Screen Printing - October/November 2017 - 10
What might the future hold for the world of poster
making? One screen printer has a big idea.
ost people live in the world of now. But a handful live
in a world that doesn't quite exist yet: the world of five years
out. It's the tangible future, where possible meets practical to
produce new technologies that help make life better.
This past year, the Cherry Creek Arts Festival in Denver
partnered with sponsor Arrow Electronics in the Five Years
Out Arrow Art Challenge. This is an international competition to inspire artists to take the concept of innovation and
express what their particular art medium might look like in
five years. Through a competitive selection process, seven
finalists were awarded a commission to create a forwardthinking piece. Dan Stiles (danstiles.com), a Portland-based
artist/designer/screen printer, was one of them.
Over the past 20 years, Dan has worked with everyone
from indie bands to major corporations in creating advertising, posters, custom packaging, brand identities, and limited
edition collectable art and merchandise. His clients range
from Sonic Youth, Arctic Monkeys, and Sasquatch! Music Festival to Google, the X Games, and Nickelodeon. Not content
with being a standard-issue graphic designer, he fell down the
screen printing wormhole, and recently started linking poster
making with printed circuitry and music with his graphics.
The result? Modern-day alchemy.
"My interest in this started out with personal experiments," Stiles explains. "My design process is based on the
notion that one thing leads to another. I've always felt that
people should pursue what interests them creatively, even if
they have no idea where it will go. Originally, I wanted to see
what more could be done with a poster. I've been designing
and screen printing for more than 20 years and I wanted to
push past what I've been doing with the poster as a form."
His first step was animation: "I began to animate my work
in After Effects, but the final result was digital, not physical,
and too many people were already doing animation."
That led him to research new technologies that could
be used to bring physical print media into the 21st century.
Months of poring over technical articles, data sheets, and blogs
led him to a slew of new tech, much of which leveraged screen
printing as part of the process. "This was really exciting to me
because it was a process I already understood," Stiles says.
His first experiments used conductive inks and microcontrollers to make print pieces that interacted with computers. Essentially, the poster became an input device, just like a
keyboard, allowing it to talk to a computer.
"I would post a short video to social media of the final
piece and move on to the next project. It was actually my
wife who suggested I enter a proposal into the Arrow Five
Years Out Art Challenge. Normally, I'm too busy with work to
mess with contests, but since I already had videos of existing
experiments, I entered those along with a proposal for a more