Think serigraphs? Think: stencil graffiti and screen printing.

Serigraph pron. ser-i-graf.


John Coburn, 'Dreaming Land'


Think of serigraph, think of stencils. This technique utilises a thin sheet of impenetrable material with a design cut into it. This design is then placed over another surface, like paper or canvas and covered in ink or paint. Where the page is exposed to the ink or print, is where the print impresses.

Screen printing was developed in Britain throughout the 1920s. Due to its versatility, the technique was popular in commercial printing. Around 1935 however, gallery curator Carl Zigrosser coined the term ‘serigraph’ to distinguish screen printing in art from commercial printing. The technique popped into further prominence throughout the 1960s, thanks to Andy Warhol.

Serigraphs represent a thrill for artists. Because the technique works in layers, artists are restricted to limited colours and subjects, forcing them to think outside the matrix. Plus, stencil graffiti owes itself to screen printing. These artists have after all, just swapped paper for walls.

What the difference between serigraphs, screen prints and stencil prints? 

Serigraph is the overarching term for screen or silk and stencil printing. 

While stencil and screen printing are similar, there is a substantive difference between them. In stencil printing, the artist's image is impressed onto a substrate via a stencil, or cutout configuration. Think of a street artist holding up a cutout configuration against a wall and spray painting. Conversely, in screen printing, the image is impressed via a mesh screen.  

Check out these serigraph prints if you like…

Impact. Screen Printing is all about delivering a wow with minimal colours and detail. In the canon are John Coburn’s divine abstractions, like ‘Death and Transfiguration’ where flatness construes spirituality. There’s also Brett Whiteley’s poetic ‘Lavender Bay in the Rain’.  



Charles Blackman, 'Tuscan Sonnet'


Printing Fun Fact:

The versatility and accessibility of serigraph printing has firmly lodged it in the realm of modern and contemporary subcultures, but the technique actually stretches back to the Song Dynasty (960 -1279 AD).