Invisible Ink

While we were on our usual hunt round the web to quench our thirst for all things print, innovation, textiles etc, we came across this wonderful protest posters which appeared as wild postings around downtown Vancouver earlier this year.

Rethink created the protest posters for The Dogwood Initiative as part of their ongoing No Tankers campaign; an endeavour to keep oil tankers out of BC’s coastal waters. Featuring water soluble inks, the posters revealed the protest message with the help of a little bit of rain:


Dogwood Initiative have a in-depth interview on their website with Rethink partners Dave & Todd, and when asked how they came up with the brilliant idea, this is what they said:

Dave: Todd had the initial idea of using a water-soluble ink that bled when it rained. After some discussion, we came up with the method of revealing the message as the ink bled away. We decided to make them wild postings and place them above existing posters to get the message across. Construction wall hoarding were a perfect fit because it offered free-media and allowed us to demonstrate our idea on old adverts and abandoned buildings. Thankfully there haven’t been any complaints. After that, it was a lot of thumb wrestling whilst wearing hiking boots and short pants.

Todd: At an early conceptual stage, Dave had tossed out the saying: “Oil and water don’t mix. That really stuck, and led in to thinking about the outcome of when the two fluids encounter each other, and how we could possibly demonstrate that effect. Vancouver, of course, inspired the rain and gave birth to our campaign idea.

It did get us thinking about our own archive, and the work of Sebastian White, who developed wallpapers at London Printworks as part of the 2007 exhibition we curated called Departure: further explorations in print.

Sebastian showed a series of printed wallpapers that when painted with water, brought out another colour – think of children’s magic colouring books and you won’t be far wrong.  Sebastian’s twin tree print covered a wall of the gallery and exhibition visitors made their own marks by using the paint brushes supplied and painting their own section. The final wall at the end of the exhibition was radically changed from the original.

As part of the London Design Festival, a special feature of the exhibition was held on 18th September 2007, Big Seb White’s Paint-in, a large scale outdoor invisible ink wallpaper. Watch the video below to see what happened….


About London Printworks Trust

London Printworks Trust is the centre of excellence for textile print. Our passion has continued for twenty years since establishing ourselves as a charity to encourage professional artists, designers and emerging talent to learn, to share ideas, to produce new work and to fulfil their creative potential. Through our specialist hand printing equipment and workshop facilities we support and nurture creativity in people from the local community of Brixton, and across London. We are developing a new programme of residency places, courses, talks and new open access in response to the changes to funding. We appreciate and thank the support from our Board, Volunteers and Freelancers, without whom we would not have survived the changes to our funding. Continued support from The Leverhulme Trust and Lambeth also helps us to make a difference.
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