Self-Expression through the Art of Screenprinting

By Nish Israni, SKETCH Placement Student

Nish Israni is a student from George Brown College who did her placement at SKETCH during our Winter art-making season. She is inspired by the environment at SKETCH and wanted to represent it through her favourite art medium, writing. She hopes to become a social worker someday. 

The snow is falling hard on the windows, yet the sun is shining through. It’s a winter wonderland and I am in the SKETCH studios, located inside the Artscape Youngplace building, watching folks as they engage in some screenprinting. Some folks are working away at re-purposing their screens, removing the staples, and putting on new material while some are scribbling away at their designs in anticipation of creating new prints for their swag. The atmosphere is charged with creativity in action.

I watch an artist, Alex, meticulously drawing skateboards as if they were being tossed up into the air. I admire his artwork, from afar, intrigued when he tells me that he loves to skateboard at the park. He is from Peru, here in Toronto for two years so far.

Luka (above and below)

As we strike up a conversation, I find out many interesting things about him, and his screenprinting journey at SKETCH.  Alex had been looking for a place where he could do screen printing for a while, but everything he found was quite expensive. When a little birdie told him about SKETCH, he decided to come check it out and was pleased to find a screenprinting studio, as well as all the other artistic expressions that SKETCH offered. He was inspired by the folks who attended SKETCH, especially those who dabbled in screen printing as their medium. He started to think more creatively. One day while on a walk by the lake, the logo for his up-and-coming brand dawned on him. It would be a flying fish, the very first design he created in the screenprinting studio at SKETCH.

Channelling his creativity at SKETCH is in stark contrast to what Alex was studying in school, Supply and Chain Management. SKETCH offers him a space to explore his interests, and be connected to his artistic soul. He is proud of the artistic growth he has made at SKETCH through screen printing as well as ceramics. Since his father passed away, Alex has found a way to continue his legacy as he expresses himself through the arts. Turns out his father was quite the artist too. Alex even has begun the process of transforming space at his home into a screen printing studio so that he can immerse himself in the business of screen printing. SKETCH has been a stepping stone for Alex so that he may further his dreams, whereas in Luka’s case, SKETCH provides an escape from the dreary routine of his week, a place to come and make some art.

Luka likes to screenprint because he feels it’s cheaper than buying clothes, and gives him freedom to make shirts that he wouldn’t be able to acquire elsewhere. He follows a lot of obscure bands that don’t have their own merchandise, especially bands from other countries so he creates prints that showcase them, and spread their gospel. He really likes the DIY style of screenprinting, as it draws him in to be more creative with his expression, and it helps save money while looking fashionable. He recalls the first time he ever entered the screenprinting studio, and how daunting it seemed but found that it really wasn’t that difficult. He hopes that folks won’t be deterred by the equipment or the look and feel of the screen printing studio because it’s worth it once you produce your own swag. SKETCH has all the materials you could need, and an awesome instructor in Rosa with tons of experience under her belt to guide you along.


Raj, another artist,  travels an hour back and forth just to make it to SKETCH. It’s the only place that fuels his creativity in so many directions, such as music, photography, visual arts, ceramics and screen printing. He believes in the power of positivity and creates prints that reflect that, and which uplift those he sees on the streets. He is most proud of his work in creating a print that says, “Why just rest in peace, why not live in peace too?”


I think that’s a fine motto to live by, and one that begs the question of what it takes to live in peace. For the folks who attend SKETCH and find so many ways to live, love and tell their art to the world find peace in their expression. When you are making the art that is most compelling to you, it’s easier to sleep at night. Making art is a powerful, healing and transformative experience that can shape and shift your perspectives into dreaming a better world for yourself and others.