How long have you been printing?
I started printing with movable types 8 years ago, in 2009.
Describe your first encounter with letterpress
Well, more than an encounter was an unintentional re-encounter. I - together with a designer friend - decided to join a letterpress workshop organized by a school of Barcelona (even not knowing really the general purpose of the workshop). I did not have a real interest and I was following my curiosity rather than anything else. As I was stepping inside the workshop, a very intense and unexpected feeling overtook me. Suddenly, by the smell of the ink, oil and paper I found myself in the printing workshop where my father used to work when I was a child. I relived the magical sensation of lifting the paper from the press when I could barely reach it tiptoe, the emotion of rummaging through the debris of the guillotine looking for material to make small notebooks, or simply to cuddle the perfect cut with my fingertips... I was experiencing all that with the same intensity as I did almost forty years ago. All of a sudden a flood of memories of which I was not aware of imploded without control. After this kind of epiphany I decided that those feelings should be repeated. So I restored an old proof press and, in a space of just 10 m2, I set up my first workshop.
Where did you learn?
I learned on my own, looking everywhere where I could find something. At the beginning the leading furniture was so unattainable for me that as an alternative I broke some separators to use them as shelf: the Pantone guide to the bow of the coffee shop looked very cool in that strange furniture. Over time, and based on trial/error I learned the technique, however whenever I look at the cardboard separators that are in that furniture, I still blush!!!!
Who was your most influential teacher?
I had a great teacher (and best friend); José Baltanás. He not only taught me many of the things that I have learned about design and teaching, but also he showed me his facsimile of H.N. Werkman’s work, whom I have never stopped admiring.
What super power would you like to have?
I would be happy speaking acceptable English!
Do you prefer to work alone or with others?
The creative part of my work is very personal and I need to develop it by myself, along with my music and plenty of time ahead. Mounting and printing do not require so much introspection. Nevertheless I enjoy teamwork. I love learning new ways of working, and this is an excellent way to do it.
What do you most value in your friends?
I am not looking in my friends for any specific characteristic, and I do not have any request towards them – well, beyond the minimum values that are taken for granted – I think that all the people to whom I have a special friendship have great qualities that make it possible: those are the qualities that really interests me...
When do your best ideas occur to you?
Usually when I have been spending a great deal of time working on them.
If you were to die and come back as a typeface, which would it be?
... I can only choose one? Surely it would be some of the Stephenson Blake catalog. Maybe the ingenuity and robustly of the Grotesque nº 9
What tool do you use more often than any other?
I am spending all day rearranging and fixing my workshop; so... I think the tool I am using most is the electric screwdriver!
What books are currently on your nightstand?
Even though I do not read at night, now I have a couple of books on my nightstand. One is about Alexey Brodovitch and the other is El imperio de los Signos of Roland Barthes (although I certainly do not expect reading them in the next coming weeks!).
If you could study with any printer throughout history, who would it be?
I could be tempted to say some classics like Jenson or Manuzio, but I cannot be unfaithful to H.N. Werkman.
If you have your own shop, what equipment do you own?
On one hand I have a relative large collection of lead and wood type, but on the other hand the access to my workshop (through a narrow staircase leading to a basement) does not allow me to introduce machinery of a certain size, so I essentially print with a schizophrenic percussion press (a binding press). I think I would enjoy having a big Korrex or a FAG in my workshop
If you could change one thing about your shop, what would it be?
I wish it was at street level with a small window... Then happiness would be almost complete. (It’s really a bunker!)
When and where are you the happiest?
I love the moment when I know that I have just reached the idea that I was looking for. It is easy to recognize; a little switch inside me that goes “click”, very difficult to hear... I am not very conformist, so those moments are as rare as precious.
Besides, I really love when my youngest daughter come to the workshop with her friends. I enjoy the way she explains – so proudly – how the gadgets work while her friends look around amazed.
What is your greatest fear/worry?
My workshop is placed in a basement... my main concern is that it does not get flooded!!!
What do you think is useful about what you make?
Like most of my colleagues what I do in BunkerType is, among other things, to give new life to objectively outdated tools... Perhaps the interesting part is that each one is following different methods and, often, the final use does not have much relation with the original tool. I believe this achievement is very interesting.
What’s your day job?
My daily job is teaching in different design schools of Barcelona
Do you use any other techniques or media besides letterpress?
I am very demanding and I like to be as much precise as possible, so beforehand I try out all my work on the computer. I print separately all the options I can think about. I set up all the parts separately with all the options I need to consider. Later, once everything has been scanned, I combine all the options I can think of. It is rather slow, but so we are the designers... rather obsessive!!!!