The Twoqee Twins – Twoqee Guo and Twoqee Song
As most of you will know by now, each month Sub-Culture collaborates with Shanghai based printers ‘Idle Beats‘ to produce a limited run of screen printed posters, each month inviting a different artist to do the design. This month’s poster, which we have entitled ‘The Baby Snatchers’ was design by Twoqee from Beijing. Yesterday we went to the Idle Beats studio to meet up with Twoqee to ask him a few questions about the design and to see how the poster was made.
Cult Youth comic – ‘Zombie Pie’ by Chairman Ca
Twoqee Guo, from Beijing, is a comic illustrator and creative designer behind the “The Thing” clothing brand, and is also part of the infamous ‘Cult Youth’ comic artist collective (check out this great little video about Cult Youth here). XiaoLongHua (the artist who designed December’s Sub-Culture poster, and who is also a member of ‘Cult Youth’) explains that Cult Youth is a collective of comic illustrators based in Beijing who put out underground comic books, either collectively or individually. The latest ‘Cult Youth’ comic, Zombie Pie by Chairman Ca, was released last December and is available to buy here , but, as XiaoLongHua explained, they only produce around 1500 of each comic, and all the earlier releases are sold out, so id act quickly if you want to pick one up.
‘The Baby Snatchers’ by Twoqee Guo
When asked about his ideas behind the poster, Guo told us that when thinking about the design he heard a news story about the worryingly increasing number of children being kidnapped and sold in China, and so this is the main inspiration for the image (hence the creepy looking men sneaking around, and the guy walking away with a pram). ‘The design took 3 weeks to develop and then 3 days to draw’ says Guo, who is very happy with its final outcome.
So now the design itself is done, the next step is to screen print it. Screen printing actually originated in China during the Song Dynasty (970 – 1279 AD), was introduced in the West during the 18th Century, and only really became popular due to Andy Warhol’s use of it in the 1960’s (thanks Wikipedia). I have been a collector of screen prints for a few years now, but have never really known about the whole process and so it was a pleasure and very interesting to see Twoqee and the Idle Beats crew at work.
Exposing the screen
First off, each colour of the image has to be separated and a screen has to be made for each layer (this design is 3 colours, so 3 layers). Each layer is first printed in black onto tracing paper, and then after the silk screen has been coated in light-sensitive emulsion, the tracing paper is placed underneath the screen in a large exposure machine and is exposed to light for roughly 80 seconds. The reason for this is that the light only shines through the parts of the tracing paper where there is no print, and then the emulsion on the silk screen which is exposed to the light becomes water proof. After the exposure, the remaining non-waterproof emulsion is washed off to leave a kind of stencil of that layer of colour. This is done for each layer, and so we are left with 3 screens.
Aligning the screen
Next is the printing. The first step is to print the main background colour (in this case, the kind of pink colour). The paper is laid down underneath the screen (which is attached to some kind of movable vice to keep it in the same position) and the screen is lowered on top of it. Ink is then poured on to one end of the screen and using a squeegee (a rubber blade) the ink is, quite quickly, drawn across the screen. The ink only goes through the screen where the emulsion was washed off, and so it creates a perfect copy of that layer of colour. Once the ink is dry, this is then repeated for each layer of colour. The tricky thing here is to get each screen exactly aligned before printing, and, as Gregor Koerting from Idle Beats explained, sometimes this can take hours to get it exactly right.
Pulling the ink across the screen
It was a really good experience to see how these posters were made, and it made me realise and appreciate the time and effort which goes in to each print. I didn’t arrive at the studio until around 5pm (due to a late night djing with Heatwolves, which was a lot of fun by the way) but these guys had been there since first thing in the morning, and when I left around 8pm they were still hard at it! As always, these posters, as well as past Sub-Culture posters, will be available to buy on Saturday night at Sub-Culture @ The Shelter, and also direct from Idle Beats. Idle Beats also run weekly screenprinting workshops, so if you fancy the idea of giving it a go yourself you can contact them here.
The finished print
Big up to Idle Beats, Twoqee and all the other artists that have been involved in the Sub-Culture posters so far! Next months poster will be designed by Tony Burhouse, check out his blog here.