Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

I would define myself as a polymath. I've always been an inventor and I've always loved drawing. I studied Graphic Design, but also engraving, bookbinding, silk-screen printing and illustration. We could say that these are the tools at my disposal and each will take more importance in one or another project, depending on its characteristics.

I currently work in La Roda, a multidisciplinary workshop where 6 people get together developing our own projects and collaborating. We've put up a big silk-screen printing and bookbinding workshop and I have fun like a kid would, spending hours and hours printing, experimenting and developing projects. I'm also part of Queixal Edicions, a publisher of self-edited books with headquarters in Banyoles. We work through all the production process of a book, develop the content and illustrations, print them with silk-screen and bind it by hand.

In addition I have a teaching career. I'm passionate about transmitting knowledge and giving tools to people so that they can give shape to their projects. I'm a teacher at Escola de la Dona within the illustration itinerary, giving self-editing classes. I also teach silk-screen printing at Print Workers Barcelona and in my own workshop.

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

How did you discover the manual printing world and why did you choose it as your artistic expression discipline?

I began painting Graffiti when I was 14 years old, and I cut many stencils. I suppose that's how it all began. In 2006 I did a short silk-screen printing course and then it began the self-study period of 6 years when I experimented with all kinds of possibilities and DIY mechanisms. After that I studied screenprinting and engraving in order to develop some good basis.

The engraving techniques are very traditional, with a lot of challenges and possibilities in each project. One has to be capable of getting over the difficulties that each one brings up and, from my point of view, this is also part of a creative process which I connect with.

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

What are you currently working on at your studio?

This new year I’ve resolved I’ll center myself in self-edited books, in order to explore my personal language by working materials, formats and all the existing possibilities. Instead of making long projects with long working schedules, now I’m interested in making short projects in which I can explore various registers, styles of bookbinding, different inks and colors. Now, for instance, I’ve printed a small book, Time Sense, where I explored alternatives to the dot pattern for printing photographic images. The dot pattern is a frequent register in silk-screen printing and it gives a personality to the image that I like, but I wanted to investigate what happens if we create different patterns (new personalities). In this case I created the image pattern based on a cardboard texture, thus generating a more organic texture.

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

Can you describe your working routine, how’s your studio space and how does it affect your work?

My routine basically consists of constance. I think experience produces a lot of learning and it helps you connect with the materials and processes you work with. It’s hard for me to focus on a single project and begin from scratch. I generally prefer to do various parallel things and it’s when you’re tired of doing something that the mind starts offering you new ideas in order to do a different thing you enjoy more, and at this point is when I normally see clearly what’s the next project I want to develop.

For a year and a half I’ve had my own silk-screen printing and bookbinding workshop, and that really influences the kind of projects you develop. It used to be that my studio was a little room and over there I worked much more with linoleum, experimental silk-screen prints or small screens, litopolyester, etc. Now I work much more with big format prints and projects with more copies. In a way I believe you always channel your creativity starting from the possibilities offered by your surroundings.

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

Tell me about your process, how do your pieces start, how do they evolve and with what materials do you work with?

I love the process. In fact, I think that’s something I want to show in my pieces. I think the printing techniques have very limited graphical registers and that’s why I like them. Understanding and taking advantage of those in order to use them to my favor is my challenge. In my case the pieces I create coexist with the technique I chose in order to develop them. With silk-screen printing, for example, I love working the print layouts. It’s not the same thing to make a print layout cutting silhouettes of black cardboard than doing it by drawing on an acetate with clay, these two possibilities would give us two very different registers. One would be clean and with defined borders and the other more wrinkled and irregular. These decisions one takes while developing a drawing, for example, would influence the final result. This way the piece starts taking form and reaching its final point, approaching what it would be once it’s printed, but it’s all the process that would have defined it. In November I presented the series “Contacte Humà”, that was composed of 20 serigraphies where I explored the different graphic possibilities of one silk-screen printing process. When you paint a canvas you can only get one result, but by making multiple copies with silk-screen printing you can achieve different results from one same process.

What’s giving you the most trouble in your process?

Basically the organization. I think I’m very hyperactive in terms of production and participating in initiatives related to graphic creation. Projects that you’ve already begun get delayed because new ones appear and making them go forward sometimes gets difficult.

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

Do you experiment with different materials or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?

I’d say I’m inclined to experimentation. I love understanding the essence of the techniques and trades. I get away from pre-established things, I rather know what happens if you make it another way, maybe it works or it doesn’t. Or maybe, and that’s the most important thing to me, you find a new register. I’ve made silk-screen printing canvases with windows, I’ve printed over walls, I’ve made inks with soil, I’ve made all kinds of printing machines. All that said, I generally work with professional printing materials: screens, inks, emulsions, etc. But having gone through all the alternatives makes you understand the technique much more: why things happen and how they happen.

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

Tell me about your influences in the realm of manual printing or in other fields (music, cinema, etc).

Within manual printing my referent is Monky, a peruvian silk-screen printer that has been making Chicha Music posters all his life. He produces serigraphies by making paper stencils and he achieves amazing textures with fluor inks and gradients. I enjoy finding influences in everything, in the day to day experience, in nature, in a picturesque corner, in old posters, etc.

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

Jan Barceló

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Translation: Juan Luis Casañas