Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hand silkscreened for richness and saturation

For the past few years, we've done really well with a hand-silkscreened card line from New York called "Great Arrow." The designs are fresh and original and the quality is amazing. Many of our customers buy the cards as affordable artwork in order to frame!

The process starts with a new card concept from their artists. The designer provides sketches, paintings, digital designs, or even a three-dimensional collage. Great Arrow's in-house design team then prepares the art for the silkscreen process. Their colorist brings the original art to life using a palette of more than 500 colors of ink, including metallic colors and clear varnishes. Next, the design goes to print.

Screenprinting is a stencil technique in which the printer uses a rubber-bladed squeegee to force ink through the mesh of a screen; only the open areas of the mesh allow the ink to pass through. The squeegee process is repeated for each color on each card, with time allowed between each pass for the cards to dry. Great Arrow might be able to make cards faster with automated printing machines, but patience isn't just a virtue — it's also a value. Individual cards run from 2.85 - 3.35 (you can't buy a lousy Hallmark card for that little!)

Hand silkscreen printing is physical work, but it doesn't demand strength as much as feel. An experienced printer can control the pressure on the squeegee better than any machine, allowing us to reproduce the subtleties in an artist's original work. That's why artists love to design for Great Arrow — their cards have a richness and saturation that simply cannot be replicated by standard lithography.

Gallery Fifty always has a nice selection to choose from. Ask about our cards for birthday, anniversary, get well, sympathy, thank you, wedding, baby, or "just because." Our two favorites are above. The monkey card says "You drive me bananas." And the cat card says "You're amazing" inside.