Hand silk-screen printing is a fully-fledged profession today, one that should be preserved. Thus, it is good news that there are hand silk-screen printing workrooms in Prague. One of them is Analog!BROS in the Mánesova Street in Vinohrady. It was established in 2012 by four friends - Jakub Stýblo, Michal Škapa, Vladimír 518 and Štěpán Adámek.
After two years these analogue brothers adopted a sister – experienced illustrator Kristina Ambrozová. Their silk-screen printing studio shares the space with 44" Print, an associated project founded by one of the four co-founders of Analog!BROS, Jakub Stýblo. Clients of P44" Print, which focus on ink giclée print, are photographers, illustrators, designers, architects, galleries and museums. Works by the two printing rooms are available at Poster 44, a commercial gallery, where you get a certificate signed by the author and a series number with every print made. There is a rule with giclée print that there can be a max of 44 prints made in one series – as hinted by the studio’s name.
There are two silk-screen printing machines at Analog!BROS – one for screen and paper and one for textile. The studio primarily focuses on work of the Analog!BROS members and other artists, rather than on outside orders. During our visit, we were especially admiring beautiful prints inspired by Villa Tugendhat, made by Kristina Ambrozová. You can see how silk-screen printing looks on textile with Analog!BROS merchandising – in the form of T-shirts and hoodies for fans.
There are four professionals behind Analog!BROS - Jakub Stýblo, Michal Škapa, Vladimír 518 and Štěpán Adámek. How did you get together and who initiated the idea of establishing a silk-screen printing workroom?
We were talking with Vladimír for a long time about our dream to have a silk-screen printing workroom – not a business, workroom, where we can get together with friends and print. When I was convinced it was about to happened, I mentioned it at one gallery that I like visiting both in terms of work and my free time. Its owner, Mr. Pecka, was so excited about the idea that as a result I was soon on the phone with my friends to let them know that we can start buying equipment for the workroom. We didn’t have to do it the old method - printing on nylons stretched on frames lit with halogen lamps. The only thing we needed to do was to come up with a name. That was the fun part and it is a miracle that we did end up being called analog!bros and not, for example, ‘crack’ or ‘supahumans’. At that time we already had Štěpán Adámek, a friend from concerts and an amazing cartoonist, and Michal Škapa, who I didn’t know but had heard about. However, he didn’t stay with us for long and then we got Kristina Ambrozová.
Kristina Ambrozová joined Analog!BROS two years after its opening. What changes did the female element bring into your workroom?
In size I would compare it to the last earthquake in Nepal and it happened even before she joined us at analog!bros – same how it usually goes with earthquakes, haha. Kristina has a good sense of detail and an incredible desire to work. So we can now have and use everything we ever wanted and needed: merch, wrapping papers, stickers, cards, postcards and other bits and pieces that are very important, though. Then she printed a seven-colour print herself and I was impressed. Her efforts could not be overlooked anymore and she got the job.
There are two hand silk-screen printing tables in your workroom - one for silk and paper, the other one for textile. Could you briefly describe the process of printing to us?
What is more, Kristina, happy that we gave her the job, bought us a silk-screen printing machine for textile. It is nothing big – you can only print in one colour – but we needed it. We make our own merch on it along with various small orders for our friends and their projects. Our main activity depends on the big professional hand silk-screen printing machine of format B1. The process of printing is absolutely the same on both machines – only for T-shirts we use frames with a different density of silk and the printing desk is wooden in the shape of the T-shirt that is being made. The big table has a large perforated aluminium desk and paper literally sticks to the table because of negative press and it is possible to make a perfect print. Apart from this, the printing process is the same; you drawn a template or print it on plastic film or trace paper, then a light-sensitive emulsion is spread over a screen and left to dry. We didn’t have any money to buy an illuminating machine so we built it according to Michal’s design. During the illumination process light works with the emulsion and hardens it. Light cannot make the emulsion harden through black areas of prints. After illumination we clean the screen and the emulsion that didn’t harden will drain off, thus a motif appears. The screen is pinned to a table and we print.
What are the advantages of silk-screen printing over digital printing in your opinion?
The only advantage is its price. Even when it comes to printing a series in a lower amount. However, silk-screen is not always the suitable option. In our other studio 44" Print, dedicated to giclée prints, we use the best quality archive papers and screens according to a given standard. Workrooms like ours are not usual in Prague. The most important process is dependent on the printing machine, which bothers me! With silk-screen printing you can do whatever you want. In the printing process you get an idea and you realise it immediately. On the other side, there are a lot of things that can go wrong. So with silk-screen printing you are a printer while with digital printing you are only an operator.
There is a notice on Analog!BROS website that apart your own free work you will also accept outside orders but you have to like them. Have you got any orders that interested you enough that you were excited to work on them?
It is probably most of our orders, we are very lucky. Of course, we also get nonsense orders but then we are honest and decline them. Sometimes something we look forward to becomes boring – for example, business cards - so, as a result, we don’t do them anymore (we only did them like three times, anyway). Once the person who ordered them didn’t like them and declared that they were ‘too silk-screen-like’. I was confused :) Otherwise the work is a pleasure.
Which artists do you cooperate with? What prints do the best in sales?
We work with people who work in arts. So most of the people we cooperate with are our friends or friends of our friends.. To name some: David Böhm and Jirka Franta / Maria Makeeva / Prokop Bartoníček / Jan Hořčík / David Krňanský / Pasta Oner / Point / Obic / X-dog, and studios and projects: Anymadestudio / Maestrokatastrof / Carton Clan / PageFive / Bigg Boss / Drawetc / Trafačka r.i.p. / RAW / Art Amnesty / Festival otrlého diváka / Galerie Pecka... And our merchandising is selling like hot cakes, surprisingly. Look at our sale web gallery poster44.cz
where we sell, apart from our merch, prints of artists we work with and prints from analog!bros, too.