DIY OR DIE! THE TECHNIQUES

This Thursday, July 17 at Milk Gallery in New York City, Boo-Hooray’s exhibit “DIY or Die: Handmade Zines, Record Covers And Posters From Punk to Reggae” opens. On display will be hundreds of examples of DIY-record cover art by independent artists from around the globe, with an emphasis on the 70s US/UK/Australian punk scene and the world of Jamaican Dub/Ska/Rocksteady. There’ll also be original paste-ups of punk fanzines from the collections of John Ingham, Geoffrey Weiss, and Bruce Griffiths and a selection of hand-printed Australian, British, and American punk rock posters spanning the years 1976 to 1983, as well as a large selection of original stencils from the Crass archive.

In lieu of printing offset (which was more expensive than most working artists and musicians could afford), a variety of do-it-yourself techniques were employed by artists wishing to distribute messages or images quickly — stencils, silkscreen, collage, and rubber stamping being the ones most often used.

STENCILS

A stencil is a thin sheet of paper, cardboard, plastic, wood, or metal, with either letters or a design cut into it. The letters (and/or design) may then be applied onto another surface (be it poster, record sleeve, leather jacket, or wall) with pigment via the cut-out holes in the material. Stencils allow the same letters or design to be reproduced more rapidly, and more repeatedly, than other methods.

SILKSCREENS

Silkscreening is a readily learnable printing technique employing a woven mesh which supports a stencil blank record covers,, poster paper — to produce a sharp-edged image. The stenciled mesh is positioned over the surface upon which the design is to be reproduced — a t-shirt, a blank record cover, poster paper — and then a fill blade, or squeegee, is pressed firmly and evenly along the screen stencil, forcing ink through the mesh openings onto the surface below, to produce the desired design.

COLLAGE

A collage is an art technique used mostly (but not exclusively) in visual arts, where a finished design or artwork is produced from the assemblage of a variety of other visual elements such as magazine or newspaper clippings, ribbons, bits of paper, portions of other artworks, paint, or photographs. These are most often glued onto paper, or canvas. The collage has been regularly employed in art since the early 20th century.

RUBBER STAMPS

Rubber stamping, often used in craft projects, is a method of image or message transfer where a type of ink made from dye, or pigment, is applied to an image carved, molded, or engraved onto or into a rubber sheet, which is then trimmed and attached to a hand-held stamp, readily allowing the image to be inked, and stamped onto the desired surface.

On occasion a more direct method is employed — a pen, or pencil, is taken up and the preferred message is written directly onto the surface.