Sinclair ZX Spectrum Issue One screen print black, ketchup, bubblegum, wine art silkscreen circuit portrait retro computing



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  • Handmade
  • Materials: Somerset Satin paper, Acrylic paint

  • Width: 17 centimeters
  • Height: 26 centimeters

Circuit Portraits is an ongoing art project that finally shines some light on that chunk of fibreglass and copper that lurks inside our most loved machines. Most of which are now lurking in the attic.

The Sinclair ZX Spectrum was released in 1982 and there were 5 million sold in one form or another. These were everywhere when I was a kid. Except in our house. We never had one. I was envious.

This "Issue One" board was taken from the first generation of Speccys, laid out in 1982 by Richard Altwasser. I cleaned it, stripped the components, scanned it, and traced it, painstakingly laying out the lines, recreating the original.

I created separations and screens for the four layers (background, bottom copper, top copper and through-holes). Each layer of each print is individually hand-pulled on a silkscreen press using four different mixed colours of acrylic ink, onto 300gsm textured Somerset Satin paper, in the basement of my studio here in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The printed area is just less than A4 (10 x 7 inches, or 25.5 x 17cm), the paper itself is 15 x 29 1/2 inches, or 38 x 29 cm. The orientation is not fixed, this can be hung portrait or landscape.

This is an open edition, signed down one edge by the artist. That's me.


This project highlights the individuality that the people that made these artefacts bring to their work. The circuits I have chosen to feature are ones that have significance to me, either because our family had one, I had good memories of using them at friends houses, or because I coveted them badly!

They are curated from a golden era when consumer electronics still used relatively discrete components and the circuits themselves were open and simple. The days before computer-driven auto-routing could algorithmically calculate the most efficient routing scheme, with the fewest vias and the lowest impedance, in fact, the days when circuits were laid out on light-tables with gridding tape and set-squares. The days of Frogger and Pacman, of Horace Goes Ski-ing and Jetpac.

Engineers had their job to do, but for each design, had to choose only one of a thousand different ways to lay out their tracks. Each line was pored over for it's technical correctness, but ultimately there's a little bit of expression in each mark and swerve, in each routing decision.

None of it was ever intended to be looked at, but nevertheless, stripped of it's contextual markers - the case, buttons, lights, labels, connectors, components, and presented out-of-scale and on beautiful paper, under glass, the patterns reveal their purely aesthetic features and invite interpretation. A variation in density and detail play out a rhythm, and indicate a direction, movement.

Circuit boards, even now, are still produced industrially using a silkscreen technique, so the artists variation of this technique is very apt.


Prints are shipped rolled, face-out in a sturdy packing tube, with acid-free tissue paper and bubble wrap to protect it on it's journey. In the UK, it will be sent special delivery, a next-business-day, signed-for service. European shipping usually takes between two and four days, further afield can take up to ten business days.


The estimated delivery date is based on your purchase date, the recipient's location (actual or inferred), the seller's processing time and location, and the shipping carrier.

Other factors—such as shipping carrier delays or placing an order on weekend/holiday—may push the arrival of your item beyond this date.

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Aug 16-29

Aug 9

After you place your order, uptomuch will take 1-3 business days to prepare it for shipment.

Aug 10-12

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Aug 16-29

Estimated to arrive at your doorstep Aug 16-29!

Etsy offsets carbon emissions from shipping and packaging on this purchase.
Etsy offsets carbon emissions from shipping and packaging on this purchase.
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Sandy Noble

Sandy Noble

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90 shop reviews

5 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars

My very first home computer, presented here in beautiful full colour (something the machine itself was incapable of). A lovely piece of art, thank you.

Alf Fairweather Apr 29, 2016

5 out of 5 stars

Mr. Noble, what can I say? This Polargraph, a type of art form I was unfamiliar with until stumbling upon your shop, is now my first real art purchase. Besides trading paintings, jewelry, ceramics & other creations with fellow art school students for 6 1/2 years, I have never actually forked over money for another artist's work... sad, I know. Even after teaching art for almost 8 years & growing up around the artists my dad hung around with, I could not afford the art I desired or it was unoriginal and bland. This piece changed all of that for me. Here is something I can not make with my own 2 hands & the process is so fascinating! Thank you, thank you, thank you, for making something so new and fresh. Something that was so different I had to have it, to feel the paper and process the way those lines were made. Just Lovely.

Raechel May 27, 2014

5 out of 5 stars

Absolutely fantastic piece of art based on the Speccy's circuit board. Wonderfully presented, beautifully executed. Many thanks!

Alf Fairweather Apr 29, 2016

5 out of 5 stars

I was super excited to get this print since it represents some of the best times in my life as a kid. It's exactly as it looks here on Etsy, printed on vibrantly on great paper stock, and I can't wait to mount it and hang it in my office.

Ryszard Sommefeldt Feb 2, 2019

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