The flat and stylized illustrative work of Charley Harper has impacted the art world. He said that his approach has caused him to be “the only wildlife artist who has never been compared to Audubon.” His brightly colored work, simple textures and creative patterns made beautiful compositions and paintings. His painting style was conducive to silk-screen printing, a process that easily translated his rich pallet and vibrant illustrations onto the paper.
While original paintings by Harper are one-of-a-kind and sell for upwards $5,000, prints are much more affordable for the average collector and admirer. There are several different print options available, including:
Serigraphs/Silk Screens: $100-$4,000
· 500-2500 limited edition prints made of each image
· Signed by Charley Harper (except for Ford Times)
· Limited edition prints
· Stamped (embossed) with Harper’s signature
· Archival inks used in inkjet printing process
· Unlimited (open) editions
· Unnumbered and Unsigned
· Printing with flat plates
Recommended and Taught by a Friend
The process of screen-printing was first suggested to Harper by an artist friend; Harper recalled in his autobiography, “One of my fellow artists, Ray Podesta, suggested that my work was well suited to silk-screen printing, a process with which he was experienced, and he helped me with the reproduction of many of my designs.”
The silk-screen process involves a stencil created with a screen. Part of the screen is blocked from allowing ink to pass and ink is then forced through the part of the screen that has been left unblocked, creating a flat, one-color shape on the paper. Each color requires a separate screen, alignment to previous layers and imprinting process.
Frustration of Compounding Degrees of Difficulty
Harper notes, “I was immediately attracted to the process and found its limitations a further stimulus to the simplification of my designs.” The screen-printing process can be tedious and difficult, compounded with each stencil creation and registration process. Harper recalls:
Indeed, some of the most traumatic experiences of my life have resulted from the difficulties and frustrations encountered in silk-screen printing. But it is the ideal process for prints of my work. And I feel that, of all printing processes, it provides the most Intimate contact between artist and viewer.
This intimate contact is what drove Harper to create these prints of his work. The beautiful translation of his work onto the paper was pushed to be further stylized and simplified with this difficult approach and the complication each new layer added. “The rich surface of the print has all the quality of an original,” remarked Harper, “In fact, I find my prints are usually more satisfying than the originals.”