Champaka Brussels draws on its experience and expertise to offer the artist the choice of print process and medium that best serves his work. Having its
serigraphy (screenprinting), Champaka maintains its excellence in this field. For certain projects,
lithography is the preferred process. In order to give a faithful and nuanced rendering of their work, Champaka has developed, for a number of artists, printing techniques that are based on a blend of printing processes. For prints that use the four-colour process, we work with
offset specialists who are experienced in fine-art commissions.
Champaka’s origins and founding objectives reflect the preoccupations of “Ligne Claire” or “Clear Line” style:
• to pay due homage to the renowned characters and creators of Belgian bande dessinée: “Valhardi” (Paape-Charlier), “Gil Jourdan” (Tillieux), “Bob et Bobette” (Vandersteen);
• to highlight the distinguished artists of the “Nouvelle Ligne Claire” style (Chaland, Floc’h, Serge Clerc, and Ted Benoit).
While mindful of history and tradition, Champaka sees its continuing role as a champion of “modern classic” bande dessinée.
Serigraphy is a process whereby a series of screens is created, each screen being composed of a fine, porous material such as nylon or polyester. By blocking off selected areas of the screen so as to render them non-permeable, the screen functions as a stencil. This allows the creation of an image by the application of coloured inks. A separate screen is used for each colour applied, and the completed image emerges from the successive layers of colour that compose it. The particular attraction of serigraphy lies in its richness of colour. The print’s full-tone areas are free of raster (unlike offset printing), and the inks can have properties of texture, tonal depth, brilliance, luminosity and transparency. Their vibrancy heightens the contrasts and pleasing juxtapositions of colour and tone. They also have the benefit of remaining stable and unaltered by UV light.
The lithographic process harnesses the incompatibility of oil and water as a means of creating an image. An image is drawn, using an oil-based medium, on a print plate composed of a suitable surface, whether it be fine-grained limestone, lithographic paper, or zinc. A solution of nitric acid emulsified with gum arabic is then applied to this surface, which serves to fix the drawing and expose the areas not treated, or protected, by the oil-based medium. These areas are thus rendered porous and receptive to water. The stone, or plate, is then dried and cleaned down with a turpentine solution and moistened, once again, with water. A roller is loaded with ink that has a high lipid content. When the roller passes over the plate, the oil-treated area (the drawing area) accepts the oil-based ink, whereas the water-treated area repels it. When this process is complete, the inked stone is overlaid with paper and placed in the print bed of a lithographic press. The even pressure exerted by the press transfers the ink, and the image, from the stone to the paper. The process requires that ink be re-applied before the stone should dry, and each print run necessitates a repeat of the inking process.
Offset is the printing technology that is most widely used in publishing, but it is not favoured by Champaka. In the offset process, the image is broken down into four basic colours, or separations : cyan, magenta, yellow and black (cmyk). The successive layering of these four colours will combine to reproduce the colours of the original artwork. The offset process is based on the same principle that underpins lithography: the mutual repulsion of oil (represented by printing ink) and water. An added feature of offset printing is that the image is not applied directly to the printing surface, but to a rubber-coated cylinder which in turn transfers it, in its positive form, to the paper. The choice of paper determines whether the print run will be achieved on rotary presses, which are fed by large rolls of paper, or sheet-fed machines, which print onto separate sheets for a more sophisticated finish. Champaka prefers to use this last method for its range of offset prints.
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