For Carlos Rodriguez, better known as Chato, screen printing isn’t just his job, it’s an art form. But above all, a way of life. At the helm of Impresiones Macizas, the Mexico City studio offers top-notch textile printing and is changing the way people think about screen printing. Although not open to the public, its clientele includes both Spanish rock big outfits and DIY bands, illustrators, restaurants and agencies. Although conquering the world is not one of Chato’s goals, Impresiones Macizas is on its way to becoming an industry standard.
According to Chato, her decision to get into screen printing was a matter of survival. “I kept screen printing because I had no more options. I couldn’t go to work in an office and I couldn’t afford to go back to school and get a business degree. I had to really put all my effort into it and make it work,” he told Remezcla. His first steps in the business started in the punk scene of the early 2000s when he was a member of cult instrumentalists. Austin TV; this allowed him to manage the manufacture of merchandising for groups like Zoe and Silverio. “I was able to be a freelance musician and make a living with my own business,” he explains.
After leaving Austin and working with bands — he avoids the title of “manager” — he needed a new line of work. “I was completely in love with the music, but when things happened, I ended up obsessing over screen printing,” Chato explains. “I moved from a service room in my apartment to a bigger place. I invested in good equipment and tried to spread the enthusiasm for screen printing to others. I wanted to give dignity to the profession, to professionalize it and to immerse myself in this artistic discipline.
Impresiones Macizas shares a warehouse that it rents with another company. Chato and his team bet on the best supplies from Mexico and other parts of the world, spending money to make the best product possible. According to Chato, screen printing in Mexico is both unique and a missed opportunity, but he is hopeful for the future. “There is a large community of screen printers around the world doing amazing things,” he says. “Brazil is at the top of the game. I got to know people through Instagram from everywhere – Japan, London, Chile, Argentina, Colombia. I’m a screen printing nerd. I’ve been to a ton of workshops, and I see their work, and sometimes I can see that my product is better, but their workshops are cooler, or the other way around. It makes me want to be the best I can be and have the best work environment.
Chato does not have the typical big plans for expansion and conquest. Instead, he wants to make small but profound changes. “A friend once told me that he thought Impresiones Macizas should become the biggest screen printing studio in Latin America, and I said, ‘Fuck that,’ he shares. “I don’t want to not be the biggest. I’m ok with a medium-sized shop. I want to take care of the people who work for me; I give them paid time off. Eventually, I want them to be able to afford to buy a house, that they have a legacy.It aims to turn Impresiones Macizas into a cooperative so that everyone who works there can benefit from the work.
“A friend once told me that he thought Impresiones Macizas should become the biggest screen printing studio in Latin America, and I said, ‘Fuck that…’ I don’t want to be the biggest… I want to take care of the people who work for me.”
In Chato’s words, he wants the work to speak for itself so that people realize that screen printing is an art form, an expression that requires discipline and an understanding of the craft. In 2023, they will be giving a class to anyone who wants to learn screen printing, an extension of the events the Vive Latino festival has held in previous years for kids to make their own t-shirts.
Impresiones Macizas has become a household name by remaining uncompromising and, above all, passionate about their art. Chato concludes. “Now I realize that this is me, this is my life and my business. This is what fulfills me.”