We visited the Upiglio Printworks (Stamperia Upiglio), which is hidden away in a courtyard near the Pirelli skyscraper, in Milan.

"GRAFICA UNO" is the name of the printworks lab, which opened in the early '60s and for many years has been the reference point for artists that worked in engraving: Morandi, de Chirico, Günter Grass, Lam, Duchamp, Baj, Fontana and many more besides.

When did you embark on this line of work?

I started helping my father and my uncle in 1944, when I was 12. The family printworks was called ATLAS (which, in Italian, stands for Company of Ambrosian Lithographic-Type Arts), but at the times we worked with words and not with images. It was at the start of the '60s that I decided to make the "big jump" and install presses exclusively for my own use in Via Fara, Milan, and started to work with artist friends that frequented my father's printworks. I also started investing in small-scale productions which we brought to life in my studio.

So your training also took place in the studio?

Yes, everything I know I learned in the printworks with my father. I tried and tried again until I had mastered the technique completely. At the time there were already schools but I went into the studio, that's how it started.

I tried and tried again until I had mastered the technique completely. At the time there were already schools but I went into the studio, that's how it started.

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For one year I also held a post at the Polytechnic in the faculty of Design : I taught "Manual skill", but I had to give it up as there weren't enough people enrolled on my course.

What kind of relationship do you have with the new technologies?

I always work experimenting with new forms of engraving, but I really do think that the importance of this art form lies in the strength of the artistry created on the sheet which is then transferred to paper. Nowadays artists are fascinated by video, Internet and new technologies: I can understand it because that is the medium used today. But artists can also end up concentrating too much on the medium and not the message, and in the end it doesn't say anything. I have come across artists that only worked with digital techniques; then they would come into the atelier and engrave on a sheet and I wouldn't be able to get rid of them, it was as though they had become children again. A good artist must manage to master the technique, not be mastered by it.

In a globablised society, what are the prospects for the maîtres d'art?

The global market is a very advantageous one, not least because Italy has never had a great following for collecting prints: we work more with the US or with France and Germany. In any case I do the same things, the main problem is the lack of taste. Nowadays people are no longer guided by taste, they always look at the same things and make the market flat.
In the '60s and '70s there were many foreign collectors and the market was lively; nowadays if I want to publish my own editions I have to risk it on my own back: I am preparing a book now with a young printworks which is very talented: there will be its engravings and poetry in Cyrillic by Oleg Prihodko.

How, on the other hand, do you view the role of institutions in managing, promoting and protecting the métiers d'art?

Well my entire archive is stored in Mendrisio, at the university of Italian Switzerland, in the twentieth-century archive. I have also had a personal exhibition at the national institute for graphics in Rome and, a few weeks ago, they came to make a documentary about me for RAINEWS. Luckily they remember me now and then, but help always comes for the exhibition and never the creation. Let's just say the State doesn't help you where you need help most.
For one year I also held a post at the Polytechnic in the faculty of Design : I taught "Manual skill", but I had to give it up as there weren't enough people enrolled on my course.

What are your links with the area and context in which you work?

There is no real link as such with Milan, in that I could do my work in Rome, New York or anywhere else. Wherever I would go though I would have my machines and equipment sent on to me. Only then would I really feel at home.

Do you have any assistants? What view do these young people have of your profession?

I don't have many assistants, because I do not want to open a factory. They come, they stay in the studio for a few months and then I encourage them to take off and work on their own, to run risks. They come from all over the world: Mexico, Korea, Germany and even Italy.