Artist Alice Thompson’s beautiful, handmade screenprint is the star of our Art of the Voice campaign perk. We asked Alice to tell us more about how she made this limited-edition, one-of-a-kind visual celebration of the human voice.
How did you get your start in screen printing and what attracted you to the medium?
I made my first screen print using a basic kit. I created a small darkroom in a closet and exposed my screens using a lightbulb and pie-plate. My exposures were uneven and the stiff plastic squeegee was clumsy. I signed up for a summer workshop at the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina and learned about mesh counts, ink modifiers, squeegees, and basic registration. My screen prints were much improved, but when the class was over, I didn’t have access to professional equipment. Fortunately Philadelphia’s Second State Press had all the equipment and resources I needed. The secret to learning about any art form is to involve yourself with a supportive community. Each studio has unique equipment and procedures because there are many ways to approach screen printing. Taking a class, going to a critique or looking at work in an unfamiliar venue can be very enriching.
How did you conceptualize and execute the beautiful design for our posters?
In my print, the abstract voice bubble, composed of swirling white lines, represents the physical presence of several intermingling voices. Drawing people engaged in the act of singing and speaking revealed to me that the entire body, simultaneously graceful and awkward, is involved in shaping the voice.
Designing a screen print is like creating a fancy stencil and each color is printed in an individual pass. Therefore, my four-color screen print required four separate hand-drawn positives and print runs! Each print is created entirely by hand and no two are exactly alike.
To execute my print, I carefully drew my images onto clear acetate using oil-based black Sharpie pens to create my positives. Scratching into inked areas of the positives with a razor makes delicate gradations, as in the spotlight at the feet of the guitarist. The positives are used to block UV rays when the screen, coated with a light-sensitive photo emulsion, is exposed in a darkroom. The UV light hardens the emulsion and the soft areas shielded by the positive are rinsed away by a strong jet of water, leaving open areas of mesh on the screen. The ink is forced through these open areas with a squeegee when screen printing.
I was able to achieve very delicate lines and fine details in this print by using a screen with a 305 mesh count. The higher the mesh count, the finer the holes are in the screen. My print has a painterly quality because the streaks in the marker lines are visible, particularly in the dress of the center figure. I owe these details to a good exposure and high mesh count.
What resonates with you about Voice Messages and why were you interested in getting involved?
When I learned about the subject of this film, I was immediately intrigued. The average person, myself included, might use their voice as a rudimentary tool and overlook the nuances of this aspect of their persona. History, until very recently, was viewed through sculpture, painting, and my personal favorites… print and photography. The sounds of history only existed in description, written music, and aural traditions. This film promises to reveal the deeper truth about something that was once ephemeral and is now indisputably part of our analogue and digitally recorded history.
Tell us where we can learn more about you and see the rest of your work.
Please take a look at my website to learn more about my art: www.alicethompsonart.com.
If you’d like to get one of these prints for yourself, check out our Indiegogo Campaign and choose the Art of the Voice, Voice Expert, Kitchen Sink, Inner Circle, or Rolls Voice perks.