Screen printing in human blood is something I have wanted to do ever since I saw this poster from mental band Watain which was printed in human blood and created by designer Metastazis. Of course there is also the Saw II stunt where posters were screen printed with blood taken from Saw star Tobi Bell (pretty sure the blood donor bit is just a PR ‘white lie’). Blood also has a firm place in the art world, Marc Quinn most notably casting his face in frozen blood. Finally lest we forget The Flaming Lips also created a poster using the blood of lead singer Wayne Coyne (who I LOVE).
If I am honest screen printing in blood has been in a LOT of new business pitches I have done over the past few years as a result of my fascination with the concept. Capcom being the client who had the nerve to finally go for it as part of the Resident Evil 6 human butchery campaign I headed up. We even got our Capcom client to donate some of his own blood!
Despite the obvious PR benefits, my additional reasoning for using human blood was that it seemed unethical to use animal blood for such a trivial (in the big scheme of things) reason as it would mean they would have been killed in order for us to do so, taking blood from humans has no lasting effects on the donor.
First off we had to find a trained phlebotomist (obviously) and the projects ‘medical adviser’ Carla Connolly connected me with the utterly wonderful @zoe_mort who declared my veins “amazing” and “juicy”. For the first test Zoe took blood from both myself and Carla using a variety of blood tubes (such as gold tops, grey tops…) which contained different preservatives so we could experiment and see which would work best for the project. Necessary as our needs from the blood was only for ‘art’ reasons – not medical – so it was a whole new territory for all involved.
As it turned out the classic preservative free purple topped blood tube was the way to go, and needing to create around 50 prints we also bled our client, Adam Merrett of Capcom and Full Fat’s Dan Walsh (both of whom had never given blood before). After testing the blood we were then ready to rock.
So we had the blood, and my fridge looked like Dexter was a house guest (Michael C Hall can be a house guest anytime) so what next? Luckily I knew wonderful medical illustrator Emily Evans, also a Senior Demonstrator of Anatomy at Cambridge University (teaching the medical students dissection and anatomy) and a councilor of the Medical Artists Association of GB, who was up for it and fair play to her. Even holding my fresh warm blood in my hands was enough to make me feel very very sick.
Emily created the screen print and began to test the right mixture – the end ratio of pigment to blood was about 20/80 – and a few hours later we had our blood screen prints to send out as part of the Resident Evil 6 press packs. The ‘human blood’ element was also clearly indicated on the poster in case anyone felt compelled to lick the prints or anything! Ironically these prints were going out as part of a pack that also included ‘human meat’ (more on that later) so these where the least disturbing part of the package. Have to say I am so impressed with Emily’s skills on this as the prints have remained blood red to this day, normally art works created using blood and paper are a bit dull as they dry a really icky brown.
If you were not lucky enough to get a screen print then here are some images of the prints below…
Photography by Nathan Pask & Emily Evans