Screen Printing on the Cheap at Big Table


Pulled my first poster last night. It’s a lovely little turquoise number on French Paper with two words that shimmer in transparent ink: MADE MAKE.


The process of pulling a poster was very simple since the nice folks at Big Table Studio on Wabasha had set everything up for me and other partygoers. Four different screens were composed with artwork and set up on a big table, the inks were laid and a squeegee coach stood by to see that I pulled the ink spreading tool at the right angle, with the right pressure and speed. After ten minutes on the drying rack I had my poster in hand.


The studio was buzzing last night to celebrate the book release of Screen Printing on the Cheap, How to Print Using Your Cents. The book was written thanks to over $10,000 in funds raised through Kickstarter. The book is written by Andy McInnis, who is a member of team Screen Printing on the Cheap which includes designer Nate Johannes, producer Caitlin Hargarten, videographer/photographer Sam Thompson, web developer Bjorn Hagstrom and copy editor Rusdon Torbenson (oh yes, copy editors are artists too). Screen Printing on the Cheap also conducts workshops and rides a bicycle-driven mobile printing press.

The book is described as dedicated to the idea that “As educated artists, we have been conditioned to rely on making art in facilities we simply cannot afford. Screen Printing on the Cheap demonstrates a “new school” of screen printing and makes the process more accessible to the community. In turn, screen printing makes their creative work more accessible to the masses.”


Love that. I have done a lot of artwork at home, including homemade stencils (using freezer paper, flour paste and other fairly low tech ideas). Last summer, my own Irrigate Arts funded poster project “University and Lowertown Voices” really took off (See our work on permanent display at Golden’s Deli in Lowertown). We worked with a professional printer but I am interested in pushing up my sleeves and and mastering the DIY aspect of poster making.


So I sat down this morning to read the 150 page book. It is attractive, written in short humorous paragraphs bearing friendly stereoscopic-style headings and lots of helpful illustrations. I was pumping my fist as I read through the introduction, “we have been conditioned to rely on making art in facilities we simply cannot afford.” I loved the floor plan that had an entire art studio broken down by rooms in an apartment. I was buoyed at the thought that for $150 to $200 I could set up my own poster producing kingdom. But as I read through the book, the jargon got thicker and the reality got harder to imagine.

Ultimately, I came away from this book determined to find a facility I could rely on. The screens, the paints and chemicals, the elbow room to pull big images and clean-up with a power washer, not to mention the opportunity to learn from people who have lots of practice with a fairly sophisticated process, appeals to me.


I am excited by the work of the Screen Printing on the Cheap collective, Big Table Studio and others that want to make making print art easier for everyone. The movement is afoot. Next stop, D.I.Y. Printing *Presses Not Required, a show that opens March 7 at the Minnesota Museum of American Art Project Space. Stay tuned.

*All photos by Jack Steinmann


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