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Print Tech: Pushing the Art of Poster Making

(October/November 2017) posted on Tue Oct 17, 2017

One screen printer has a big idea.

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By Andy MacDougall

Most people live in the world of now. But a handful live in a world that doesn’t quite exist yet: the world of five years out. It’s the tangible future, where possible meets practical to produce new technologies that help make life better.

This past year, the Cherry Creek Arts Festival in Denver partnered with sponsor Arrow Electronics in the Five Years Out Arrow Art Challenge. This is an international competition to inspire artists to take the concept of innovation and express what their particular art medium might look like in five years. Through a competitive selection process, seven finalists were awarded a commission to create a forward-thinking piece. Dan Stiles, a Portland-based artist/designer/screen printer, was one of them.

Over the past 20 years, Dan has worked with everyone from indie bands to major corporations in creating advertising, posters, custom packaging, brand identities, and limited edition collectable art and merchandise. His clients range from Sonic Youth, Arctic Monkeys, and Sasquatch! Music Festival to Google, the X Games, and Nickelodeon. Not content with being a standard-issue graphic designer, he fell down the screen printing wormhole, and recently started linking poster making with printed circuitry and music with his graphics. The result? Modern-day alchemy.

“My interest in this started out with personal experiments,” Stiles explains. “My design process is based on the notion that one thing leads to another. I’ve always felt that people should pursue what interests them creatively, even if they have no idea where it will go. Originally, I wanted to see what more could be done with a poster. I’ve been designing and screen printing for more than 20 years and I wanted to push past what I’ve been doing with the poster as a form.”

His first step was animation: “I began to animate my work in After Effects, but the final result was digital, not physical, and too many people were already doing animation.”

That led him to research new technologies that could be used to bring physical print media into the 21st century. Months of poring over technical articles, data sheets, and blogs led him to a slew of new tech, much of which leveraged screen printing as part of the process. “This was really exciting to me because it was a process I already understood,” Stiles says.


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