My Screen Printing Journey


Maura Mansker, Journalist

When asked if I have any special skills or fun facts about myself, I usually don’t mention that I own a small business. Not every teenage girl can be found screenprinting out of her kitchen. It all started when I was 15, just a freshman in high school, with all the time in the world on my side, and some supportive parents. 

When the world went into a lockdown in 2019, I found myself with a lot of spare time. I resorted to art and creating, because that is something that has always been a large part of my life. Then the idea that I could start sharing my art with my community was a fascinating one, and I made it come to life. I started an Instagram account, initially to just post my drawings and other art, but soon, it grew widely. I had the idea to make tshirts that my friends could buy for cheap, and I even would donate the money in a time where the world seemed to be collapsing. I invested in screen printing, and at a time where studios and art stores were not offering classes like I had hoped, I taught myself the ways of this form of art. And with that, Maura Makes Art was born. 

I never planned on creating a business. I can say that this wouldn’t be the same thing it is today without the lockdown from COVID. With my schedule before online school and the cancellation of my sports seasons, I barely had time for hobbies, besides the occasional art project. Finding something that I really liked made me build a work ethic so that my business could continue to grow, even when I returned to school and sports, not to mention three other jobs. I only wanted to share my art in the beginning, I was never planning on making it a source of income, or being a teenage entrepreneur. But now that it has given me both of those things, it has made me rethink my future, and now I hope to study business or entrepreneurship in college. 

The beginning of my journey started when I got a kit for screenprinting one year, just finding out what this art form was. It sat in my basement for years until I pulled it out and decided to learn how to use it. 

Screen printing is a widely practiced skill, but also, very vague at the same time. I’ve watched hundreds of YouTube videos on making screens and printing to perfection, yet there is only one art store in Seattle that can provide me with screens, ink, and other essentials to screenprinting. Block printing was something that I did in middle school in art class, and I was given a kit, and decided to try it on fabric. And it worked,  giving me another medium to work with and a new style to develop, outside of just silk screens.

The design process has always been the most tedious, but also the most fun. It takes a long time for me to brainstorm and draw up a design that I like to represent my brand. But also, seeing my own art on clothing is rewarding and special to me, because that’s what makes my business my own. I wouldn’t say that I have a specific style for my screen printed work, even though I have my own art style off of fabric. The art on shirts I create is much different from the art that litters my sketchbooks and walls, simply because complexity in screen printing isn’t something I have mastered. With some time, I will be able to get down a style that is recognizable as my own.

Since the beginning, I have always been looking for ways to grow. From working with teams, companies, and college Greek systems, the future of Maura Makes Art is looking great. However, when asked if I am going to start a website or sell to companies, I don’t see it in my immediate future. As a junior in high school, I have a lot of time to grow, and I also have 5 years of school left, 4 of which I won’t be at home with my kitchen studio, or all of the time in the world. So for now, my Instagram sales, collaborations, and street fair vending works for me. Growth will come with time, but I do hope one day to have a studio for this business, people to help me work, and a nation or world wide website and shipping system. 

Like I said before, it’s not something I talk about all the time, but it’s also not a secret. I’ve shown teachers my work, my friends are constant costumers, and I see sweatshirts in high schools around Seattle that I made in my kitchen. Perhaps one day it will be my fun fact, that I started a business when I was 15, but for now, it is just a hobby for my free time.