Discovering The Roots Factory

Article By: sandieganliz Photos By: Gio Blitz

The Roots Factory is a screen-printing, graffiti art workshop where various artists can go and display their work among the walls, shirts, and canvasses available. Such artists include Ricardo Islas, Maxx Moses, and Pandemic. The Roots Factory also celebrated their one year anniversary in late January at Soundwave in Mission Beach. On display were Roots Factory shirts and artist paintings. NUG Magazine visited their shop in Barrio Logan to discover the roots of their inspiration.

The Roots Factory started three years ago with Bob Green and Ana Brown. They were known as Phat Roots and worked with Voz Alta, a grassroots organization dedicated to the same type of art display and community involvement. Then, a little over a year ago, they got a shop and named it The Roots Factory. From there, they concentrated on production and event participation. Since then, they have used their shop as an artist’s studio, working with all kinds of local street artists. They produce their own events, shirts, and posters as well as screen-printing classes.

One of the main goals of The Roots Factory is to showcase conscientious art on events happening in the political field or that which displays true culture, which also includes graffiti and freedom art. One important issue to them is the U.S. – Mexico border. This includes immigration and border policies.

Upon entry to the shop, there are two murals – one is located to the side and the other is right next to the entrance. This time, the one by the entrance was sprayed by Enue, an artist from New York. He sprayed his name and backed it with a good use of color. However, art is seen everywhere: on the walls, on canvasses, on wood panels, and even lying around on the floor. In fact, when you make your way to The Roots Factory office area and plop down on their couch, you are surrounded by pure art. Murals of graffiti work, paint, and stencil work are on display. It’s like an Alice in Wonderland feel, but you’re chillin’ on a couch.

Local artists who have worked with The Roots Factory include Brandon Roth, Mike Maxwell, and Pandemic. Roth was there during NUG Magazine’s visit and told us how he did some freehand art by the San Diego harbor on a tree. He mentioned a visitor from Colorado saw his work and hired him to do more of it out-of-state, expenses paid and all. Roth has designed material for The Roots Factory, including a design for their clothing line and a tin rooster piece used for an IFC Channel event. Other artists like Mike Maxwell and an artist from Philly named Maxx Moses display work at The Roots Factory – both have sprayed their walls. In fact, according to The Roots Factory, there are plans to throw an event showcasing a “Max’ vs. Maxx” display. Pandemic is a favorite artist who is known for his murals among San Diego. Besides contributing to the clothing line as well, he hand draws artistic face imagery.

The Roots Factory is also involved in a lot of events. The biggest event is their screen-printing workshops where they offer three courses for members and non-members to learn a quick how-to on screen-printing. These courses include intro. & design, screen-printing a 1-color design, and screen-printing a 2-color design. The Roots Factory goes through a step-by-step process on how to get a design from idea to computer to shirt or poster. And, of course, with their screen-printing workshop is the production of their own line of shirts, which features designs from about 16 artists, including those just mentioned.

They also hold live screen-printing at music showcases. This is where they attend events, work with artists in attendance, and make shirts before a crowd. Some notable past events include “TNT” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Restitution Tour of 2011 Arts Show at the Bluefoot Bar, and the School of Guerrilla Arts, a self-produced event. If they’re not making shirts at the event, they are showcasing street art, including paintings, posters, and their shirts with mixing via DJ Ana Brown.

As mentioned, The Roots Factory just celebrated their one year anniversary, which also launched the showcase of Roots Factory shirts at their event at Soundwave. Back in February, they had a clothing release party that took place at the Tribal Store on Fifth Avenue. It included artist appearances from Isaias Crow, Ricardo Islas, and “Ronie”. There was also live music from Cumbia Machin and live art made by Crow. Another recent event was the Dia de La Mujer celebration held in San Ysidro at The Front. This art exhibit displayed the celebration of women. It included a poetry reading and live music. The Roots Factory displayed their line of shirts while DJ Ana Brown entertained the crowd with some mixes of sultry old-school music, such as that from Portishead.

The Roots Factory operates to produce art, events, and convey political messages. Their goal is to showcase street art, especially that which delivers a message. Whether it has to deal with border issues, graffiti, or any kind of freedom of expression, it is a way to convey that the streets are alive with thought and culture. Thus, artists can take to The Roots Factory and inspire change. Thank you Roots Factory for allowing NUG Magazine to discover the roots of your inspiration!

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