Himmelblau Printmaking Studio is located in the heart of Tampere, within the historic Finlayson factory area. Founded in 1989, it has a handsome workshop with a spacious gallery, featuring changing exhibitions by outstanding artists.
The workshop employs some of the finest printers in Europe. Editions of fine art prints are created there – works by masters of the tradition of intaglio, as well as works by artists of a new generation of printmaking. Artists are invited to the workshop to create new work, with the staff’s assistance. Himmelblau specializes in copperplate intaglio printmaking techniques, and occasionally uses other methods, including woodcut.
The gallery has changing exhibitions, alongside a vast collection of prints by artists who have worked with Himmelblau over the years. By 2011 Himmelblau has published 1500 editions.
A Print is a Work of Art
The long tradition of printmaking dates back to the 15th century. For several centuries, art graphics was mainly used as a complement to book printing and painting: famous paintings and compositions were transferred onto plates. During the centuries of imitative tracing, copper and wood engraving reached their technical height.
It was not until the latter half of the 19th century that actual art graphics became more popular. Copper engraving and line etching were accompanied by new methods such as mezzotint and aquatint. At present, choosing the technique is a form of art in itself.
In printmaking, the plates play a central role because they transfer the images onto paper. Everything on the plate is of an artist’s choice. Indeed, printmaking is a domain that brims with individual artistic and technical decisions and solutions.
The plate is not an end, an artwork in itself, but a means. Heikki Malme, Chief curator of the printmaking and drawing collection of the Ateneum Art Museum has drawn an analogy between a plate and musical scores – both need execution to interact with the audience.
Because it is of fundamental importance to master the printmaking technique, printmakers have had professionals working for them ever since the 15th century. The professionals follow instructions and attend to the actual craft of printmaking. Artists can always rely on the professionals’ skill and artistry.
Even if the plate is printed by someone else than the artist, the resulting print is nevertheless an original. The plate contains all the information, but slight variation between prints is accepted. It is ultimately the artist’s signature what signifies that a print is qualified in an edition.