Screen printing has been thought to have originated in China, with images traced to about the 10th to 12th century A.D., during the rule of the Song dynasty. Much later it was adapted by other countries like Japan and others with their own individual variations. Western Europe is said to have borrowed it from Asia somewhere in the 18th century. Initial response was poor on account of the availability of silk, which was mostly with the East. Also an appreciative market for the products of screen printing was yet to take hold.
In the 1960s did it actually take root, with artist Andy Warhol popularising screen printing as an artistic technique, and identifying it as serigraphy, in the United States. It was the depiction of actress Marilyn Monroe, screen printed in garish colors that is supposed to have given a new popularity to screen printing.
Corita Kent, also known as Sister Mary Corita Kent, was an American Catholic nun, artist, and educator who lived and worked in Los Angeles and Boston. She worked almost exclusively with silk screen, also known as serigraphy, pushing back the limitations of the two-dimensional medium by the development of innovative methods. Kent's emphasis on printing was partially due to her wish for democratic outreach, as she wished for affordable art for the masses.
American entrepreneur, artist and inventor Michael Vasilantone started to use, develop, and sell a rotatable multicolour garment screen printing machine in 1960. The Vasilantone patent was licensed by multiple manufacturers, the resulting production and boom in printed T-shirts made this garment screen printing machine popular. Screen printing on garments currently accounts for over half of the screen printing activity in the United States. Graphic screen printing is widely used today to create mass or large batch produced graphics, such as posters or display stands.