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The Robbery Printer: Reverse Street Art on Textiles

Caroline Zöller

Published on 22.08.2020

“raubdruckerin” is an experimental print-graphic project that uses manhole covers, gratings, technical objects and other surfaces of the urban landscape to transfer unique patterns to textiles and accessories. The exploration of the surfaces of cities is the core of the project. In her work, the artist is on the lookout for overlooked, seemingly insignificant details on the flooring, which in print turn out to be real urban artworks. Her work shows parts of a city in a new context, full of stories, diversity and creativity. The people who wear these prints become part of the project. They are given the opportunity to discover beauty where one would not expect it. For the motifs, change the perspective and perception of the urban environment.

Reverse Street Art

Emma-France Raff refers to her work and the process of printing an urban detail onto a shirt, hoodie, bag or pouch as reverse street art. A part of the city is pulled out of its origin and brought back to life in a different context. The printed motifs are also the other way round, because writing and images appear mirror-inverted on the textiles.

raubdruckerin was founded in 2006. Emma-France Raff developed the concept of working with manhole covers together with her father, the painter Johannes Kohlrusch, in his studio in the rural Alentejo in Portugal. At that time she studied textile design and made some test prints on fabric. The project was born. Under the name Estampatampa the first “robbery prints” were presented at the “Festival Musicas do Mundo” 2006 in the city of Sines. After a project break, the artist took up the idea again in Berlin, inspired by the immense wealth of the urban structures there, and made it her main project.

Unique pieces from the studio or online store

The prints were initially offered at selected design markets and events. This was followed in 2015 by the opening of a temporary pop-up store in Berlin’s hip Nikolai quarter, together with other young designers. Currently, the works of the pirate printer can be seen in a shared studio in Boddinstraße in Berlin or can be purchased through this online store (link

Robbery prints from many metropolises

The team around raubdruckerin is located in Berlin, but is not limited to this city. They also visit other metropolises, such as Amsterdam, Lisbon, Madrid and Paris. Traveling is part of the concept. Printing in public space is an essential part of the concept and opens up opportunities for spontaneous interaction with passers-by. The dependence on weather and time makes the project organic. A certain imperfection, also in the print results, is intentional and is part of it.

Sustainable low-tech printing

Each textile print is unique, printed by hand on site in the urban space, directly on the discovered structure. The prints are produced in a low-tech printing process that uses no other materials such as printing plates, screens or other resources apart from painter’s roller and paint. All products are sustainably printed with ecological, water-based textile ink on textiles made of fair traded organic cotton.

This video shows the creation of the motifs and the printing technique.

pictures and video: raubdruckerin