Before we'd ever made a jacket. Before we even knew how Paynter was going to work. we knew one thing. Inside each of our jackets, there'd be a care label that would be different to most.
On one side: 'Take care of your jacket’, on the other, 'Take care of yourself’. The label is hidden inside every jacket. It’s always been popular with our customers, but in the last few months, it has taken on a life of it's own.
It’s just a label, but it's gone kinda viral on Instagram. Sometimes we were credited. Most of the time not. It has now been seen by millions of people and shared by some of the biggest accounts. Yup, we’re looking at you F*ckJerry.
It has also been copied. Translated into multiple languages and even been used as advertising... by other brands. Naughty!
Don’t Sit on Old Work.
People fear a blank page. But it’s good to feel like a beginner again. It gives us a fresh start. A chance to think differently. You’re no longer anchored to old ideas. You’re free again. Starting from scratch means trying new things. A new direction.
So, to pay homage to our little care label we’re making it into our first print. Then, once the print is done, the label will be gone forever. We’ll be starting afresh.
On the 20th of March we got an email from one of our followers, Dan Mather:
This was great timing, because we had just decided it was the last time we'd ever use the label.
So, to celebrate this little label, we spent two months going back and forth with Dan to get our print just right. Giving it the same time and attention as we do with our jackets.
The Paynter Print - A Limited Edition available between 9am and 9pm on Saturday 20th June 2020, then never again.
For just one day, this print will be available to buy. We will print what we sell. Once it’s gone, it will never be back. Every piece will be screenprinted by hand in London by Dan Mather, an expert printer at the top of his game. And one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.
So to bring you in behind the scenes, we sat with Dan to find out more about his process, and how he got into printing. Well actually, we’d have loved to have sat with him, but to keep things safe we interviewed him over emails and phone calls.
Dan Mather is an independent screenprinter, graphic artist and lecturer based in London. He specialises in silkscreen printing for artists, designers and illustrators, producing limited-edition screenprints by hand. When you work with Dan, there’s just one man, from quote to dispatch, and it’s been that way for almost a decade.
How did you get into screen printing?
I fell in love with the process whilst studying graphic design at the esteemed London College of Communication (formerly Printing) and fell in love with the silkscreen workshop. The thought that I could print onto any material was unlike anything I’d experienced before. I used the print room every week for 3yrs and graduated with not only a degree in Graphic Design, but a vocational skill and memories I’ll never forget. I’ve always had a technical approach to life, and I think having the opportunity to study alongside print technicians was very special. Working for myself now I get to do everything, which I love.
It’s a long process, from the artworking to the set up and the printing itself.
Do you think the slower process makes you more thoughtful as a designer?
Without a doubt. My mind works in layers all the time, I look at work on a screen and immediately translate it to screenprint. Printing can take hours, and when I say hours, I mean weeks, sometimes months. The time stood printing and being able to think is incomparable. The same thought process wouldn’t come from sitting at a desk or in a meeting, as it does from printing. The process inspires my design work, and the constant learning and honing of this craft makes my designs more process driven.
If you could print the work of any artist or designer, whose work would it be?
The late great Tom Eckersley would have been just beautiful. His work had (and still does) have such an impact on me. Founding the very course I went on to study at LCC and even being asked to talk about his legacy at London Design Festival event was very humbling. Karel Martens too, which could still be a possibility. Eye Magazine, Vitsoe & Campagnolo are also on the wish-list should anyone who works there be reading this.
For this limited edition, you’ll be printing our care label.
Please can you talk us through the process from beginning to end?
First, we tweaked the artwork for A4, then sent it off to the film supplier on the Old Kent Road. They produce the finest imageset films for silkscreen, over the past decade we’ve formed a great relationship and I can always rely and trust they’ll meet my exacting standards. Once ready I collected in person (safely) on my Brompton. I like to do as much transporting of materials as I can on my bike, it not only gives me time to think about projects but ensures I safely get the goods back to work and promptly. Bike is best!
Then I set about making the screen. To prep the screen, I wash and degrease any residue from the mesh. Once clean and dry, I apply a smooth layer of photosensitive emulsion onto the mesh. This is carried out in a light safe room, very much like the darkroom process using traditional negatives. The emulsion is baked and cured in a drying cabinet, effectively a massive oven for screens.
Now the emulsion is dry, it’s time to expose the artwork onto the screen. This is done with an exposure unit and the film I collected earlier. When the UV rays are turned on, the film is sucked down onto the screen, and after 5 minutes, the photosensitive emulsion hardens, leaving only the 100% black parts of the image: the lettering and graphics. Those areas remain unexposed and can be washed off.
Once rinsed, I’ll look for any pinholes and touch them up with emulsion and a paint brush, and expose the screen again, carefully making sure nothing is interfering with the image. Now I can proof the print, to check colours and ensure the print table is setup correctly.
My wonderful print table is a Kippax hand bench, made to order, in West Yorkshire by hand. It’s my pride and joy. The top frame opens and closes in a clamshell fashion, opening and closing a vacuum on the base of the table, which draws air through lots and lots of holes - holding the paper in place when printing.
I tested lots of reds, and although there was a Pantone, we wanted to push the vibrancy as much as possible and tweak the formula slightly to really make it sing. Once a few had a been tested it was clear which colour to go for, all of us simultaneously picking the same one without hesitation.
Once the red and black had been proofed and signed off, I set about printing the first 100 in the edition. Black ink first. The ink is pulled across the screen by hand with a squeegee, ensuring the correct amount of pressure and speed is achieved to print as crisp as possible. The ink is pushed back to the top with a flood stroke, ready for the next print. Repeat until all sheets are printed and arranged on the drying rack.
The following day the prints are dry and ready for the second colour to be printed. Our agreed Paynter Red. The same screen is used by simply masking the black parts of the screen, ensuring only the red text will print this time. The screen and sheets are then registered to each other, making sure the layers align and match the original artwork. Millimetre precision here, in-fact I coin the phrase “I live my life a 1/4mm at a time”.
There’s a huge sense of relief and satisfaction when you’ve finished printing all the colours on a print, it’s something to admire seeing them all on the drying rack and the ink on these prints really stood well against the lace white board. Very happy. Now to clean the screen and equipment and let the prints dry for a day before trimming them down to size.
A couple of days later I cut each sheet down on an electric guillotine, ensuring none of the beautifully thick material got damaged. Trimming all four sides of the sheet, presenting the final A4 print in all its beauty, and the best bit of all, leaning one against the wall and the material doing what I wanted. Standing strong and proud.
Finally the prints are carefully boxed and packed with acid free tissue between each print, and prepared for Becky and Huw to collect. I even print the packaging that I wrap the prints in, so the parcel is immediately identifiable as 'The Print'.
And that's the first 100 prints complete.
What is it that you love about the process?
It’s a very personal process, which I think is largely why I do it. Manually handling each sheet into the press. Each colour, one at time, sometimes several times when working on 10+ colour prints. I find this creates a very personal relationship with every print. That feeling of being close to, and caring for what I’m printing is lovely.
If you would like a print from this limited run, you can find out all about it here.
Prints will be available from 9am until 9pm on Saturday 20th June, then never again.
Or why not visit Dan Mather's site here to see his latest work.