@stayclosetay (real name Rontaye Butler) and I have a serendipitous story. I traveled back to Houston after KolajFest for a day to catch my flight back to Mexico City. I really wanted to bring a large stash of magazines back south of the border, but it was quite unfeasible. So I put out a call on Instagram stories saying that I would rather give them away to folks who would put them to good use. Tay answered immediately that he'd show up to my mom's house in a half hour to scoop up a good handful.
Dude shows up and I think he expected it to be a smash and grab job where I ran out to the car, handed him a box of ephemera and then drive away. But in true Texas fashion, I waved to him from the steps of the house for him to come in, meet the family and personally select his loot. When he came in, I showed him the initial print of TOIL Press (compulsive baby disorder) and we geeked out hard.
"Sprewell" is a limited edition of 50 hand screen-printed Collage Art on 140gm Bristol paper. You can purchase your print directly from the artist @stayclosetay
After numerous attempts to reproduce his work through digital mediums like archival printing and giclee, Tay grew frustrated with the quality of aesthetic he was getting. I expressed that that's exactly the reason for TOIL Press.If I'm not wrong, the words that came out of his mouth were something akin to "You're the answer to my printing prayers. But don't quote me on that. Thus the hype was born! That hype resulted in this "Sprewell" print you see pictured here. I can't describe the immense amount of pride I feel to work with a Collage artist from my hometown.
Taye is a Milwaukee native, Houston transplant. Devoted father and husband by day Collage guru by all other hours of the day.
I've known Chad Yenney for a while now. That is to say we knew of each other's work via the standard social media outlets. You may know him better as @computarded. It was high time to take Chad's work from the small screen to the big screens you see in the video. Dude's got a seriously cool aesthetic that always seems to leave the viewer with an unexpected mix humor and fear of mechanical monsters from the future past. It's been a real pleasure getting to work with Chad personally.
"Forward to the weekend"
I asked Chad a while back if I could use his work to blast off the TOIL Project, to which he responded with nothing but enthusiasm. We chose "Freedom Flowers" to start and are both looking foward to pulling more prints from his rather extensive collection of works in the future. Beyond that he's been instrumental in helping bounce ideas back and forth to help get things going more smoothly.
"Freedom Flowers" is a limited edition of 50 hand screen-printed Collage Art on 140gm Bristol paper. You can purchase your own copy by clicking the link here -------->Store
@computarded is Chad Yenney from Wenatchee, Washington. Audio Engineer Fader Junkie by day, Father 24/7, Collage Artist Cut and Paste ninja by night.
TOIL Press needs the help of EVERYONE to get off the ground! My name is Jay Berrones. As of my 30th Birthday (March 12th) I decided to pick up everything and move to Mexico City to pursue art. At first, it was only to take an internship at a worldclass Screen Printing Studio by the name of "Taller 75 Grados" where I've been able to strengthen my skills and my eye for detail. But I'm not done learning.
Eventually I made friends with a strong group of Artists in Mexico City. The collective goes by the name of ATEA. It was the work of some very persuading Australian friends of mine that I decided to go all in, stay in Mexico City and try to build TOIL Press from the ground up!
This is no easy task. And if I'm completely honest, I don't have a CLUE as to what I'm doing. I just know that it feels right. Have a look at the kickstarter link below and learn more about how you can participate in helping this dream become a reality:
Ya know... when I arrived in Mexico City, I had close to zero idea about how everything was going to work out. And for the most part I still don't. But what I do know is that I'm not done learning yet and that 3 months is simply not enough time to respect the opportunities that keep falling into my lap. At first it was entirely frustrating and completely overwhelming to be sure if I was using my time wisely. Part of this hesistance has a lot to do with the creeping in of age. But that's another story for another day.
What I've come to realize so far is that if I set out to do this thing, (screen printing, Mexico etc) that I have to learn to let go of my made up expectations for myself and let the place, people and opportunities shape my experience. Sometimes this means going for broke! While I have been dead broke, down and out before, this is entirely different. I'm chasing something. That "something" changes everyday but is always revolved around art and the pursuit of a personal goal that will help me and my collage community spread truth.
SO... all this to say that I have decided to jump even further off the deep end and stay in Mexico City for as long as I can. Or at least until my visa runs out and they kindly give me the boot. I had been desparately toiling with the idea all on my own. Which, if you've ever tried to make a decision of this magnitude, I wouldn't recommend making it without consulting new friends and artists in your same position. I happened to meet some incredible Australian ladies with the most impeccable timing. Serendipity sure was a lovely component of our interaction and they helped nudge me just enough to be able to feel confident about this decision.
In order to fund my stay I have to hustle. So I'm offering up the prints that I just completed to help do so. This print is incredibly special to me. Not because there's some deep meaning to the image or astronomical epiphany tied to it. It's the fact that for the first time in my 30 years of pumping blood through my body, I have finally realized a plan and stuck with it. This print is tangible proof and the best part is that it's only the beginning. Like I said before, I don't know how any of the rest of this trip is going to work out. I'll have to fake it, till I make it everyday for a while. But I'm excited about the idea.
I'll be flying to New Orleans in July for Kolaj Magazines first ever "Kolajfest" where I hope to mingle with a ton of my favorite artists and get to know them in person. More importantly I'll get to spread the word about screen printing for my peers in an effort to elevate the medium of collage. Good things are on the horizon.
There's a link in the store if you feel inclined to take part in helping me realize this goal! The support goes a long way!
I believe you learn about yourself working with your hands. Connecting your head to your heart through to the tips of your fingers. There's a space that exists when the three find a rhythm through repitition. This is largely believed to be called "The flow". You can ask any cook worth their salt and find each and every one has fond memories, especially in their rookie years, of slanging pots and pans with station partners in intense heat and feeling the rhythym. This is often referred to as "the dance". More often than not there's a song going on in everyones head, although it may not be the same song, it leaves us all feeling connected. There's a certain satisfaction that comes from moving seamlessly in sync with everything. Your station partner. The pan. Your very own slick signature tong moves to plate food. Especially the connection to knowing your ingredients well enough to leave your butter unattended for just the right amount of time to spin around and catch it before it burns. I even used to talk to my butter. Whisper it sweet nothings like, "Baby you know I'd never let you go down like that" There's nothing like living in that flow.
I do believe I've found my parallel universe.
Everything makes so much sense here in the screen printing world. As a rebellious young terd I used to scoff at the notion of structure always thinking that it was "The Man tryna hold me back"! But like all clueless young terds who can't tell their ass from a whole in the ground, there was never any "Man"; only a little boy holding himself back from using the strength to his advantage that comes from having structure. Also being a stubborn terd, I had to make damn sure that that structure was MY idea and not someone elses idea for me. Once I got over myself at the ripe age of, let's say 27, (maybe I'm a late bloomer) I learned that the chaos I always loved and sought can be controlled in my own little forged "structure".
As this thread continues to grow you'll find a common theme of gratitude to my previous life as a cook because it was the only industry willing to tolerate and care for a college drop out with a snot nose attitude and the foresight of a blind racecar driver like myself and countless others. It has definitely taught me to respect what I do. Not just in relation to food, but to respect the gift that we as humans are privileged with the responsibilty to make things, make them well and make our human friends happy.
it's much the same in screen printing studios. There are tools that primarily get used by hands; which is to say they are also used by the head and heart. There is an utmost level of connection and knowledge of your ingredients necessary to produce high quality art and prints. Have you ever ACTUALLY tried mixing paint?! I mean... whaaaat? But I also said the same thing when I threw flour on top of melted butter for the first time. Like everything else, it's all just a matter of repitition and analyzing process every time you get something wrong.
There's most definitely a parallel for the sacred knife. Although, in this arena, "knives" aren't worshipped and guarded like they are in the cooking realm. At least not to the same degree. That's something that I personally will do a bit different if only as an homage to kitchens. In Mexico they are referred to as "raseros" which is way cooler than its English translation of "squeegee". Nevertheless, it takes a great amount of respect and attention to learn how to properly use a rasero much like it does a knife. One must know without even feeling the edge of the squeegee when its going dull the same way a cook would know their knife ain't worth shit if it won't cut the skin side of a tomato like a hot knife through butter. One must also know how to sharpen their edges and know when to throw the whole knife in the snake pit all together. Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em.
There's rhyme to reason in all aspects of a screen printing studio. Tools must be washed a certain way. Certain chemicals need to be applied in particular fashions. Thus far, most things I've done in the shop triggers deja vu in my hands like I've somehow been here before? Kind of like a painless form of PTSD. My brain knows where to connect the dots for moves that need to be made next. My hands know how to properly handle things with grace and care to the point where I'm tripping out thinking maybe I've done this in a past life. Even the printing table resembling "the pass" makes me feel so at home.
All this to say that I do feel very at home in this niche corner of the art world. So...cool... I've found a home but I don't have any furniture yet. Let's say this furniture represents the tools like tables, knives, drying racks etc. Once I have that furniture, I get to situate it all into a way that allows me to feel at ease in my own home. It would suffice to say that "feng shui" represents knowledge of craft and prowess. The best part about moving in to your new home is watching it come together just like you envision it and eventually invite your friends and family over for beers and barbecue. Maybe even a little skate ramp jam?
All in due time...Stay the course
I've made it to Mexico City.
My name is Jay Anthony Berrones. I am a self taught collage artist first and foremost. Through this medium I've discovered new and invigorating paths to explore in the world of print. All of the things I've done thus far with regards to art have serendipitously led to my moving to Mexico City to study and further my knowledge of screen printing. I spent ten years as a cook prior to locking into the idea that screen printing and art is the way I want to spend the rest of my life. And thanks to the discipline I learned in professional kitchens, I am well equipped for the long road ahead of me. I'll start by saying "Thank you for caring" and disclaiming that I apologize not for about 98% of what you will read in the future in this segment of Toil Press.
It's a safe bet to say I don't waste time doing the things I like doing with the one life I have. This does not exclude going skateboarding in the heart of Mexico City proper at way too high of elevation and heat without drinking enough water. Needless to say I promptly got very sick and spent my first week in bed with a 102 F fever.
Living in Mexico City has been a dream of mine for about 6 years now. Admittedly, I was my own biggest road block in making this dream come true. But there's no time like the present. Ever. So here I am in the land my roots to accomplish a lofty goal of switching careers to something that better suites me, my hairbrained personality and my ever growing awareness of how I can best serve my community of Art. But more on this subject later.
I've been here a month and two weeks by now. I've learned how to properly navigate the subways, made new friends, improved my spanish and nearly perfected how to order tacos with ease. Mexico City is an overwhelming hub of beautiful colors, rich culture and architecture, the likes of which have expanded my horizon in only a months time. The people are warm and quintessentially hard working. And as this is my innaugural post I'd like to keep it light and visual for the sake of easing into this whole "blog" thing.
Every day is a sort of sweet surreal awakening. Leaving the land that I grew up in was far more daunting that I had imagined it would be. Feelings of uncertainty and nervousness were a lot more palpable than I'd care to admit but most of that wares off quickly due to having no choice but to press forward and use what I know. I confess that I thought my spanish would leave me feeling far more equipped than I turned out to be but I'm a good sport and take it all in stride.
I am a chicano. Believe it or not, I feel like I'm learning more about just what that means from planting myself in my roots and learning just how purely Mexican I am not. While I do speak the language well enough to communicate MY ideas, I hadn't anticipated that I would have such a difficult time understanding the dialect of deep south Mexico. So sometimes people are visibly confused and have this look on their face as if to say "How did you not understand me when you just spoke to me in perfect spanish?" Regardless of how weird my accent may sound, I've met nothing but warm and inviting, if not, curious people who feel more like family than strangers.
This move comes at a critical time not just in my own life but also the state of the land which I left in the rear view. In a time where heavy scrutiny of everything is a brutal weight on my personal mental health, I've fled to foreign land seeking to clarify a few things. Some personal. Some social. At first I felt a bit guilty if I'm honest. But the question remains; How can I help others if I'm not properly caring for myself first? Above all my goal is to arm myself with a skill that I believe, wholeheartedly, will aid the under represented voices in the ideological war that boils back home. I can only have faith that those who follow this journey of mine understand and encourage this path and hopefully share in this sentiment.
I'm just now realizing that I mentioned something to the effect of "keeping it light" but I blew it. Anyway, stay tuned and check in once in a while. Say hi or don't but I will bombard you with stories pertaining to the "Adventures in life change" that is Mexico City for me.
Much Love. Encourage one another.