Studio Visit: 75 Grados of Mexico City

On our travels to Mexico City, Bianca and I went to visit 75 Grados, a screen printing shop in the Federal District. We initially went for an evening of art and music, and ended up spending a few days hanging out with the folks there swapping techniques and admiring their archive of works.

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Our first impression was an art print show and live screen printing session they host once a month called Taller En Vida. The event is a youth hangout magnet for those in the know. The locals show up with drinks and snacks, smoke, listen to music, in a room surrounded by art with a strangely comforting scent of solvent ink in the air.

A pile of screen prints sit on a table and everyone shuffles through the old prints to hopefully spot one to their liking. Prints seem to be treated as something to enjoy for the moment, not a piece that will live with you for the rest of your life. It’s an Idea that I wish more people in Canada would embrace.

There are 3 stacks of fresh new prints sitting on another table, and we are trying to figure out why they are not for sale. They are the same prints that are being showcased at the event. It turns out that everyone in the room is waiting for the artists to show up and sign the prints so they can be sold. Sure enough, an hour after we arrived, the artists sit down and everyone lines up to grab one of the limited edition prints.

Artists signing the 3 new prints at Taller en Vida.

Artists signing the 3 new prints at Taller en Vida.

While the prints are being signed, The last colour of one of the print runs is being finished by anyone in the room who wants to give screen printing a try. Side by side with a print technician, they push a squeegee across the screen in unison. It’s a great experience for fans of the process or people who are curious of the process in general. It was a great experience to be present that night, and hopefully one we can mimic in the future.

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Master Printer Arturo Negrete.

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Arturo printing with his apprentice Chak looking on.

We were invited back after the first night, to a more productive studio environment, and we spent most of our day sharing techniques and setup styles. One of the studio assistants spoke english and was our translator for the visit, but when not available, we managed to communicate through gestures and broken spanish with the other employees. Similar to Kid Icarus, 75 Grados prints a combination of commercial work along with the fine art prints. Today we were working on some business cards for one of their regular clients. A four colour process art print was being set up on another table across the room. Drying racks are lined up waiting to be filled with glistening ink on paper. This may sound like a typical day at Kid Icarus, and it is. And I couldn’t be happier.

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Films cut out of Rubylith manually to add colour to the final key black layer.
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The final print, a combination of manually cut layers with a computer output layer to bring it all together.

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Limited edition t-shirts are printed in pieces and then sent off to be assembled.

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75 Grados Textile Department, operated by Loius “Razor” Lizaola.

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Hanging out with the young apprentices in the print studio.

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2 colours down, 2 to go.

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Arturo watching over the process while taking care of business.

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Working on the final colour for the process print.

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The final CMYK piece sits to dry for the rest of the day.

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Our last day at 75 Grados was spent choosing prints for a collaboration show at Kid Icarus. An idea that was developed as the days past hanging out in their studio space. The collection we curated was a great mix and overall feel of what the team at 75 was creating. The screen prints are dinged on the edges and slightly torn remind us of the frenzie on the first night of our visit, when the lovers of the screen print medium came out to party and take home a piece.

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“You can feel the heat coming off the ink here in Mexico” Arturo explained. I naively fell for it.

A group shot of Kid Icarus and 75 Grados.

 

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