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Adventures in Screen Printing as a Newbie

There’s something magical and inspiring about being a complete newbie at something. And when I say magical and inspiring, what I really mean is awkward and terrifying. And that can be a good thing.


The Beginnings


At age 9, the only English word I knew was “Yesterday” thanks to The Beatles and my dad playing and singing their songs with his guitar. Today, I know more English words than Russian words (my native language) and naturally think in English.

At age baby, I drew stick figures wearing stick capes and imitated my parents’ cursive handwriting by drawing squiggly lines. Today, I like to think that I’ve become slightly better at the drawing and writing thing than I was back then.

I’ve learned that you’ll never learn something new unless you practice. And that you still won’t learn something new if you compare yourself to others.

While seeing lots of screen prints in the past few years by some of my favorite artists, such as James Flames, I became curious about the screen printing process. When I learned about the screen printing classes at Lillstreet, I took one.



The Teachers

This is Matthew, the screen printing teacher:


It may look like he’s pondering deeply about the great impact he’s making on the world by teaching people new skills, but something’s telling me he’s probably pondering deeply about the ingredients that would make the perfect beef sandwich for lunch. Not sure how I know this. Just a hunch, I guess.

This is Nora, the screen printing teaching assistant:


When she’s not teaching her own 2,483 different printmaking and textile classes, she assists other teachers, like Matt, and other screen printing newbies, like me.

She also likes the sky. Which is great, because the sky is awesome. Nora is running a project called Blue is the Sky, where everyday she, or another participant somewhere in the world, holds up a paint swatch that matches the color of the sky at that moment, and then takes a photo of it. In addition, she currently has a flag installation at the rooftop of Lillstreet called Interactions of the Sky.

The Lessons

This screen printing class helped me better understand printmaking and layering of colors. Plus, it helped me experience that vulnerability of feeling completely clueless about how to do something. Each of us are good at something, but only doing what we are good at can cause us to think narrowly. Those moments when we feel like we’re out of our comfort zone are an important part of personal growth.

At moments, I felt angry when I couldn’t remember the proper steps of the process. But I had to let that anger go and think about what I’m doing and try to remember, or ask for guidance, and keep going. Here’s a bunch of pictures from the various steps it took to create both of my prints:

And of course… The Mistakes

As a screen printing newbie, I made plenty of mistakes. It seemed like it was just unavoidable! As mentioned above, I kept forgetting the steps. Sometimes, it was the most simple things.

My favorite one is when I was getting ready to burn my screen for my “Shiptini” print, and used a fellow classmate’s screen by mistake. I didn’t realize my screen got moved and I didn’t think to check the name on it. So, for the remainder for the classes, I was known as Jonathan and he was Tanya.

The Results!

This is KLOUDZ, my first ever screen print using 3 colors:


And this is Shiptini (Or shipteeny), my second ever screen print, using 3 colors (which should have been 4 colors but I ran out of time for all of them)! Color-mixing assistance and title, courtesy of Nora.


My classmates created awesome prints, as well. Each of us were from different personal and professional backgrounds, and with different interests. It was a great experience to come together to learn this same screen printing process, and for each person to learn their own lessons and end up with their own results.

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