We have always loved the pedestrian, commercial history of screenprinting. Before it was the respectable artistic media we know it as today, it was a down and dirty, quick and easy way to produce temporary color promotional signage. A mainstay of the local commercial market, screenprinting was familiar for its contribution to thousands of local storefront window signs throughout the United States.
As opposed to the emulsion-based photo stencils that many screenprinters employ now, these historic ‘grocery signs’ were typically produced with hand-cut paper or film stencils, and exhibited evidence of that human hand. Some contemporary printmakers still employ a similar method of hand-cut rubylith to produce color blocks for photo stencils. This rubylith is the ancestor of the ordinary paper stencil.
We’ve long been obsessed with the paper stencil method for screenprinting, and may actually employ this method in near-future client projects. But recently, we were commissioned through our UK-based rep Dutch Uncle to produce an installation at Fallon London’s front lobby. We jumped at the chance to install an experimental series inspired by these archaic grocery posters. Along with a collection of other Aesthetic Apparatus poster test prints, the entire installation is below. The content of the prints plays off the implied commerce of this poster vernacular, toying with ideas of consumption, fallibility, and our general commodification of living.