“Pirate Printers” Are Using Manhole Covers to Print Urban Designs Directly onto Shirts and Totes

Who says you need a fancy printing press and machinery to create your own t-shirt designs? The Berlin collective called Raubdruckerin (“Pirate Printers”) have taken to their own city streets with only a paint roller, ink, and a keen eye for geometric patterns. The group finds street fixtures—like manhole covers and vents—applies ink directly to the ground, and then they stamp these intricate designs onto shirts and tote bags.

The real work of the street art pirates is to reveal the neglected designs of the city—the little exhibits on show for us everyday that we often walk right over without notice. The diversity and creativity that goes into designing a simple manhole cover is astounding, and deserves to be celebrated. Although Raubdruckerin is headquartered in Berlin, the collective travels around the world, discovering the literal street art of cities like Lisbon, Amsterdam, and Paris. Each city has its unique patterns and typography that goes into simple street fixtures. Each manhole cover and grate becomes a chance to study a different culture.

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