Print Workers Barcelona
As part of our regular series of studio visits looking at creators who share B&O PLAY's love of culture and creativity, we met Alex Costa, founder and runner of Print Workers Barcelona and chatted about silkscreening and printing by hand in a digital world.
Print Workers Barcelona is a studio specialising in screen printing and etching, as well as a co-working space for graphic artists located in the picturesque backstreets of Grácia (where the vibe of Woody Allen's Vicky Christina Barcelona pervades). Alex Costa, founder and principal runner of PWB, took us on a small tour of the atelier and chatted about printing by hand in a digital world.
Founded in 2014, Print Workers Barcelona was born out of a love for handmade print. A large part of the spirit of PWB is to share this passion with others – making and otherwise costly and space-consuming workshop accessible to artists, students and other creatives to create work by hand. As well as being a working studio, PWB have regular classes in screen printing enabling people to do handmade printing on their own.
Focus: silk screening
But what's all the fuss about? Why go through a long, manual and complicated process to print a simple image or text on a piece of paper or fabric. Costa explains that screen printing has a totally different dimension to its look when compared to digital and commercial offset printing. “Screen printing has a warmth that can never be obtained by modern technology that aims for perfection and uniformity. True art comes from the small mistakes. For example, when there is a small misfit in the colouring layers or when there is too much or too little ink. That tells you something – it’s alive!”
Through this method an artist can produce a far more unique look to their work, with every step of the process involving the creator. PWB insist on showing visitors the workshop, explaining the tools and techniques to them in order to create an understanding of why screen printing is special. When asked which particular element sets it apart Alex answers promptly: “It’s the ink. It has a far deeper saturation and it will last much longer than you and me.” And it's true that when you see a simple black on white print, the colour looks deeper than that of an everyday inkjet printer or commercially printed magazines.
There's a steady flow of artists and creators utilising the print facility, and PWB describe themselves as a “gym for print creatives” with people using the workshop for between a couple of days to a month, working intensely on their print projects, then disappearing back into the world. Usually a few copies of the projects created in the workshop end up in the storefront and in that way create a sort of portfolio to testament the work of PWB.
When we toured the studio, a young illustrator was deeply concentrated in adjusting his master prints, finishing the final steps before the printing process.
The illustration is a large A1 black and white drawing of an abstract, imaginary clearing in the woods – eerie and tantalising at the same time. The corrections done by hand with a black thin line marker and white correctional ink. It will eventually end up as a limited edition poster.
Current city Barcelona
Occupation Founder and Principal