The Busato family print shop has been based for over 70 years in the historic centre of Vicenza, in a 16th-century building. Giancarlo Busato has inherited the workshop founded in 1946 by his grandfather Ottorino, who had worked for over twenty years in the most important print shops in the Veneto region. His grandson continues the family passion and has been working since 1996 in chalcography and lithography, using exclusively artisan printing systems that have remained unchanged over time, spending his days among the presses, templates, inks and paper. A visit to the print shop in the heart of the city is a truly fascinating and very special experience. Its passionate owner is always ready to welcome visitors with stories and live demonstrations. Busato also does a lot of teaching to pass on his beloved craft to young people.
Tell us your story.
I come from a family of printers: my grandfather Ottorino started his own business in 1946 as a lithographer, mainly for commercial products: labels, business cards, posters. Then my father Giuliano took over, and with the evolution of commercial printing, the print shop was faced with new challenges and had to modernise the machinery to keep up with technology. In the 1960s it was decided to make a commitment to artistic printing using lithography, xylography and intaglio techniques, and so the print shop became an incubator for artists. I now carry on the tradition by broadening the vision of the printer not only within the artisan workshop, but also through outreach to schools, courses, collaborations with Italian Cultural Institutes and guided tours with printing demonstrations for visiting tourists.
I come from a family of printers: my grandfather Ottorino started his own business in 1946 as a lithographer, mainly for commercial products: labels, business cards, posters.
A craftsman is someone who works with his hands and must have the aptitude for making and creating.
When did you realise that this would be your job? Is there a particular event you remember?
For me it is something innate, there is no when or why, I have always been at the print shop since I was a child, immersed in paper, the inks and the artists who animated the workshop. For me, holidays were a joy because I could go to the print shop all day long. When I was a child, I had to climb on a chair to get to the workbench to print, and my father used to put a plastic bag cut at the base as an apron. One day I was there, printing one of my engravings, and master Vico Calabrò came in. Seeing me at work, he stopped, handed me one of his small plates and said: “You print this one”.
Can you explain the technique you use?
When artists come to me to print, I can offer them three types of work: woodcut, lithography and engraving with all the chalcographic techniques, such as direct techniques like drypoint, burin and black manner, or indirect techniques like etching, aquatint and ceramolle. What is fundamental is that in order to create an original graphic work, all the work of the artist and the printer must be manual! This implies a great deal of work for the artist who, before starting to work on the matrix, must always remember the inversion of the final work and the fact that it can rarely be erased. Once the artist has finished his work, the printer has to ink the matrix and print it by hand using a star shaped press. Only in engraving is it possible to print in colour directly with a single pass (à la poupée) but always in areas and shades, never with precision: in short, a lot of hard work and effort, but the emotion of lifting the sheets from the press and waiting for the finished work after so long next to the artist is for me something incomparable.
How important is the relationship with the artist?
The relationship with the artist is fundamental! It is based on mutual trust and a continuous exchange of one's professionalism without ever going beyond one's own competence. It is a gear that has to fit together.
What does being a craftsman mean to you?
A craftsman is someone who works with his hands and must have the aptitude for making and creating. The workshop is a forge of ideas and people who animate it and keep it going through the relationships of trust that I have established with colleagues from other sectors. But also through the artists who still today bring me new ideas and visions from the world, including the digital world, trying to interconnect it with manual work. For me, the worst month is August because my hands are clean...
What does it mean to be MAM?
Being MAM: the print shop has received several awards, but this one is different! For me, being MAM is first and foremost synonymous with protection, it means being part of a family where all together in the different activities we believe in our daily efforts and love for our work. MAM is therefore not only a very important recognition but also an extra strength that makes me realise that all my efforts are listened to and supported by people who recognise the person first and foremost as an irreplaceable resource: how wonderful to be MAM!