THE SCREEN PRINTER
“It’s really low-fi, and yet it’s instant gratification,” laughs Kim Willoughby, co-founder of Dublin screen printing studio Damn Fine Print, as she explains the allure of their super-popular workshops, which sell out fast.
Part of their appeal is in the relaxed, messy nature of the screen printing process. “With screen printing, it’s all very easy and accessible and you don’t need a whole lot of technical ability to do it, compared to something like etching or letterpress,” explains Kim. “You don’t need to be able to draw, and you can’t really mess it up — because if you mess it up, you’re only experimenting more, and it’s more fun.”
Classes and workshops have been an integral part of Damn Fine Print since it opened in 2011. Held in their large, colourful studio in Smithfield, Dublin, the one-day ‘taster’ workshops, €85, are popular with small groups of friends, as team-building exercises or even alternative hen parties. Students leave with a printed tote bag and T-shirt. “It’s hands-on, it’s really messy and you come away with something that you’ve made yourself,” says Kim.
The workshops have become increasingly popular with creative agencies and tech companies looking for a mini digital detox. “We pretty much have had them all in the studio — from Facebook and Google to Twitter and Instagram,” she says. “To come in and do something that’s very hands-on and low-fi is great, particularly for those types of companies, as they’re so tech- and screen-based.”
The studio’s more intensive four-week courses, €220, are also geared towards people with little to no printing experience. “Over the four weeks, we take you from scratch, from learning about how to get an image on a screen, how to print that image, how to use all our equipment, how to wash out your screen and even working with different inks and mixing colours,” explains Kim. If you like what you’ve learned and want to keep experimenting, you can sign up for affordable, pay-as-you-go access, and make use of Damn Fine Print’s industrial-grade screen printing equipment, tools and workspace.
For Kim, no two days at the studio are the same. From organising events and courses to partnering with brands, working with artists on commissions, to the general admin of running a busy studio and online store — and, of course, producing beautiful screen prints. Print, at least here, is as popular as ever. “We’re at a generation now where some people have never worked in print: it’s all digital,” Kim notes. “So there’s definitely more of an appreciation for a hand-pulled print product.” damnfineprint.com