A little bird told me…

Art and culture

Today I’m going to introduce you to Chorlito!

Rafa comes from Madrid, but has been living in Tenerife for fifteen years. After working as a librarian and graphic artist, he founded a screen printing workshop in El Médano three years ago.

What is screen printing?

Before I tell you more about his project and his philosophy, we should first get to know this printing technique (from the Latin “sericum”, meaning “silk”, and from the Greek “graphein”, meaning “the script”), which uses a template (originally made of silk, hence its name). The technique was developed by the Chinese in the 10th century and can be applied to a variety of media. For example, did you know that Andy Warhol’s famous portraits of Marilyn Monroe were printed with this technique?

Chorlito opted for screen printing with textiles. In fact, he had long been pursuing the idea of creating his own t-shirt brand, and that was how he was able to make it happen. His philosophy is that anyone can buy a high quality item with an original design without paying an exorbitant price.

What is your project based on?

The screen printing:

When Rafa made the decision to establish his brand, he studied the market. He quickly realized, that if another company printed his T-shirts, he would not be able to sell them at the price he wanted. So he began to look for a way to do the printing himself and came across screen printing. The initial investment is relatively small and the technology produces immediate results. So he decided to start training in this field. He went to a workshop in Madrid where he learned the basics of this technique and how to make some tools. In addition, he expanded his knowledge through Internet videos and experiments in his living room, which became his first workshop and where he learned from initial mistakes.

El diseño:
His experience as a graffiti artist and graphic designer allows him to create original designs. He prefers to work in small series and tries to produce a new model every three weeks.
He is also working on a collaborative project with artists (photographers, illustrators and graffiti artists) to complete his collection.


Rafa wants its creations to have a minimal impact on the environment. That’s why he works with organic cotton, Modal or Tencel articles, which can prevent the use of pesticides, for example. He has also decided to use water-based paints in order not to cause additional soiling. In fact, the classic plastisol inks are full of chemical products and the residues from the cleaning of tools and machines are toxic. Although he buys textiles made in Asia, he pays attention to brands with the label “Fairwear foundation”. This stands for ethical production, which is guaranteed after an audit of the manufacturing process and the working conditions for employees.

Chorlito has not found any suppliers for this type of textiles in the Canary Islands, so he buys them on the peninsula, which leads to more complicated warehousing due to the additional transport and customs times.
For the remaining materials, however, he always tries to purchase them in the Canary Islands and thus support the local economy.

In practice, what does it look like?

Rafa prepares his designs at home. As soon as he is convinced by a picture, he prints it in black and white on a transparent plastic film.
Then he goes to his workshop, where he has been working for a little over two years to continue the process.

Now it’s time for the technical part
and I will try to sum it up for you in the easiest way.

The motif is placed on a wooden frame in which a fabric is stretched that has previously been coated with a light-sensitive emulsion (a liquid that reacts to light). The screen and design are then exposed to the sun or an ultraviolet lamp. On contact with light, the emulsion solidifies except in the opaque areas of the copy.

Rafa then positions the frame on the machine (which is called “octopus” because of its arms) and places it under the article he wants to be printed. The ink is then distributed manually and evenly with a device (the “scraper”). The ink penetrates the screen and adheres to the fabric.

This is followed by the magical moment when he raises the frame and has his design printed for the first time. Rafa kindly suggested that I try it myself and so I printed the beautiful drawing he had prepared especially for MAKA. The moment I saw my first print, I understood all the emotion he felt in his work.

The next step is to dry the items in a special oven that draws the water out of the ink.

His T-shirts, sweatshirts and fabric bags are then marketed on his website and in shops in Tenerife, Gran Canaria and La Palma. You can also meet Rafa in his workshop or at some festivals in the Canary Islands.

It is even possible to ask him for special orders to help him finance himself.

Though you may have noticed that his motif for Maka with the little sparrow – with a head full of ideas – does not quite do justice to the popular “birdbrain” expression.





Móvil: +34 675 84 13 18

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