We chatted to Antwerp screen print addicts Els Baeten & Jasper van Grunsven of PrintMakingMoneyGang about how their design practice is shaped by the fun and benefits of collaborating, embracing limitation, and choosing on where to focus your energy.

Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.

We are screenprinting, graphic addicts & type fanatics running an open access screen printing studio.

As PrintMakingMoneyGang, we create our own screen printing universe using grids, halftone patterns, geometric planes & typography. Our brightly coloured designs highlight all the advantages screen printing has to offer, while creating limited edition artworks.

We also run an open access screen printing studio in Antwerp called Gezeever (in Dutch it is kind of a hilarious double entendre). It is the screen printing homebase for a whole bunch of Antwerp creatives, like Tom Tosseyn, Charlotte Dumortier and David Boon. We also co-operate with artists, schools and museums to provide workshops for people who are interested in screenprinting.

Talk us through a typical working day include for you right now.

Els: I don't really have a typical working day. My days are quite diverse, exciting and never boring.

I run our open screen printing studio where I teach new members how to use the studio and equipment. I also provide workshops for our members and other groups, often outdoors. So one day I'm working in a museum, and another day I'm at a festival or a cultural centre, or even a teaching in a prison. Besides that, I spend my time designing new artwork for PrintMakingMoneyGang. We're also currently working on an artist book. And as with every organization, I also spend more time than I would like doing administrative work.

Jasper: During the day I spend most of my time working as a graphic designer for a Dutch graphic design agency. In the evening and on the weekends, I host workshops with Els. And of course we create our own autonomous design work as PrintMakingMoneyGang. We’re working really hard to expand the PMMG universe! (Yes, we're kinda busy…)

Design work by PrintMakingMoneyGang The Design Kids interviews PrintMakingMoneyGang work-2

Are you involved in any teaching, and how does it shape your practice?

Not only do we provide basic screen printing courses in our studio, but we also host workshops in various locations where we introduce people to screen printing. We have just returned from the summer academy, where we worked with a group of ten people for an entire week, screen printing from the early morning till late in the evening. It's super intense, but it's great to see just how differently people can use the same medium. They used all kinds of innovative and experimental techniques. We learnt as much from them as they learn from us.

We also host artist talks from time to time. It's such a pleasure to meet other artists and get to know the way they work. Some of the artists that have visited the studio include Harmen Liemburg, Hedof, Oli B, Stang and Sigrid Calon.

How did you develop your style as an illustrator and what tips would you have for others?

Jasper: At first we worked separately — my work was more focused on typography and very clean, while Els made more playful and illustrative work.

We worked together on the design for a series of posters for Gezeever. We were surprised to find that when we worked together, combining our individual strengths, we made more unique designs than when we worked on our own. That's when we decided to integrate our design process.

Els: The theme of our first exposition was hip hop, and our work was very illustrative and typographic. Over time, we have evolved into a more abstract style based on geometric shapes. Colour has become increasingly important and typical in our work. These days we spend a lot of time perfecting our colour schemes. Screen printing offers a huge colour range and we want to make full use of it. We first create a rough sketch, then we compile a number of colour palettes, which we then print. Based on these test prints, we determine our colour scheme and we further refine the design.

Our design process is strongly defined by the technique of screen printing. Taking full advantage of the medium and embracing its limitations defines our art. Working within constraints can be an advantage in finding your personal style.

Design work by PrintMakingMoneyGang The Design Kids interviews PrintMakingMoneyGang work-4
Design work by PrintMakingMoneyGang The Design Kids interviews PrintMakingMoneyGang work-4

Sharing your ideas with people or organisations is essential and can help you move forward.

What advice would you give students graduating in 2019?

Els: Make a clear choice on what you want to devote your time and energy to. Go where your heart is. Jasper and I both worked at an agency for many years, but we craved something more than doing design work on a computer all day.

We started meeting up with friends once a week to talk about our future plans. That has been a great help to us. A whole bunch of ideas passed. But eventually we decided to focus on one thing (the open access screen print studio and introducing people to screen print). By making a clear choice, you can devote the time and energy to where your heart is.

Jasper: When we started Gezeever, we were both working full time. More or less by coincidence, we came across De Veerman, an organization focusing on participation, art, and education. They offered us a space and support with our start-up. Through our collaboration with De Veerman, we were able to realise our dream step by step. This was really essential to be able to grow into the organization that we are today. Sharing your ideas with people or organisations is essential and can help you move forward with your vision. No man is an island! And collaboration is the key to our screen printing studio.

Any passion projects/collabs you would like to share?

We have set up a unique screen printing workshop in collaboration with participatory artist Kristof van Gestel. Kristof has devised a walk-in workshop where participants end up in a kind of large abstract screen printing machine, creating collaborative artworks. With this workshop we travel to museums, academies, cultural centres and festivals.

Design work by PrintMakingMoneyGang The Design Kids interviews PrintMakingMoneyGang work-6
Design work by PrintMakingMoneyGang The Design Kids interviews PrintMakingMoneyGang work-6

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