Finding Screen Printing Inspiration in European Folk Art

by Wendy Croxford

in Permaset Blog

13 Sep 2017  | 0 Comments

If you are searching for inspiration for your next screen printing project why not take a look at European folk art for something bright, bold and distinctive? Much of the traditional artwork from Austria, Poland, Russia, Hungary and throughout Scandinavia incorporates bold designs, symmetry and colour that lends itself perfectly to screen printing designs. Celebrate any European heritage and take a page out of the folk art style book by experimenting with these design basics.

What are the common motifs of European folk art?

Folk art is unique to each region’s culture, but there are some repeating motifs that are common throughout folk art. Flowers and woodland creatures such as foxes, rabbits, bears and deer are popular, as are flora images like repeating leaves, buds or mushroom motifs. In addition there is a strong focus on repeated patterns including squares, circles and elaborate borders, which are ideal for screen printing or block printing.

European folk art

Badger, hare and woodland design by John Bloor Designs in the UK


Inked up block ready to print at John Bloor Designs in the UK. Folk art designs can be screen prints or block prints using Permaset eco-friendly inks.

Inked up block ready to print at John Bloor Designs in the UK. Folk art designs can be screen prints or block prints using Permaset eco-friendly inks.

Gentle natural colours or bold mod brights

Just as the motifs are diverse depending on the region, so are the colour choices for European folk art. While some regions use natural colours such as greens, browns and blues, others embrace more vivid purples, reds, oranges and yellows. Colour can be as simple or as complex as you wish, building up layer upon layer of screen printing inks in different hues or sticking to a single bright colour.

The use of symmetry in European folk art

One common aspect of folk art whether from Poland or Sweden is that of balance and symmetry. Patterns and images are often reflected on a horizontal, vertical or diagonal basis to create a visually pleasing effect. Even asymmetrical designs will often feel balanced in terms of colour, space and shapes, so keep this in mind when developing a screen print or block print design.

Delicate detail versus bold geometrics

Once again, the level of detail in European folk art varies from location and time period. While traditional designs tend to be more elaborate, a more mod style emerged in the 60s and 70s that simplified these images to geometric shapes such as circles and ovals. Outlines are generally soft, curved and organic in style.

Finding Permaset water based screen printing inks throughout Europe

Permaset inks are water based, environmentally friendly and offer brilliant colours that are ideal for your folk art inspired prints, whether you are screen printing on fabric or paper. These products are available from over 30 stockists throughout Europe, so it’s easy to find a supplier in your local area. We are always available to answer any questions you may have about choosing the right products for your screen printing project. Send us a question via our CONTACT US form

The Permaset Distributor in Europe is Atlantic Empire, based in Amsterdam.  Their contact details are:


Area: The Netherlands

Address: Hortensialaan 2, 3702 VG Zeist, The Netherlands

Phone: 31 6462 16553


Visual Inspiration

Check out these pages for some visual inspiration for your European folk art designs.

European folk art designs

Talented illustrator and screen printer Karoline Rerrie takes inspiration from folk art styles.

screen printed tea towel

This screen printed tea towel by Fran Wood Design takes its cues from 70s-style Scandinavian folk art.


Permaprint does not contain ozone depleting chemicals such as CFCS or HCFCS. It is also formulated free of aromatic hydrocarbons. Permaprint premium is free of volatile organic solvent and does not contain PVC resin or Phthalate plasticiser