Behind the scenes: Passage Through Purgatory

We get a lot of folks asking us about our screenprinting process, especially for the more involved prints such as the brand new Passage Through Purgatory. We'd like to reveal a bit of the magic that goes on here at Burlesque and show you some photos taken during the process of making Baizley's artwork into an 11-color screenprint.

It all starts with John sending us a high-resolution, flattened image of his artwork, in this case a watercolor painting. From there, Wes Winship will crack it open in Photoshop and begin peeling it apart, deciding which colors can best be used and combined to create a print which is as true to the original image as possible. Through a mix of opaque, transparent, and translucent colors, the image begins to take form on the computer. It's an arduous task, but Wes ultimately prevails. At this point, we are looking at a ten-color print. A layered proof is sent to Baizley for his approval. Once he gives us his thumbs up, the final films are prepared, printed, and are then used by Ben to expose the ten separate images onto screens.

Ben begins laying the colors down and the image starts to take shape...

Throughout the printing process, we do some color tests, laying down strips of ink to see not only how they are looking compared to the colors on screen, but how they are affecting the other colors beneath them. Here are two examples of the color testing process:

If a color is off by just a little bit, it can have a huge impact on the entire print. Once we were near the end of the ten colors, we make a decision that an almost white-peach layer of semi-translucent ink would help smooth out some of the blues which were getting a bit too bold. An additional plate is built in Photoshop and laid down prior to printing the final black outline, now bringing the final number of colors up to eleven... just where we like it.

The final prints are trimmed and then packed carefully by Jodi, who builds custom boxes to make sure they arrive at John's doorstep safe and sound. The posters are signed, numbered, and then returned to us in Minneapolis. It's one hell of an adventure and we can't wait to start the next one!