After the invention of Guttenberg's moveable-type printing presses, the art of printing exploded in the Venetian lagoon. By the end of the 15th century, there were over 200 busy printing houses in the city. In these vibrant hives, writers, composers, translators, editors and master printers collaborated to pen, proof and edit their works. They also experimented with layouts and fonts, as Aldo Manuzio, who cleverly created the italics font in order to squeeze in as much information as possible on his pages fit for a smaller hand-held paperback design. The Venetian State was also heavily involved in this thriving industry, and was it known to lay down harsh penalties for poor ink and paper quality.
In the quiet area of Cannaregio in Venice, I happened to walk into a real gem of a studio called La Bottega del Tintoretto. This lab, which is located next to the house of Tintoretto, was opened in 1986 and it holds presses and equipment recovered from historical Venetian presses. Venice was once the mega-printing capital of the world, and this studio collective seeks to preserve and share its extensive tradition. Here, one can study classical techniques in engraving, wood-cutting, and lithography. I have had the absolute pleasure of working in this creative oasis for some of my own projects, as well as bringing groups of my art students here for workshops. Just walking into this space and its stacks of acquired books and prints and hanging notes, it is more than evident that one has set foot in a truly inspirational and creative place.
interested in visiting? A link to the studio's web-site can be found here: BOTTEGA DEL TINTORETTO