Case Study: Go to the Light Abstract Calligram

Thumbnail image for Go to the Light Abstract Calligram case study by Jake Rainis

18"x18" screen print on French Black paper

I had the honor of showing my work in a unique gallery show called "Go to the Light". This show took place in Massachusetts in October 2016 and featured a variety of artists. What made this show so unique was that all of the artist's work were screen printed with glow-in-the-dark and blacklight reactive ink.

'Go to the Light' Abstract Calligram by Jake Rainis

The entire show was in a dark, blacklight-lit gallery with all of the artwork glowing. It was quite the sight!

When I was asked to create a piece for this show, I knew I wanted to submit an impactful abstract blackletter calligraffiti piece.

At the time, I was spending hours of time experimenting with layering different opacities of colors into abstract circular compositions. I figured this would be a perfect treatment for my piece.

Fortunately, I had the opportunity to consult with my brother, John Rainis (http://johnrainis.com) who happens to be a professional screen-printer and artist. John was the printer who brought the piece to life and his help and advice was integral in the successful execution.

'Go to the Light' Abstract Calligram by Jake Rainis

To get the conversation started, I created a smaller version of what I had in mind. This piece only took a couple hours and acted as a prototype that would inform the discussion with John as well as the approach we'd take in prepping the artwork for print.

Using Golden High-Flow Acrylic ink in Titanium White, I was able to mix different consistencies of ink in my Pilot Parallel. This allowed me to create the layered effect.

'Go to the Light' Abstract Calligram by Jake Rainis

John approved the design and came up with several ideas for a printing approach. With the approval, I got to work on the final piece.

'Go to the Light' Abstract Calligram by Jake Rainis

The actual artwork was only 15"x15", but it took several tries over the course of a couple days to get it just right. I wanted to make sure that the layers were prominent, but not so contrasted that it would make isolating different layers for the film and printing screens impossible.

'Go to the Light' Abstract Calligram by Jake Rainis

Prepping this piece ready for print was more difficult than actually creating it.

Because the piece is so detailed and I didn't have the proper photography skills or equipment, photographing the work was out of the question. I didn't have access to a large-format scanner, so I had to scan the piece in quadrants and stitch them together in photoshop.

Once they were stitched, I duplicated the scan into several layers. Using a mix of different opacity and threshold setting, I was able to produce a multi-layer file ready for print.

'Go to the Light' Abstract Calligram by Jake Rainis

Inversed for film development

Once these were passed off to John, he got to work on creating the films for each layer.

'Go to the Light' Abstract Calligram by Jake Rainis
'Go to the Light' Abstract Calligram by Jake Rainis
'Go to the Light' Abstract Calligram by Jake Rainis

There were a total of 4 films, which were burned on to 4 corresponding screens.

John remarked of the difficulties that came along with printing this piece. Not only did the detail make the multi-layer registration tedious, it also had to be printed on black paper with untraditional inks.

The final product was nothing short of incredible.

'Go to the Light' Abstract Calligram by Jake Rainis

In the dark, the layers stacked just as elegantly as they did in the original work. Due to the way the multiple layers of ink float on top of each other, the calligram almost looks surreal in the dark.

'Go to the Light' Abstract Calligram by Jake Rainis

Taking a look at the detail shot below, you can see even in the light, the print is still vibrant. And it even has a shimmer due to the iridescent inks.

'Go to the Light' Abstract Calligram by Jake Rainis