Chasing perfection in serigraphy
Antonio Tsigonias and his Garden Institute in Athens won a FESPA Award for six separations and solving the problems of moiré phenomena.
This reproduction of an original oil painting by the Garden Institute in Athens won a FESPA 2023 Silver Award in the Serigraphies and Fine Art category. Six screens were separated into CMYKOG to maximise colour accuracy with UV ink, and the proofs were then pulled, controlled and corrected by the printer with the participation of the artist. The edition is 50 x 70cm and is on Old Mill Avorio 300gsm paper. The printing also included three layers of white to prime the surface and a UV security ink to authenticate the print. We spoke to Master Printer Antonio Tsigonias, who oversaw the work.
What was the brief, and what were you attempting to achieve with the work?
We wanted to reproduce a run of silkscreen prints out of an original artwork, full of colour variations and gradient details. The collaboration with artist Christodoulos Galtemis gave us the opportunity to realise his original artwork print ‘Psirri’, which is named after and inspired by a neighbourhood in central Athens.
How were you inspired to do the work?
To implement the project’s separations, and after a thorough study of the prototype, I decided that it could be correctly reproduced by selecting additional channels of enriched colour information. The reproduction was printed using two additional channels – orange and green – as the prototype is very rich in colour in these spectral areas.
How long did you have to complete the project?
The whole project was completed in around three months. The study of colour and tonal gradations using printed colour scales; measurements of dot percentages; construction of correction curves; preparation of the proper ideal inks; the printing of them to balance the achromatic grey zones – these are some of the tasks that were implemented before printing the tirage. The whole study took about nine or 10 weeks, while the printing and retouching process took about seven days.
What are the benefits of the material choices you made?
By using a medium-grade raster, even analogue, can result in a rich result both in terms of colour and tone. With the image separation and recompositing technique during printing, the dots used are smaller in size than those used in four-colour since the colour is composed of six components. The whole study – including the choice of film materials used for printing inks, mesh and so on – proved it is possible to correctly reproduce works of art.
What were the key challenges involved in the project relating to technology, materials, installation, design and sustainability?
There were many challenges. The main ones involved preparing the ideal inks and smoothing out the neutral greys from the ink imprint. Studying and solving the problem of moiré phenomena was even more difficult but was overcome by using a non-isotropic dot shape. A major challenge is that the whole study in terms of image separation and materials has no ready-made industrial options, so everything had to be prepared from scratch.
How did you overcome those challenges?
The use of appropriate quality control instruments has helped to solve several concerns about the organization of the cadaveric workflow for breeding. Spectrophotometer densitometer, tensiometer, flow cup and precision balance were some of the instruments that helped in solving unwanted problems.
In addition, it is important to have knowledge of inks and pigments, ink additives and solvents acts as a catalyst for proper imprinting of the dot and helps a lot in the minimum spreading of the dot. The standardisation of the entire workflow helped avoid significant problems.
How many people were involved in the project?
The main team was made up of five Garden Institute partners, so in total 10 to 15 people were actively involved. I am very happy because my mentor Alkis Dousias and many of my former students at the Graphic Arts School of the University of West Attica took part in this particular reproduction effort.
What was your favourite aspect of the product?
Apart from making and recording the recipes of the inks, printing the green and orange separation gradients was particularly interesting for me.
What was the feedback from the oil painter on the reproduction of his work?
Just before he signed the works, the artist looked me in the eyes after he had lowered his glasses to his nose and said to me: “Hey Tsigonias, the reproduced work is better than the original painting!”
How sustainable were your processes?
The study and recording were not an easy process – I won’t pretend that I didn’t struggle to organise the workflow properly. But I especially enjoyed the printing process when we saw the prototype being regenerated. In this respect, a recorded study was produced in addition to the reproduction of the project. I believe that the whole project involved sustainable processes.
What does winning a FESPA award mean to you?
I would like to thank the judges and say that it is a great honour for me that this work was chosen to be presented at the FESPA Global Print Expo in Munich. It is an even greater honour that we managed to win second place in a very demanding category. The recognition of our printing work gives us the courage to keep working as a team to create even better print reproductions. At this point I would like to express my sincere thanks to all my colleagues.
The FESPA Awards will return in 2025 – for more information please visit here.
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