One of the most appealing aspects of printmaking is its constraints. Ink + surface = print. Simple as that. What you can do with those elements, is up to you. I’ve seen screen printers use chocolate sauce as ink to decorate crepes, I’ve seen skateboards used as surfaces, and countless of methods of actual printing. So whenever I find something new in the world of printing, my ears always perk up.
Enter Raubdruckerin (German for Pirate Printers). This printing collective based in Berlin looks for objects such as manhole covers, drains and other urban surfaces around the city that can be turned into prints.
According to their website, they use
“Urban structures like manhole covers, grids, technical objects and other surfaces of the urban landscape, to create unique graphical patterns on street wear basics, fabrics and paper. Every piece is hand printed, mainly on-site in the public space, as a footprint of the city…. The main focus is to explore the surfaces of cities, searching for overlooked, seemingly insignificant details on the pavement, which turn out to be true urban design pieces. They reveal unobserved parts of cities, that are full of history, diversity and creativity.”
As a sort of relief print, these reflections of the city tell a story, more than any regular screen printed shirt, or LaserJet print could. These have a literal and metaphorical mark of the city. Created in public, these prints have a connection to the community that a lot of printers strive for. The Pirate Printers take the print shop to the streets and invite the public to join. What’s most interesting to me about this project is the way they were able to look at their surroundings and translate it to print. It’s inspiring to see such a disruptive method to a traditional practice, and it leaves me curious as to what else can be used to print.
Take a look below at some of their products: