Koi Fish Silkscreen Print – The Process


Today I’ll be taking you behind the scenes of how I created the koi fish silkscreen print. I always start with a pencil drawing for any artwork I create. Sometimes I do several drawings and collage them together in Photoshop to create a final drawing to work from. In this case I did a quick sketch of a koi fish to work from.


Next step is to break your image down into layers that you will print in succession. I didn’t take photos of all these steps, so sorry for the lack of photos. Once you have your layers figured out, you prepare the stencil for your screen. For my first layer I used Mask Ease to create the stencil. Once the screen is prepared, you can prep your other supplies. I cut down my paper as a first step, because at this point your hands are clean, and you don’t want to get your paper dirty. Next you mix your colors for the ink. For this print I made my own ink. I used Acrylic Extender Base (silkscreen ink without the pigment) and Pearl Ex powdered pigments. In the photo you can see my mixed ink.


This is the first layer that I printed. As you can see it is the basic shape of the fish. I will print the linework on the next layer. To get the different colors I put down several blobs of different colored ink on my screen and moved my squeegee around as I flooded the screen. That way the ink mixes together on your screen as you are printing. “Flooding the screen” is the first pass with your squeegee to get the ink into your screen before you pull the print.


Once your first layer is printed, you wash out your screen with water and let it dry. Once it is dry, you can prep your next stencil for the next layer. This layer is the linework. I used the drawing fluid method for this stencil. The blue you see on the screen is the drawing fluid. What you draw with the drawing fluid is what you are going to print (what you see is what you get).


Once the drawing fluid is dry, you flood the rest of the screen with screen filler (the red stuff). To do this I put a line of screen filler at the bottom of the screen and flood it with one stroke of the squeegee, just like I would with ink. I learned it’s important to do it with one stroke, because if you go over spots again, your stencil with fill in with screen filler, and then your stencil won’t work.


Once the screen filler is dry, you rinse out the drawing fluid with water. Then your screen is ready to print with, once it’s dry.


This is the second layer printed. I used blue ink and also mixed in some Pearl Ex pigment into the ink. It’s important to register your layers when you are printing, so everything is lined up. There are a few methods for doing this: one is to tape a piece of acetate down to your printing surface and print onto the acetate. Then you can line up your paper under the acetate print and register it that way. In this case I didn’t do the acetate method, because I tried it in previous projects with my home setup, and it didn’t work out very well. I simply eyeballed my screen position to my paper, and made registration marks with masking tape so I knew where to place my paper. Luckily it worked pretty well in this case.


The last step for this print was to apply the gold leaf. I used composite gold leaf (the real stuff is pricey). It is fairly easy to apply, but a little finicky because the gold leaf is delicate. I used a kit that came with adhesive and the gold leaf. First you apply a thin layer of adhesive with a brush (use a crappy brush, as the glue will ruin it). Let the adhesive dry, it will become tacky as it dries. Once it feels tacky, you can apply the gold leaf. Cut a small piece of gold leaf a little bigger than the area you want to apply it to. Apply it onto the adhesive using a brush to flatten it out. Then brush off the excess gold leaf. It takes a little getting used to using the delicate gold leaf, but I found it fairly easy to apply.

Hope you enjoyed reading about how I created the koi fish silkscreen print. Thanks for reading!

The Koi Fish Silkscreen print is available in my Etsy shop.

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Koi Fish Silkscreen Print – The Story


In this post I’m going to talk about the meaning and symbolism behind my koi fish silkscreen print. I’ve been thinking about getting a koi fish tattoo, but after an inquiry at a local tattoo shop, decided I can’t afford the tattoo I would like. But I still wanted to create some koi imagery, so I made a silkscreen print instead.

Koi is the Japanese word for carp. Koi were bred for their distinct coloring. Koi fish symbolize transformation, and overcoming adversity. They are considered strong because of their ability to swim against the current. There is a legend about the koi fish:

In Chinese and Japanese myth, there was a giant school of thousands of koi fish swimming up the Yellow River in China. They swam against the current, gaining strength. The Yellow River has a waterfall. Upon reaching the waterfall, most of the fish turned back, because it was too hard to swim against the current. The fish that remained continued to try to reach the top of the waterfall; for one hundred years they persisted. Finally, one koi fish successfully leaped to the top of the waterfall. As a reward, the gods turned the koi into a beautiful golden dragon. Source 1 Source 2

A koi fish swimming upstream has different meaning than one swimming downstream. Upstream means you are currently in a struggle or battle in life and are fighting and won’t give up. Downstream means you have already overcome your struggles, and are no longer fighting.

I used blue partly because it is my favorite color, and it also symbolizes peace, tranquility and calmness.

Thanks for reading!

The Koi Fish silkscreen print is available in my Etsy shop.

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Goals for 2018

To start off the new year, I thought I would share my 2018 business goals. I have divided my goals into three areas: Illustration, Gallery Work, and Etsy Shop. I’ll share my goals, and then the breakdown for each one. So let’s dive in.

Illustration Goals

Editorial – expand magazine art director list
Breakdown: go thru Maker Mentors list (that I purchased) and Writer’s Market book (get from library) magazine list. Go through lists and add to my CRM (my mailing list, I use Insightly) Add to quarterly email blasts.

Mail postcard with another item to my top 25 – 50 magazines that I want to work for
Breakdown: create postcard and get printed
create mailing list of top 25-50 magazines
create usable item (i.e.: post-its) and get printed
package and mail out postcard

Find mentor for business side of illustration
Breakdown: message previous instructors and see if they know anyone open to mentoring a relatively new illustrator

Gallery Work Goals

Group show at Dundarave in Oct/Nov 2018
Create new work (at least 5 pieces)
Breakdown: work on concepts for artwork
produce pieces – etching and silkscreen
frame pieces
market / promote show close to opening

Research how to approach small galleries

Etsy Shop Goals

Develop new products – birthday card, notebooks, stickers
Breakdown: create concepts & artwork for products
source printers – Awesome Merchandise / Moo
order / get products printed
take photos / list in Etsy shop
promote new products via email and Facebook, instagram

Re-launch blog – email capture
Develop email list
Breakdown: build WordPress site
write first few blog posts
launch / promote blog on facebook/instagram
capture emails – create sign up form on blog
use Constant Contact to organize mail list and mail out newsletter

Launch Facebook business page
Breakdown: create profile pic and cover photo
build Facebook page
write first few posts
launch site – promote / invite friends to “like” page
add Contant Contact Facebook App to add sign up form to page

Develop content for email subscribers and blog content
write blog posts – ask friend for help for topics brainstorm
plan blog schedule
plan email newsletter – schedule & content

So that’s my outline for 2018, I’ll adjust and adapt as I go along. I have attached timelines to some goals: January I am going to expand my magazine art director list and also create a top 25-50 list of magazines to mail my postcard to. For my Etsy shop, I have already re-launched my blog (by accident BTW – oops/hooray!) and have set up a sign up form for people to subscribe to my email list. January I plan to develop content for the blog and email newsletter, and figure out schedules for each.

So that’s my 2018 for business, what does your 2018 look like?

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Note: I am not receiving any compensation from any companies I have linked to, just sharing what tools I use for my business.




Goal Setting for 2018

The new year is a fresh start, and a popular time to set new goals. I’m going to discuss how I go about setting my business goals. A few months ago I made a goal sheet of 10 year goals, 5 year goals, and 2 year goals. The 10 year goals are dreams, big things I want to accomplish, for example being published in the New York Times. Five year goals are a little more practical, and two year goals are a step up from where I am now. I then went on to break down my two year goals into actionable steps; what to do to get to my two year goals. For example, one of my two year goals is to have my illustrations published in mainstream magazines. My breakdown of how to get there includes creating a top 50 list of magazines I want to be in and mailing out a postcard or special mailer to art directors. This would be in addition to my quarterly email blasts to my entire art director list.

For my 2018 goals I wrote down three categories: illustration, gallery work and Etsy shop, and wrote down my goals for each area. Then I took each goal and broke it down into actionable steps. For example my Etsy shop is new, and one goal I have is to develop new products. So my breakdown is:
– create concepts and artwork for products
– source printers
– order / get products printed
– take photos and list in Etsy shop
– promote new products via email or Facebook and Instagram

Once I have my goals and my breakdown, it’s time to decide when to do them. Basically I write down my Big Goals, then break those down into Monthly Goals, break that down into Weekly Goals, then break those down into Daily Goals.

This also applies to personal goals, for example a personal goal I have is to cook more at home (Big Goal). My Weekly Goal could be to cook two times a week and assign which days I will cook. My Daily Goals would include grocery shopping for my ingredients and cooking the meal.

Basically I take my Big Goals and break them down into small actionable steps. Once the goal is broken down, it is less abstract and more achievable.

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I will be writing on this blog weekly, probably updating on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.


Welcome to the re-launch of my blog! With this blog I plan to take you behind the scenes of my illustration business. I will be writing about the business side of illustration, and also about my process of creating my illustrations and products. I will also be posting here about new products in my Etsy shop. I also plan on producing an email newsletter about new products, and discounts or special deals available only to email subscribers. If you want to sign up for the newsletter, click on “Sign Up For Updates” in the sidebar and fill out the form.