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Sun, Surf, and Screen Printing: A report from la zona serigrafica

(September 2004) posted on Thu Sep 16, 2004

Discover Mexico City's most densely populated graphics-production district.

click an image below to view slideshow

By Andy MacDougall


In most parts of the USA, it's a given that a week or two in midwinter spent relaxing on a sunny beach is a good thing. It's not much different here in Canada, where everything gets covered in the white stuff around November and most people join the bears in a state of hibernation until the ground reappears in April. The lucky ones make like the birds and flock off south, heading for Mexico--Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, or Cancun.

The Pacific and Caribbean beaches annually draw 20 million pasty-skinned gringos to Mexico for holidays that involve sun, sand, surf, beer, tequila, more sun, more beer, and maybe a swim--just about everything that has nothing to do with screen printing. Sure, you might pick up a screen-printed T-shirt or two on your trip, or a funny bumper sticker, but squeegees, mesh counts, and exposures are the last things a person thinks about while on holiday in Mexico. Well, just about everyone.

"You want to go where?" my long-suffering partner of the heart inquired, with a mixture of suspicion and curiosity. "How far is that from the beach?" Her bubble of joy, which had swelled at the suggestion of a mid-winter getaway, popped quicker than a 40-N/cm screen brushing against the business end of an X-Acto blade. I had mentioned the "S" word in the same sentence as holiday.

Trying my best to sound convincing, I replied: "Cuernavaca and Mexico City. We'll go visit Juan and Octavio and check out this cool place in Mexico City where screen printers and suppliers line the streets with racks, T-shirt presses, and other equipment on display and blocking the sidewalk. It's amazing!"

"I'm not riding buses for three days just to go look at screen-printing equipment," she said.

"I'll rent a car!" I quickly blurted out. "It'll be fun!" Meanwhile, my mind conjured up a disturbing vision of a cliff, a car racing toward a jagged seascape, and a bunch of cows all over the road. "We'll spend most of the time at the beach," I assured her.

"Well, in that case, I'll need new luggage," she said. I knew the trip was on!

So we made plans to include a visit to La Zona Serigrafica in Mexico City.


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