Mario Ferreri at the International Comic Strip Festival

Like every year, Solliès-Ville (France) will be hosting the International Comic Strip Festival on 25, 26 and 27 August 2017. Famous illustrators like Art Spiegelmann, Tardi, Bilal, Berberian, etc… will be taking part in this highly regarded festival.

For the occasion, Mario Ferreri, lithographer and Maître Artisan d’Art, will be moving his workshop and working with the renowned illustrators attending the fair, printing original lithographs on ARCHES® paper (Velin d’ARCHES® and Velin BFK Rives® 250 g/m²)

ARCHES® is a partner of this event, through its distributor Antalis.

Mario Ferreri discovered lithography at the age of 16 years thanks to his older brother who was already a lithographer. Artists working on stone, lithographers on the presses, the colours, the smells and the sheer atmosphere of it all appealed immediately.

For 10 years he worked in several Parisian workshops, learning and perfecting the techniques and secrets of the trade. In 1985, he opened his own studio, Aloys Litho, in Arcueil near Paris and worked with numerous artists such as: Baboulène, Carzou, Dali, Fontanarosa, Matisse, Valadié, Voss, Weisbuch and many others… Many artists live on the Côte d’Azur and they would encourage him to open a new studio in Fréjus in 2002.

In 2004, Claude Draeger, heir of a family that had been printers since 1830 called him back to Paris to offer him a fantastic challenge: a reprint of Matisse’s Jazz album originally published in 1947.

Then, again for the Draeger family’s Editions Anthèse, Jane Kallar, the Egon Schiele specialist, wanted to bring together the series of erotic pictures produced by the Austrian Expressionist genius, who died at the age of 28, in partnership with the Albertina Museum in Vienna. An enterprise that met with the same success as Jazz. Both editions became Art Book if the Year, in 2005 and 2008 respectively.

He has also produced books on Cocteau, Toulouse-Lautrec, Daumier and his friend Valadié, the sculptor and illustrator. So many works, published as very limited editions and which have all been resounding successes.

Mario Ferreri works the old school way, with his hand press dating back to 1850. His art books can be found in private collections and museums in Paris, Tokyo, New York, Vienna… His studio has been awarded the Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant label (Living Heritage Company).

Passing on his know-how is a great pleasure for Mario Ferreri, a huge source of satisfaction and the culmination of the goals that he has set himself as a lithographer.

The art of lithography involves seven essential steps:

  • The choice of the stone: A good quality stone must be free of marks and veins and be able to hold moisture. The stone is chosen according to the artist’s work.

  • Graining: This consists of grinding the stone to give it a very smooth surface like very fine glass paper. First two stones of equal hardness are chosen. The first is covered with water and sand and then the second one is placed on top. The top stone is moved over the other in repetitive movements in figures of eight until the grains of sands are completely crushed – this is known as a “pass”.

  • Drawing: The tools used to make the drawing are quite simple: a pen, scrapers, toothbrushes, pencils and lithographic ink, blades for cutting and a broad paintbrush to brush the stone.

  • Preparation: This involves an etch solution made of gum arabic and nitric acid. It is used to fix the image into the stone ready to withstand the repeated pressure and clean the areas with no drawing of any impurities. It transforms the surface of the stone so that the drawing accepts the printing ink and repels the water and so that the parts without the drawing accept the water and repel the ink.

  • Printing: This requires a great deal of experience and precision. Blocking the stone, adjusting the pressure, moving the carriage, choosing the scraper bar, choosing the roller and inking.

  • Checking and cleaning: This step consists of checking the prints one by one after final printing and drying. It is necessary to be careful, patient and exacting.

  • Signing and “silking” the final edition and effacing the stones: This is the final step. With a greasy crayon the artist numbers each lithograph in the bottom left corner and signs it the bottom right corner. Then the print is covered with a sheet of silk to protect the drawing. And finally, the stone is destroyed, or rather its drawn surface is effaced. The stone simply needs to be regrained so that it can be reused by another artist.