I live and work mostly in Berlin, but was born in southern France and grew up in Portugal and Berlin in a family of artists. My parents are both painters and creative survivalists who used to travel a lot with us kids. They even named us after the countries we were born in, which explains my first name. My parents have always been very inspiring to me. They taught me how to get along with less and how to make more out of what you already have. But like any kid, I wanted to be different than my parents. That is probably why I studied textile design and not fine art.
I am founder and artistic director of the street printing project raubdruckerin, which I started in 2006 when I was in the middle of my textile studies in Portugal. It was my father who drew my attention to the beauty and variety of manhole covers in the first place. That was basically the initial spark for me to explore the potential of using them as printing templates with all my technical background and know-how. I had nothing but ink, a roll, some t-shirts and a lot of positive energy.
The first pirate prints were amazing. That same year I presented them together with my father and sister under the name estampatampa at the festival Musicas do Mundo in Sines, Portugal. After a rather modest success of this first presentation, I put the project on hold and went to Paris to work for established fashion and trend companies. That was quite an exciting and influential time in my career as a textile designer. But beyond the glamorous, chic and prosperous way of life that the fashion world loves to celebrate, I felt obliged to do something different. I was searching for a more sustainable and new way of life and production. And most of all, I wanted to create something on my own. This led to a few side projects such as Les Muses, where I created hand-made hats from recycled materials, and Quimera, a jewelry and accessories project with unexpected materials. I also did costume designs for clients.
Back in Berlin a few years later, the winner of all projects and ideas became raubdruckerin. That was when I really started as a pirate printer. The inspiring wealth of urban structures and the creative energy of the city had given my former idea a new lease on life. Some things just need a little time and push in the right direction to flourish.
We at raubdruckerin all come from different creative and professional fields such as art, architecture, design and psychology. That we are all searching for a new way of work structure defines our group, as well as the principle: keep it simple and sustainable. Our printing technique is just that. It is a low-tech and manual procedure. It can be considered as a kind of relief printing with objects used in a non-intended way (manhole covers as printing templates). No additional printing plates, screens nor a printing press are required, just ink and a roll.
People enjoy the uniqueness of our products, and the honesty & transparency of where they come from.
The overall consumption of resources and material with this method is reduced to a minimum. Sustainability plays an important role in our concept. We only use eco-friendly ink for our print works. It is water-based and 100% free from petrol. The mixture of the color corresponds to the respective weather and material requirements and has a long lasting adherence on our organic cotton fibers. We clean every printing spot before and after a printing session.
My favorite items in the studio have a quite pragmatic aspect. I love my tape and rolls, things that are my constant companions. Technical materials that are both functional and beautiful and kind of vintage also draw most of my attention. A well-shaped bottle of crystal rubber fulfills its function and is just nice to look at. A little fun fact by the way is that it’s made by a company named Gutenberg (the inventor of modern letterpress). And yes, I also love my nail polish. It hides perfectly the printing ink under my nails!
My parents and their lifestyle contributed the most to my evolution as an artist. Within chaotic and sometimes crazy moments, there was always love and a respectful way of treating people and things. We did not have much money, but we got by. Our best friend was Creativity. And that is what defines raubdruckerin, a quite simple but strong idea with endless creative printing possibilities. However, you do need a certain technical know-how to get satisfying results that are durable and sustainable.
“Curiosity about life in all of its aspects is the secret of great creative people.” – Unknown
Using high quality, fairly traded and sustainable materials are the principles of our concept. We value the fact that the manufacturers of our blanks have the best possible certificates in terms of fair and environmentally friendly production conditions. At our workshops, we encourage attendees to redesign their old clothes and source their materials from local secondhand stores. This is environmentally friendly, resource saving and produces the desired synergy effects. The idea of the project is to be critical of today’s mass production. We fundamentally reject large profit-driven textile companies. We try to raise awareness of the mismatches in the current fashion and textile industry.
In our studio in Berlin Neukoelln, we store all of our products and send them out to clients. People can come and visit us. That is an important fact, as we wish to be not just another common online shop. We sell artworks.
My biggest challenge and accomplishment at the same time is to earn money with what I love to do, and to have the time to develop new ideas in the street and in the studio. The project has been very successful in the last year, but with this development new challenges and responsibilities are growing as well. It would be nice to be mentioned in history or art books and magazines for the concept of street printing!
Currently we are working on our own book that includes the journey and stories that we’ve experienced so far. We are very excited to expand our expertise in new fields. Also, we are planning a printing tour through the U.S., where most of our clients come from—thanks!—and Japan, where you find the most precious manhole covers in the world.
Being an artist was never a rational decision for me. And I definitely went through a lot of ups and downs. But if you stick to your mission your efforts will be rewarded one day! Certain ideas just need timing, and of course a little push and luck too.