How did you discovered the handmade printing world and why did you choose it as your art of expression?
For both of us, screen printing is connected to the independant music scene. Silkscreen is a really affordable way to print gigposters, album covers and tee shirts. We met people who were printing in their kitchen, garage, basement, and that were happy to share the technics. Xerox copies have their own distinctive charm and aesthetics, but the use of colours in screen print, the format possibilities open new horizons.
That's for the discovery.
Now, why we stick to it ?
With Palefroi we work often together on the same piece and that was something we wanted from the beginning. Going out of the loneliness of graphism or drawing works and try to confront images physically on the same paper. Negociate, fight, be frustrated, be thrilled.
Screen printing was the perfect territory for us to try that: layer of color after layer of color. We often use the technique to find new way to work together.
Moneywise, it's a lot easier to sell a limited edition art print than an original. It's cheaper, you don't necessarily need a contemporary art gallery, you can just go on any flea market and try to sell your stuff. It's a bit like sharing the costs of an original artwork between 15, 30 or 45 people, depending on the edition.
Finally, to print our images, not only create them, allow us to be in charge of the production line from A to Z. Some people consider us artists, other printers. We feel really comfortable in this undefined space. We can have technical conversations about how the images are made as well as why we make them. We find both interesting.
What are you working on in your studio right now?
Last week we printed 3 books that were waiting for some weeks. Among them is the first one of a new collection we decided to start this year. The collection is called 'Accumulation primitive', a marxist concept defining the begining of accumulation of capital in the early years of the capitalist era. And, indeed, in this collection, we will "accumulate" for the first time the work of other people. For Accumultaion Primitive, we will be just printers. We invited people whose work we like and think can be translated in screen printing. We're super enthusiastic to be 'real publisher'! This first book is by Struan Teague.
Can you describe your working routine and how is your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?
We share our time between two spaces.
The 'office', a space that belongs only to Palefroi, where we store our prints, do computer works, drawings, administrative boring stuff and so on.
The print shop, where, as the name says, we print. This space is a collective space that we share with 7 other printers. We are not a collective, we're printshop roommates. It allows us to have a really great print shop, that we couldn't afford alone, and to share tips and tricks with the others.
Tell me about your process, where or how things begin, how they evolve and with which material do you work.
Damien starts by producing a lot of material, collages, abstract drawings, textures. He then often go to the copy shop to transform everything a first time before rechewing it by cutting and pasting. Then either he will work directly in the print space or it turns on his computer, scan everything. In both case, it's the third step of digestion, where he organises the produced matter for silkscreen.
I (Marion) draw. If I draw with silkscreen as the output (which is often the case) I use mostly layer of direct tones. I have mainly 2 methods for translating a drawing for silkscreen.
The lazy (and also a bit boring) method: I draw in color, scan, separate the colors on computers, print the films at the copy shop, screen print.
The 'full of surprise' method: I draw first a more or less advanced draft, to know where am I going. Then I draw every color separately directly at the format, on transparent paper and have to wait to print it to know if I failed or not.
Palefroi is a mix of all that. We tend to use more the 'producing tons of materials' method of Damien, because it allows more wiggle room for both of us. The last prints we made were all involving composition and color test on computers and we realised that it bored us a bit. There is more suspense when you produce a poster without computers. So we're now back to the printshop to try, fail and be more excited when we succeed.
What are you having the most trouble resolving in your process?
Cohabitation. When we work together on the same print, we need to find the right balance where everyone feels involved and in charge, agree on where we want to go. Sometimes it's easy and spontaneous, sometimes we need to take a break, understand why one (or both) of us feel frustrated and don't recognize oneself in the common work. It's about compromizes, power relation, self confidence, dialogue, playfullness. If the process works well, we don't mind so much the result. If it was funny to make something ugly, it's a lot better than to achieve in pain something beautiful.
Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?
We try to think of other formats and medium than our classical 50x70 cm paper. Wood, fabric... But it takes time and logistic, so when we just have 2 days in the printshop, it's a lot easier to print on paper. It's also a lot easier to store and sell. But we keep that in mind.
Tell me about your influences in the handmade printing range or in other ranges (music, cinema, etc)
We kind of have a holy trinity, that we refer to when we doubt: Sonnenzimmer, Re-Surgo and Seripop.
Three duo, coming from the gigposter world and that achieved to find their way beyond that. They are a source of inspiration for us, not only by what they do but how they do it. We navigate in the same kind of partly uncharted territories. They draw some maps that we're sometimes looking at. It's easier to decide to take a path, or not, if someone took it before you. It's reassuring and motivating to have some sorts of role models.
Apart from the holy three, we have tons of influences. From friends to people who draw in caves during the paleolithic, from music bands to documentaries about workers in Argentine who occupy their factory to use the machine and self organize the production. We try to keep our eyes, ears and heads open, and what touch us is often a mix between aesthetics, people and ways of doing things. We are for exemple most impressed by Formes Vives. They decided to focus their work "on things that worth it, mainly social and political topics". For us, that makes what they do even more beautiful.