Part of the screen printing process involves running test passes of ink prior to pulling (i.e. printing) a color in an editioned work. This process allows kinks and inconsistencies to be worked out in advance. Ink opacity, hue and consistency are all assessed in relation to the substrate and the resulting prints are called “make-readys”.
Rather than waste raw material, these make-readys can be kept and reused, resulting in layer upon layer of randomized color and image. The results are surprising and inspiring—some combinations are beautiful, others hideous. Colors can clash and compositions can be ruined with each pull of the squeegee, yet the decision to add each additional layer is a gamble worth taking. The results often unlock new ideas and lead to new work. But knowing when to stop is the hard part. The thrill and anticipation of pulling that next color and seeing the results is almost too much to bear, knowing that at any moment you can ruin what you had. It’s completely addictive.
What I find compelling is that these “unofficial” prints become an extension of the “official” print edition. They become an anti-edition, if you will, running parallel to the true edition. The process of creating a make-ready runs counter to that of creating an edition, which at it’s core is an exercise in control and planning to achieve a predetermined outcome. The make-ready on the other hand is a unique artifact created in the moment; the best ones derived from a complete lack of planning.
Yet the make-ready can never truly be separated from it’s parent edition. The two are intrinsically linked as they’re born of the same pieces. But it is the make-ready’s unique arrangement of these pieces that determines it’s status as a vaguely familiar “other”.
This is one recent example that I’ve pulled from the stacks. It incorporates art from four different editions.