What Is a Serigraph?

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What Is a Serigraph in Art? (Meaning)

A serigraph is what a lot of people also call a screen print.

Serigraphy (also known as screen printing, serigraph printing, and silkscreen printing) is a rendition of an original artwork. It uses a printing technique where a stretched mesh is used to transfer ink onto a surface (like paper, canvas, wood, or even a t-shirt), except in areas made impassable by a blocking stencil.

Watch the video below to see a detailed look at how a serigraph is made by viewing the video below. I think this video will give you a better appreciation of what artists go through to make a serigraph.

Screen Printing. How it Works

Here are the the most basic steps of making a serigraph…

First, the serigraph printing process begins with the breaking down of an image into separate colors that are to be printed one after the other until the print is finished. Then, a black inked transparency of each color is printed.

Computers have slowly become a part of the serigraph printing process, which has this color separation much easier.

Since one color is printed at a time, several mesh screens must be made and used to produce a multi-colored image or design.

Each mesh is stretched tightly over a firm wooden or aluminum frame and is usually coated with a photosensitive fluid (emulsion). The black inked transparencies are then baked into their separate mesh screens by intense light (an adhesive film can also be used to create a mask, instead of using a photosensitive emulsion).

Once the mesh screens have been exposed to light, washed, and dried, the artist pushes ink through the series of meshed screens, layering ink on the paper (or another surface) one color at a time.

By reusing these mesh screens, the artist can create as many hand-printed copies of the same original image as he or she wants.

Serigraph is a term that originates from the Latin words seri (silk) and graphos (writing).

Serigraphs also used to be called silkscreens, but the reason it’s not called silkscreen as much anymore is that artists (or artisan) generally use polyester, nylon, or stainless steel mesh. In the past, artists did use silk fabric but silk is now dissolved by the chemicals they use while making the stencils used for printing the artwork.

How Do You Identify a Serigraph?

You can usually tell if a print is a hand-printed serigraph if you look at the it under a magnifying glass.

A hand-printed serigraph will usually show colors layered on top of each other. This is especially obvious where the colors meet at the edges.

Another common characteristic of serigraphs is that you’ll have large areas of flat, smooth colors. Usually, you won’t see any dot patterns on serigraphs.

Is a Serigraph an Original?

If a print is handmade by an artist (or artisan), they are usually called original prints or manual prints.

No two serigraphs are going to be 100% exactly alike, which is what makes them original.

This is especially true when the artist likes to make changes when screen printing the original image to create a unique image (like emphasizing certain colors or design elements).

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Is a Serigraph Valuable?

A serigraph print is usually much more affordable than the original artwork or photograph, but still has an air of exclusivity as the artwork is typically not mass-produced.

Factors that have the potential to increase the value of a serigraph print are:

  • Has a limited quantity (limited edition)
  • Is numbered (another sign that it’s from a limited edition)
  • Is signed by the artist
  • Was hand-printed by the creator of the original artwork

So now that you know what serigraph prints are, go ahead and buy art (my two favorite spots for finding affordable serigraphs are Etsy and Saatchi Art), support independent artists, and HAVE FUN shopping!