For Carlos Rodriguez — better known as Chato — screen printing is not only his line of work, it’s an art form. But most importantly, a way of life. As head of Impresiones Macizas, the Mexico City workshop is delivering top-notch textile printing and changing how people think about screen printing. Although not open to the public, his clientele includes both big rock en español outfits and DIY groups, illustrators, restaurants, and agencies. While conquering the world is not one of Chato’s goals, Impresiones Macizas is fast becoming an industry standard.
According to Chato, his decision to get into the screen printing business was a matter of survival. “I held on to screen printing because I didn’t have any options left. I couldn’t go work at an office, and I couldn’t afford to go back to school and get a degree in business. I had to really put all my efforts into this and make it work,” he tells Remezcla. His initial steps in the business started in the early ‘00s punk scene when he was a member of cult instrumentalists Austin TV; this allowed him to handle the manufacturing of merchandising for bands like Zoe and Silverio. “I was able to be an independent musician and earn a living with my own business,” he explains.
After leaving Austin and a stint working with bands — he avoids the title “manager” — he needed a new line of work. “I was completely in love with music, but when push came to shove, I ended up obsessing over screen printing,” Chato says. “I moved from a service room at my apartment to a bigger place. I invested in good equipment and tried to spread enthusiasm about screen printing to others. I wanted to dignify the craft, make it more professional, and immerse myself into this artistic discipline.”
Impresiones Macizas shares a warehouse he rents with another business. Chato and crew 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, yet he feels hopeful for the future. “There’s a big community of screen printers around the world that are doing amazing stuff,” he says. “Brazil is on top of the game. I’ve gotten to know people through Instagram from all over — Japan, London, Chile, Argentina, Colombia. I’m a nerd for screen printing. I’ve visited 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 working environment.”
Chato doesn’t have the typical big plans to expand and conquer. Instead, he wants to make small but profound changes. “A friend once told me that he thought that Impresiones Macizas should become the biggest screen printing workshop in Latin America, and I said, ‘Fuck that,’ he shares. “I don’t want to be the biggest. I’m fine with a medium-sized workshop. I want to take care of the people who work for me; I get them paid vacations. Eventually, I want them to be able to afford to buy a house, have a legacy.” He aims to turn Impresiones Macizas into a co-op so that everyone who works there can benefit from the work.
“A friend once told me that he thought that Impresiones Macizas should become the biggest screen printing workshop 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 understanding of the craft. In 2023 they will be giving a course for anyone who wants to learn screen printing, an extension of events the Vive Latino festival has hosted in previous years for children to make their own T-shirts.
Impresiones Macizas has become a household name by remaining uncompromised and, above all, passionate about their art. Chato concludes. “Now I realize this is me, this is my life and my business. This is what fulfills me.”