New Printing Experiments

If I had a dollar for every time someone has suggested to me (at a craft show or otherwise) that I should make screen printed items with my drawings, well . . . I’d have quite a handful of dollars. At almost every show I do, someone says to me either, “are these screen printed?” or “You should make t-shirts!” To be truthful, I do have one screen printed item in my shop, my “Eat Well & Slowly” canvas tote bag, but that’s where my screen printed line starts and ends.

Really, I agree with everyone—screen printed t-shirts and bags would be a natural and wonderful direction for me to go because of the nature of my drawings, but I have stalled for two reasons:

1. It’s expensive to get items screen printed by someone else
2. I have been afraid of taking on the feat of screen printing myself

While there’s nothing much I can do about the first reason, I’ve known that the second one is something I could (and probably should) take on. You see, I’ve actually taken a screen printing class (2 of them actually, if you include a one-night workshop), but the product of the class was less than spectacular, and I just let the whole thing drop off afterward. My excuses have been that I like to draw (not print), and it would take a long time to get good enough at screen printing to make something worthy of selling. Also, I have it lodged in my head that I’m just too un-careful to work with wet ink—you know the stories we play in our heads? Mine for screen printing is a movie of me touching all of the shirts with inky fingers and ruining them.

This lengthy explanation was all a lead up to announce that I have decided to put my nose to the grindstone, bite the bullet, break down the barriers (and any other cliche you can think of) and really spend some time practicing screen printing to see if I can start making my own shirts, etcetera.

I have to confess, I did not arrive here on my own—I was talking with a fellow seller at my last craft show, a lovely woman named Brandy from Zen Threads, who convinced me that it wouldn’t be that hard to get a grip on screen printing. After talking with her, I came up with an action plan: I would buy a screen printing lab pass for the next 5 weeks at our local Craft Center, and do an “independent study” (basically force myself to go practice for a couple of hours each week, kind of like a class).

Of course, the shirt that I’ve been meaning to make for several months now is a bicycle shirt, so I started with that. Here’s the product of my first two weeks on the job:

I went and got a bunch of t-shirts at the thrift store to practice, and I’m really enjoying all of the different colors! The printing is not perfect, but my goal is to just practice right now—not worry about making shirts to sell. So far, I’m having a lot of fun and finding that the hardest step was just deciding to start working at it! Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in what needs to be done right now that I write off doing things that will take more time to perfect, but be so worth it in the end. So, yay for screen printing, and yay for long-term goals!

Also, I must make a disclaimer: I just noticed that Zen Threads also has a bike shirt with a very similar layout to mine . . . hmmm . . . that’s funny. I swear I did not see that shirt at the show! Don’t know where I came up with the idea to place the bike off-centered, it was just what I thought would be most interesting.

In other printing news, I have been in love, I mean IN LOVE with letterpress printing for a long time, and have been longing to take a class and learn how to do it! I’ve been browsing the printing classes at San Francisco Center for the Book for about three years, and now finally, finally, I have signed up for one! The class isn’t until July (they’re very popular), but I’m so excited, I can’t stand myself! I will definitely share the results with you when the time comes!

I’m pretty much at the beginning of a printing renaissance over here! It’s lovely! We’ll see how it all shakes down, but for now, it’s pretty exciting!


13 Responses to “New Printing Experiments”

  1. 1 Jenny May 13, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Love ’em, Nicole!!!

  2. 2 kiwiartz May 13, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Dear ,
    I admire the work you put into your site. I came across it and noticed that there are some similarities with our project. KiwiArt is the name of our website, in which we invest a lot of time. Please take a second to take a look at our domain. We are a Free Art Classifieds website that allows artists of all crafts to post their services or works free of charge (without registration, advertisements or hidden fees)! If our mission and website philosophy interests you, it would be extremely helpful and appreciated if we could obtain a possible link from your site. If you’d like to give us a hand, you may always contact us at If you’d like anything in return from our end, we are always open to negotiations. Thank you for time and consideration.

    Paris Fotis & Matheos Zaharopoulos

  3. 3 Era May 13, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Wow, congratulations on getting to work! It’s that first step that’s the hardest, as we all know. I can think of a few places where those “practice” tee shirts could find a good home (ahem).

  4. 4 artproject2010 May 13, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    The shirts look FABULOUS! I’m so proud of you for getting out there and trying something new! I know what it’s like to put off exploring a particular media forever with a laundry list of excuses. I’ve never heard of the craft center or SF Center for the book either! They sound like great places. I hope you have tons of fun! Can’t wait to see more. :)

  5. 5 Kerri May 17, 2010 at 2:14 am

    Goodness, if I can screen print you can! I am the clumsiest person ever, and I constantly have to check my hands for ink, and make sure I do everything slowly and carefully. I don’t know if the prints have to be perfect, we are humans not machines after all. I’m laughing while I’m writing this however because I obsess over every print! I think your designs would be brilliant screen prints! I think you’re on to something here x

  6. 6 Kerri May 17, 2010 at 2:15 am

    Oh p.s I am so jealous of your letter press class! I love it too. Don’t know if I can take a class out here in the country!

  7. 7 B May 22, 2010 at 4:23 am

    Love the shirts! I’m so jealous of the resources/classes you have available to you there… I have been checking up on screen printing myself and was overwhelmed just reading about it! So very impressed, Nicole. Very nice. Can’t wait to see what you do with the letterpress class.

  8. 8 Malea May 30, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Nicole, I *just* now am seeing this post! Are you selling these shirts???? Either way, I would *love* to buy one!!!

  9. 9 Victoria May 31, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    I love these! They look fantastic – good work!

  1. 1 A Block Printing Adventure « blue bicicletta Trackback on June 21, 2010 at 10:24 am
  2. 2 Sneak Peek: new t-shirt design: Slow Down « blue bicicletta Trackback on July 2, 2010 at 11:06 am
  3. 3 My First Letterpress Specimen! « blue bicicletta Trackback on July 15, 2010 at 10:42 am

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Hello there! My name is Nicole K. Docimo, and I am an artist and writer from the U.S.A. but currently residing in Zurich, Switzerand. Thank you for visiting my blog!

Some Thoughts

"Be thirsty for the ultimate water,
and then be ready for what will
come pouring from the spring."

{from "Joy at Sudden Disappointment"
translated by C. Barks.}

~This Work ~

Unless otherwise noted, all images and writings on this blog were created by me, Nicole K. Docimo aka Blue Bicicletta. If you would like to share anything you see here for inspirational purposes online, I just ask that you kindly let folks know where you found it. If you are wanting to share/reproduce any of my work in any other way, or have any questions about how you will be sharing the work in relation to copyright, please contact me directly at nkdocimo {at} gmail {dot} com. Thanks!

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