I’m Federico Cimatti. I began working in typographical printing in the year 2008, while being a graphic design student at the University of Buenos Aires. A way of defining Prensa La Libertad today is as a publisher of poster formats. From a young age I was interested in writing. I worked for Etcétera Group, an argentinian collective that holds to the philosophy of “errorism”. I designed and printed the poster for their participation in San Pablo’s Bienal. Finally, another big moment that happened a few weeks ago is having been part of the Bolivia’s Poster Bienal 2015 with the poster I designed for Etcétera, “God’s err”, that was selected in the Cultural Piece category.
How did you discover the manual printing world and why did you choose it as your artistic expression discipline?
I got to typographic impression by mistake. Mistakes and questions are two things that inspire me. I worked from a young age in printing houses where food house’s flyers were made. In those places I couldn’t do the stuff I enjoyed, I was a mere operator. One day a cadet from the printing house didn’t come to work and I had to go look for a job at a workshop distant from the city without knowing where I was going. When I entered that space something happened, I felt connected to the smell of ink and the sound of machines.
Meanwhile, I was doing a street experience closer to political activism, and those two experiences lead to taking typographical printing as a way of reproduction, having an idea, reproduce it, make it public, for this same thing controlling a means of production that allows a reproducibility of a message is a political fact. A typographical machine is a weapon.
What are you currently working on at your studio?
These days I’m working on a reprint of some old work, in February 2016 I’ll travel through Italy and I want to make some expositions in those beautiful lands. Meanwhile there’s always an open slot for new pieces and new investigations. I’m interested in always knowing the rules of typographical impression deeply in order to find the power of mistake and the mix with new technologies.
Can you describe your working routine, how’s your studio space and how does it affect your work?
My routine starts at 10 AM, when I get to my work space located in Abasto, a neighborhood from Buenos Aires in the heart of the city. It’s an ancient large house from the 20’s with high roofs. My studio is a 30 square meters space, small but with high roofs, which enables one to have dreams in order to grow in the future. The studio is equipped with three presses, a 1949 large size Nebiolo, another large size Nebiolo from 1955 and lastly an oriental rarity, a Japanese card format automatic press. When I begin my work day, the most important thing to me is to drink some mates, here the day doesn’t start without mate, the usual ritual. Then I structure my agenda and before noon I print in order to have the afternoon free for personal projects.
Tell me about your process, how do your pieces start, how do they evolve and with which materials do you work with?
I have a very fragmented work process, I basically work generating a lot of typographical situations that are edited afterwards. I compare it with being a kid, architect and destroyer at the same time, build a building, demolish it, keep one part, lifting a wall again, put that part that was saved, demolishing it once more and so on until one learns to let the piece go.
The starting point of the pieces always comes from what happens in my life, I’m always aware of what happens, what I hear in the street. I’m particularly interested in putting the technique in crisis and I think new technologies such as laser cutting and 3D printing are a door to experimentation, while also being a restless printer and trying to print whatever comes through your way. In that experimental trial I was able to make matrices with book spines.
What’s giving you the most trouble in your process?
The problem in this side of the world is that we don’t have easy access to technically prepared materials for typographical printing, typographical inks that are not manufactured here any more, so there’s a need of turning to gadgets in order to get the same result.
Working with typographical printing means constantly solving enigmas, the typographical craft is a machine that teaches while doing.
Do you experiment with different materials or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?
I’m interested in graphical experimentation, printing doesn’t only mean typographical. Tempting the technique to make “mistakes” is the best process in order to find the expression. The technique is a binary fact, 1 or 0, it prints or it doesn’t, and under those variables there’s a world of materials that surround us that can fit the machine. On the other side, I think the typographical care is fundamental, to understand its rules, to see the work of great typographers and other incendiary typographers that left an immense legacy.
Tell me about your influences in the realm of manual printing or in other fields (music, cinema, etc).
I like to pick up influences from very contrasting places. I’m passionate about what happens in Latin America with respect to printed posters that advertise cumbia dances, but at the same time I enjoy seeing the work of european colleagues such as Betterpress, Dafi Kühne, New North Press, John Christopher from Flowers and Fleurons, Jens Jørgen Hansen, Familia Plomez, Officina Nove Punti. From all them, from those anonymous printers that keep the trade alive in this land and colleagues from other lands, I keep learning more about the world of typography every day.
I think the visual field takes an enormous richness from the place of one as a cultural operator in terms of feeding oneself from other fields such as music, from the cumbia villera of Damas Gratis to the minimalist electronic of a record from Alva Noto. I don’t want to forget the word, that visionary torch, great writers that left me with pyromaniac souvenirs, Roberto Arlt, Cortázar, Vallejo. From the contemporaries, on top of all, Camilo Blajaquis. Latin America is a whole continent of inspiration.