Interview with Workshop Director,
Jeroen van den Maagdenberg
an interesting concept: a public workshop for professionals. Usually publicly-funded
ateliers are for students or amateurs. How did this one for professionals come
We started in 1958 (virtually at the beginning of the 60's) as
an artists' initiative. Now it is a Foundation with a board. There is also an
advisory board with art critics, and qualified artists. In the beginning it was
composed of visual artists who shared their presses, knowledge, and views on visual
What is your workshop like physically?
: 500 m2, 15 presses, silkscreen, etching, lithography, relief printing, foto-etching.
We are now starting in 44-inch-wide digital printing. All environmentally friendly!
Sponsored mainly by the City council of Amsterdam
is the neighbourhood like?
In the old centre of Amsterdam called 'de
Jordaan' where most of the contemporary visual art gallerys and institutions are
How many staff do you have working currently?
Two technical assistants
many artists can work at the same time?
you have other activities besides printmaking, such as classes, exhibits, etc?
courses silkscreen,master classes photo etching (started with the help of Edinburgh
We have an alliance with a visual art school (they stop more
and more traditional printing) one day a week we are open for students of Rietveld
Academy for visual art.
We have also begun an 'Artist in Residence' programme.
Thus far we have hosted artists from Japan, California, Indonesia, and Surinam.
you print publishers, as well? Do you sell prints?
No. We don't have
a selling gallery, or selling stock.
Sometimes we sell prints to sponsors to
fund our projects.
If you had to start again, what
would you do differently?
We would start earlier with the combination
of open studio for professional graphic artists combined with collaborative work
with individual artists. Our external advisory board invites the last. This works
very well and gives the studio a quality standard. Over the years we have become
involved in environmentally-friendly printing and now we have a professional staff.
your workshop unique or different from the others? In what ways?
course we are unique. In Holland there are about 15 studios' that work with a
board and are subsidized by the city councils. Only about five studios work like
us with a paid and professional staff.
How are artists
selected to work at your atelier? Who decides if they're professional enough?
How do foreign artists apply?
Every artist who is professional visual
artist and who knows how to use the presses is welcome. This works the same with
foreign artists. These artists have to pay the normal fee for the use of the studio
and materials they use. Some artists are invited by our external advisory board
(They don't have to pay the fee for working in the studio and get individual support
from the staff). Every artist can ask for it by sending CV documentation, and
We the staff decide who is professional who is not. It is not
a thorough selection. We are not the 'printing or visual art police.' A professional
attitude is important; we don't judge, images, etc. (The advisory board does for
projects and requests!)
In this way we remain a professional studio and
have the possibility to refuse people who 'like to work as amateurs in their spare
What is your method of working with artists?
We are responsible for good facilities and a good atmosphere. The artists
are responsible for handling the presses in a good way and for their own printing.
So artists work for themselves. The technical staff has two jobs: first to look
after the facilities in the studio and answer small regular questions. Then, secondly,
to work on a collaborative basis with artists selected by the advisory board.
What artists have you worked with?
in Holland. But not world famous. The artists are visual artists mostly working
How do you feel about the current
moment in printmaking? Are you optimistic or pessimistic? Why?
optimistic. Art schools are closing their print studios. Young artists know less
about printmaking. Big digital printers are better and better and become cheaper
and cheaper. At this moment we are testing an Epson 9600 Pro for printing but
more important for making films for silkscreen, plate litho and photo etching.
What do you think are the major issues the community
of printmakers needs to address?
I/ To make an interesting and experimental
environment where traditional and digital imaging are not two separate worlds
but work together.
II/ Printmaking makes it possible to spread visual
art in our society. Engagement in visual art is important nowadays and printmaking
can play a role in it because the art pieces are less expensive and can be better
distributed in the world because of the possibility of publishing editions.
you have norms for the editions done in your workshop? What are they? What do
you consider the numerical limit for a true limited edition? Or does the limit
vary according to the different print media?
Yes and no. It depends
completely upon the artistic project in question. We like editions up to 20 in
signed and limited prints. But, as I said, we are not the 'printing police.'
the best thing about running a printmaking workshop? And the worst?
is one of the few spaces where artists really work together or in each other's
neighbourhood. The worst is the funding of the studio, which is always a problem.
the marketplace, who buys limited-edition fine-art prints?
sell prints. The artists do, they are responsible for exploring the market. Besides
in gallerie, many artists sell them to companies who rent the prints out to the
offices of business companies. Holland has many art-libraries where you can rent
visual art either as an individual or as a company.
do you think might be done to make art buyers more aware of the true limited-edition
Nothing. We are not the 'printed art police'. It is
a market problem the artists has to solve themselves. What is the price of a fake
'Warhol'? How many side-editions did the artist or fakers make? Nowadays the prices
of photography are high and what you see is that photographers, galleries sometimes
do what they like and print a new edition. Or Photoshop something in the original
and make a new original. It is very interesting. It can be a part of a visual
art project to cheat the public. But cheating is cheating
is your opinion of the current upsurge of digital fine-art prints?
printing is an important new tool for the artists. Like many other new tools.
So nothing special. We are focussed on having both the traditional and new tools
in the studio so that the artists can use the tools they want. Facilitating artists
in their experiments and development; that's what we want to do.
the traditional hand-pulled print "coexist peacefully" with the digital
Yes, the colour brightness of digital prints will never be the
same with the hand-pulled print.
What are your principal
sources of information about the world of printmaking?
who visit our studio from all over the world and the Dutch artists who visit the
studios in the rest of the world.
Where do you think
printmaking will go in the next 10 years?
The strong thing of printmaking
studios is its worldwide network. This network has to innovate. The chances are
in facilitating the artists. So working with digital printing and traditional
printing are the only way to survive. The thread is focussing on traditional printing
only. Chances: make alliances with other facilitating studios or institutions.
Is it inspiring, working so close to Rembrandt?
is inspiring to work in the city of Amsterdam. There is a very lively visual art
scene in Holland and Amsterdam is its centre. Visual artists are working, experimenting
with all the tools there are and trying to get their hands on the tools that are
not available yet.