PRENSA LA LIBERTAD
Federico Cimatti is the founder of Prensa La Libertad, a letterpress printing business which has been active since 2008. Born out of a passion for ‘releasing messages’ on Buenos Aires’ streets, Federico started this creative project when he still was a graphic design student.
In this interview, Federico tells us about his love for movable types, the beginnings of his business 6 years ago and his long-term future plans.
Photos by Paula Surraco
Please introduce Prensa La Libertad to us.
Prensa La Libertad was born 6 years ago out of the collision between two personal experiences developing at the same time: my training as a graphic designer at the University of Buenos Aires and an interest in releasing messages on the street. Whilst at the CBC – the University’s introductory course – I started working with my neighborhood’s printers, making flyers for pizza stores and delis. I couldn’t put forward any of the ideas that really moved me and interested me so this work led me to meet an old school printer guy in 2008. Discovering his workshop was a revealing moment where I connected not only with a technique that I used for my practical purposes but with a world of real emotions on paper.
From June 2, 2008, Prensa La Libertad began to be operational and started diving into a world of inks. The technical learning is a big part of this job – you have to know the roots in order to break the rules. I’m very interested in experimentation, understanding the tool and making it yours.
Can you give us a little insight into your creative process and what letter pressing actually entails?
Prensa La Libertad is structured in two ways: custom work, design projects and print on demand, as well as the development of personal graphic work. In both cases, the work process is very similar. My method involves sketching the first ideas that come to my head and then let them rest. The next day, I ‘boycott’ the ideas , trying to overcome the contradictions of the creative process. A ‘mistake’ at Prensa La Libertad isn’t a negative concept – it hides the idea of surrendering to the unexpected and to let the things flow.
In my artwork, I incorporate a lot of my daily experiences. I like being outside feeling the beat – the street is a great idea booster. The city gives us the present of inspiration trough different situations, which I transfer to my notebook and use as a source to make my posters. I find inspiration in films, experimental music, a love statement written on a wall, the work of other artists, contemporaries, and the greatest masters of the French May 68.
What materials and equipment do you use?
The workshop is equipped with three printing machines which are used depending on the printing format: an Italian ‘double craft’ 1949’s printing machine, one released in 1969 and another to print ‘Letter size’ from 1970. This job requires mechanical skills in order to maintain the printers regularly, but these machines react to other types of logic and they have no expiration date.
What does a typical day at work involve for you?
A typical day at Prensa La Libertad begins early in the morning and ends late in the evening. Everyday is a new adventure because, at the same time, I work for very different clients. I always begin my day answering queries. Prensa La Libertad is run only by me and I have different roles, from artist and publisher to designer and manager. During these past 6 years there have been many projects that have made me feel proud. Last year, one of those projects involved the great Alejandro Jodorowsky. We exchanged words on Twitter and he let me use one of his quotes, which I printed into a poster.
What are your future plans for Prensa La Libertad?
The main aim is to turn Prensa La Libertad into a cultural center and not just a printing workshop to resolve technical issues. Besides being a workplace, I would like to see it as a space to transmit ideas and peace. This is a long term plan which I work hard for every day. I’m also working on a couple of short-term plans: ‘Workshop Sales’ (Venta de Taller), which would happen once a month in the workshop, showing new artwork produced during that month – It’s a good reason to hang some new posters and have a drink with all the visitors to the workshop – and ‘Afichistas Front’ (Frente de Afichistas), where graphic designers who work with posters can meet to discuss, collaborate and build broader autonomy.
What’s your favourite neighbourhood in Buenos Aires? Which other local artists, designers or creative people do you like at the moment?
My favorite neighborhood in Buenos Aires is Villa Crespo. I love it very much because there are many stickers of mine on the streets’ walls. There are many fellow artists that I admire , not only visual ones: Collective Onaire, Juan Carlos Romero, Amos Kennedy, Projecto Gomez Casa, Pommez, Matemos El Claro de Luna (Radio show FM La Tribu), Santi Pozzi…