The Americas Collection Graphics

What Is a Serigraph?

There are many forms of painting techniques that artists employ to create their masterpieces. One popular technique artists use in the commercial art world is the use of serigraphy. But what is a serigraph? This sophisticated process is behind many of the paintings you may recognize. By learning what a serigraph is and why it is so important, you will come to appreciate more fully the intrinsic value of some of your favorite masterpieces.

What is a Serigraph?

Serigraph is a labor-intensive screen print or silkscreen technique, dating back to the 20th century. This highly respected stencil printmaking process in the art world involves reproducing original masterpieces by hand. Although these prints are reproductions, each one has unique characteristics and nuances. This process is popular with many artists because it does not require much equipment or many materials.

Because of these fine details, many artists often will limit the availability of their serigraphs to the public. Are limited edition serigraphs worth it? The worth is far less than the original masterpiece, but can garner more money than an original piece created by the artist. Because these pieces are more recognizable, the general public is more likely to purchase these limited edition art prints.

How are Serigraphs Made?

An original artwork piece is used as a master guide in creating a serigraph. Each color is separated carefully and burned onto individual screens. The most important aspect of the creation of a serigraph is how the screen is prepped at the beginning of the process. It must be carefully prepared with a varnish, glue, or plastic film before being stretched across a frame. The frame is then attached to a movable base.

Each color is screened one at a time onto a surface such as paper or canvas by pushing pigmented ink through each screen using a squeegee. Areas that are not to be painted with a specific color are blocked off. Only two color applications can be made per day with long drying times in between. Approximately 80 to 90 colors can make up just one painting. A single piece of artwork can take up to two months to complete from start to finish.

History of the Serigraph

The first known patent for the serigraph process was granted in 1907 to Samuel Simon in Manchester, England. In the mid-1930s, serigraphy was recognized by the Works Progress Administration group. The process gained popular ground in the 1960s when artists who were previously against the medium saw its commercial potential as a positive asset. One of the most famous artists to take on this art form was Andy Warhol, who used screen printing to create his Marilyn Monroe and Campbell Soup paintings.

In 2017, the art market globally reached a value of approximately $64 billion. The art of a serigraph is part of the history behind how that number became so large. By asking “what is a serigraph?” and learning its history, you can better appreciate the artistry behind many of the paintings you recognize around the world. The next time you stop to gaze at a beautiful masterpiece, take a moment to appreciate the painstaking time the artist took to create it.