The Archivist is a Bangkok-based screen print studio founded in 2013 by artist-printmaker and graphic designer Min Minchaya Chayosumrit and printer and creative director Woon Kanaporn Phasuk. Their work focuses on collaborating with people from all creative fields, and places an empahsis on the process of printing. ART REPUBLIK speaks with Min and Woon to find out more about The Archivist’s ambitions and the advice they have to share with young creatives.
How did The Archivist come about? Who came up with the idea, and/or what precipitated the creation of this artist-run gallery and screenprinting studio?
The Archivist started when Min wanted to continue the concept of “Hand versus Machine” from her personal project that emerged from her post-graduate studies. With a keen interest in the value between craft work and technology, and as a graphic designer who loves to collect data, experiment, and be in control of production from start to finish, the idea of starting her own silk screen studio seemed attractive against the preference for advanced printing. This was aligned with the goal of Woon, which was to support Thai artists so that their works can be seen and collected on an international level.
Why the name “The Archivist”?
It came from our passion for the process. The term “archive” which means to collect documents or records led us to the term archivist, which means a person who preserves and is in charge of archives for educational purposes. We see ourselves as archivists of the work we have produced and will continue to produce.
The Archivist has collaborated with many artists, designers and illustrators. Could you tell us more about the collaborative process?
We believe that by working with different types of people, we will acquire priceless experiences. Therefore during the first year, we invited designers and artists that we admire to collaborate with us. We have learned not only to deal with the complexity of the work, but also of the people. As we have worked, there are now more and more artists and illustrators who have requested to work with us through word of mouth.
This issue of ART REPUBLIK is themed ‘The A Team’. How does The Archivist work as a team? Who takes up which role, and what are the team dynamics like?
The Archivist is mainly run by two people, Min and Woon, with the roles clearly distributed. Min is the artist and printer who is constantly working and creating unique studio prints. Woon takes care of most of the administrative duties, including assisting in all printing-related duties, taking care of sales and marketing, pricing, and coordinating. By dividing the tasks, we are able to make quick decisions independently.
From your experience with The Archivist and your observation of the Thai/regional art scene, what are the advantages and potential pitfalls of working in teams (e.g. artist collectives) as compared to working as individuals, and why?
Since we started the studio in 2013, we have observed the Thai and regional art scenes progress rapidly. For us as printers, we help facilitate the work of artists to produce gallery-quality prints. The disadvantages for us working as a small team is that we usually have to complete a lot of work within a very limited time, but we wouldn’t have it any other way as we enjoy working as a small and nimble team.
What would you consider The Archivist’s greatest achievements thus far?
Our greatest achievement is that artists and galleries trust us with important jobs when we are just a tiny studio in Bangkok. We often work seven days a week to be able to experiment with new techniques and possibilities for any one piece of work. Sometimes, we have to work with seemingly impossible deadlines because the customers have confidence in us and only us. This makes us proud and spurs us on.
What can we look forward to from The Archivist in 2018? What projects do you have in the works as a group and as individuals?
From February, we have had an exhibition in collaboration with Le Raclet, a screen print studio from Berlin. It has been a great cultural exchange through which we have also gotten to know other screen-printing studios and artists in Europe. For the middle of 2018, we have planned a solo exhibition that showcases all that we have learnt so far about silk-screen printing.
What more do you want to do with The Archivist that remains a dream for now? And what would allow for it to become a reality?
We have always wanted to have our own archive for the future. It would be like a museum where all the knowledge about screen-printing is well preserved for people to be able to learn about them. We know this is not achievable in the near future because it would have to take a lot of time and expertise to get there. Funding would be essential to take care of the prints because they do not only need space, but also to be stored in the right conditions. At the moment, we are just going to focus on collaborating with artists and galleries from all over the world as much as possible.
What advice do you have for young people in creative fields, whether in music, art, dance fashion etc.? What’s the secret formula and/or what is the one characteristic that has contributed to your success?
We would love to tell the youngsters to be persistent and have faith. Believe in whatever you do and always go beyond your limitations physically and mentally. Step out of the comfort zone if you have to and just never stop. Every mistake is a lesson that will guide you and make way for your success. If you have done all of the above, we believe you are already a success.
More information at thearchivist.co.
This article was written for Art Republik 18.
This is part of ‘Better Together’, a series of conversations about how people have banded together in innovative ways to create, exhibit, teach, discuss and archive art in Southeast Asia, brought to you by ART REPUBLIK both online and in print.