Shaye Remba

Shaye Remba Shaye Remba
Interview conducted by Victoria "Tori" Ramirez (Pitzer).

Shaye Remba is the director of Mixografia, a printing business in Downtown Los Angeles. Shaye and his family have been in the printing business for three generations. developed by Shaye and his father Luis Remba, the Mixografia printing technique allows artists to create three-dimensional printings. Through the Mixografia printmaking technique, artists have the ability to expand their creativity and explore new parameters. At Mixografia, over 600 editions have been printed by 89 artists and exhibited in locations around the world. Shaye continues to develop new machinery and techniques that work towards redefining the printmaking practice.

As director of Mixografia, what does your typical day look like?

My daily responsibilities are split between managing the workshop as administrative, front-office, and gallery-related tasks. At any given time, the workshop will be producing at least one edition or a series of editions. However we are usually working on several projects at a time and we are often developing the techniques for numerous upcoming projects. I work with my team of four Master Printers to whom I delegate specific projects. Because our process involves a great deal of trial and error and muscle memory, usually each printer will be assigned the bulk of creating certain editions. When we are developing projects, I will set up experiments with the Master Printers for techniques that have not factored into other projects, and we will do these and adjust until we get the results we want. I also work with our preparatory to mix batches of paper pulp and daily machine maintenance.

In the office, I work with our Assistant Directors on general correspondence, sales, and all of our public programming. We are always preparing for exhibitions, art fairs, and various events throughout the year so this requires a lot of coordination with everyone to make sure we are all on the same page.

What type of environment do you try to create within Mixografia between both artists and visitors?

Whether it’s with artists or the public, we strive to be as open and accommodating as possible. In our relationships with artists, we provide the full extent of our resources to make sure their original intention is realized accurately and effectively. We will go to great lengths to make sure the project is exactly what the artist envisioned. We have a very open-ended and dialogue-based approach with the artists and are always happy to experiment no matter how complicated or intricate an idea might be. The exact process differs from artist to artist, and depends entirely on their preferences and the specific demands of each project. Some artists prefer to send us a fully-conceived idea that we translate into a paper print, and other projects involve a more collaborative approach with the artist and their studio.

We also operate as a gallery space that is free and open to the public. We have a rotating gallery program with exhibitions and other events year-round, including artist talks, film screenings, and workshop tours. We often give larger group tours by appointment, but walk-in visits are always welcome and we are happy to show people around and answer any questions they might have.

What sparked the idea to create a new and innovative technique like Mixografia? With the unique three-dimensional Mixografia print, how have artists been able to expand language and creativity?

Our experimental approach stems largely from my father and Mixografia founder Luis Remba’s work with Rufino Tamayo when we had our shop in Mexico City. While we had already been using handmade paper before working with Tamayo, he’s really the artist who pushed us to expand the process to new heights. His 17-year collaboration with us introduced a degree of both scale and multi-media experimentation that was otherwise unheard of in printmaking before.

Due to these innovations, artists started recognizing the experimental potential in what we were doing and because each artist is different, our process continues to evolve with each and every project we have done. I mean this both conceptually and technically, by introducing texture to an increasingly dramatic level but also by inviting ideas that are otherwise not possible within the traditional approaches to the medium.

What are some of the proudest achievements for Mixografia?

I would say that one of our greatest technical achievements is the monumental Tamayo edition Dos Personajes Atacados por Perros. It’s also just a magnificent work of art that we are grateful to have worked on.

Another very important and ongoing accomplishment has been our growth in Los Angeles and the opportunity to work with many of the great artists of our time, including John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, Helen Frankenthaler, Louise Bourgeois, Analia Saban, Jonas Wood, Alex Israel and many more.

Are there any sustainability practices used during the Mixografia process? (e.g. how materials are used/reused/recycled/etc.)

I have worked over the years to refine our process and lower our carbon footprint. We make all of our paper from domestic 100% cotton pulp, and I am continually developing new methods and materials that are less harmful to the environment and that can be easier to recycle if they become waste.  We try to apply the best practices available for the processes and social events at the gallery.

How has Covid-19 affected Mixografia? 

Certainly the entire world and every field has been dramatically impacted by the coronavirus crisis, and the art world and Mixografia are no exception. It has affected every aspect of our business, from production to sales. We have had to halt production entirely in the midst of several important projects, which is especially difficult since the shop and our artist relationships are really our top priority at the end of the day.

However, looking at the positives where I can, we have been doing the best we can to adjust to the circumstances by maintaining an active program and expanding our presence online. We have used this as an opportunity to explore the digital space and all that it has to offer, especially in our increasingly digital world. We have constructed a fully interactive 3D rendering of our gallery space, where we plan to continue “hosting” exhibitions. Meanwhile, we are also working on organizing virtual events such as talks and other engagements. We just concluded a roundtable discussion with many of John Baldessari’s close collaborators throughout Los Angeles, who all contributed some artworks to our memorial exhibition Wrong is Right.

What future aspirations do you have for Mixografia?

Our motivation continues to be the pursuit of great work, both technically and creatively. We are always reaching out to the next generation of artists who will continue to push the conversation forward. It all comes down to staying current and adapting along with the world and the art landscape, which certainly is changing daily before our eyes. Overall, we are always open to any discoveries, surprises, and challenges that happen to come our way, and I’m very excited to see what’s on the horizon!

Shaye Remba