practice of stretching silk over a frame to support stencils was initiated but it is now known by whom. In the early part of the 20th century squeegees were introduced as a way of pulling ink through the screen mesh. In 1938 in New York a group of artists began experimenting with screen printing as an artistic medium onto paper. They coined the term ‘serigraphy.’”

Thank you Leicester Print Workshop for the history lesson! (

Screen Printing is an Art

As technical as it can become, there really is not a set list of rules when it comes to screen printing. Each ink is different. Every piece of garment handles differently. The pressure you need to apply varies based on how many colors are used in the design. All this to say, the best way to get beautiful prints is by practicing over and over. Technology has come a long way, so most print shops use automatic machines, however there are still plenty of “purists” who prefer to print manually.

Thick Ink is Sheered through a Mesh Screen by a Squeegee

Whether you are printing on an automatic screen press, or pressing manually, a squeegee needs to be used to push the ink through the screen and onto the fabric. The cool thing about screen printing is that you are able to print the colors wet on wet, which allows the colors to blend together to produce beautiful prints.

On Top of a Fabric

Generally speaking, the goal is to have the ink sit on top of the fabric (shirt, sweatshirt, canvas bags, etc) in a way that does not make it rough or uneven. A good screen printed shirt is one where the ink is applied evenly and smoothly.

Cured through a Heater at a Specific Temperature and Time

One of the most important aspects to screen printing is making sure that the ink has been fully cured. If the ink hasn’t gone through the oven, then it won’t take long before that print fades off of the fabric. Temperature and time settings will vary based on a number of factors that we won’t get into here.

So, there you go! That is screen printing in a nutshell. Every design that we print is printed with care and precision. Our goal is to make sure that your logo looks amazing every single time!

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