Mono Screen Printing

ink painted on a screen

Missing the screen print workshop? I know I am! But don’t worry, there are still ways of working with screen print even without our amazing facilities.

The first method I’m going to show you is mono screenprint.

Mono screenprint is a fun, versatile and spontaneous method of working, leading to some unique creative possibilities by allowing you to work in a playful and gestural way.

Working directly on to the mesh of the screen, it’s possible to paint, sponge, flick, drip and splatter ink, draw with pencils, charcoal and other water-soluble materials, to create unique prints.

overhead image of all equipment and materials required.


  • screen
  • squeegee
  • paper
  • acrylic ink
  • parcel tape or similar
  • ink pots
  • spatulas / spoons
  • brushes
  • sponge
  • water source

Optional, but helpful:

Please see the list of suppliers in the screenprint menu, or get in touch for advice before investing in more expensive items such as screens / squeegees / hinge clamps.

screen with taped border , clamped into place.
screen with taped border, using hinge clamps and board.
  1. Tape a border to create an aperture slightly smaller than your paper size. I have used this white tape but some parcel tapes can be used, such as Scotch 3M and Wilko own brand. I have hinge clamps to keep my screen in position while I print. You could ask a willing housemate to hold it still for you!
using washi tape to mark edges of printing paper
Registration marks using washi tape

2. Position your paper under the screen and mark one corner and one edge, as registration marks. I have used washi tape as the colour makes it easy to see, but you could use masking tape and colour it with a sharpie or similar.

pencil drawing on paper to be used as a guide
rough outline as a guide

3. You could draw a rough outline of the image you want to produce, or even use a photocopy/printout if you need more detail, and place this under the screen.

4. Get your inks ready. Any brand of acrylic will work, but remember you must mix it with at least 50% medium, you can’t use it straight from the tube. There are also ready mixed options available.

Here I have used some empty cake packaging (Thank you Mr.Kipling) as a kind of palette to mix small quantities in. I’ve got a selection of old brushes, sponge, bubble wrap and various other materials to use. Anything that can give you marks and textures is good, but don’t use anything sharp that could damage the screen mesh.

screen propped up
screen propped up away from the paper, using roll of washi tape

5. Prop your screen up slightly so it is not resting directly on the paper or board. I have used my roll of washi tape, but you could use something else.

6. You are ready to start painting!

painted image on the screen with tools
Image painted on the mesh

As acrylic inks dry quite fast so you will need to work fairly quickly. Don’t let the ink dry on the screen! Fill in as much of the mesh as you can. Any empty areas will allow the marks to smudge and drag as you pull the squeegee across. If you want blank areas, just use plain medium to fill in the gaps.

the squeegee positioned ready to print
Medium at the top of the image, ready to print

7. Once you have finished applying the ink, pour some printing medium at the top of the image. Remove the prop (my washi tape) from under the screen to lower it onto the paper. Without flooding the screen, just press down and pull the squeegee towards you to print. Once is enough.

the print on paper being revealed
the print is revealed

8. Lift your screen to reveal the print!

detail of print showing marks and textures
detail of marks and texture

There will now be residue of ink in the mesh, which allows you to print again to create one or two “ghost” prints. These are definitely worth printing as they can be used as a base layer to continue working on top of, with more printed layers, or drawing, or cutting up for collage.

Squeegee positioned to print again
printing the residue with tinted medium

Without flooding the screen, you can either add fresh medium to the top, or as I have done here, scoop up the now tinted medium from the screen and print again.

Scoop up as much ink as you can, and save into a new pot. Don’t throw it away!! It can be used again as a tinted medium, or you could add more acrylic to it to make a new colour.

Now you can choose to wash and dry your screen before starting again, or continue to add more ink.

Here I have carried straight on, using the ghost on the mesh as a rough guide, to create a similar image.

This technique can be used in combination with paper stencils or photo stencils too, or as a base layer for another process. Try drawing with charcoal or graphite sticks on the mesh for more linear work (carefully, don’t press too hard or the mesh might tear!)

For further inspiration, have a look at Katy Binks, Augustine and Bridgland, Charlotte Cornish and Alice Hartley

If you prefer live action, there’s a nice little video by American artist David Manje here .

mixed ink in a pot
Save your ink!

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