De Monsterkamer

Stefan Guzy from Zwölf about paper

What is your favorite paper and why?
I don’t favor a particular paper, but right now I am really impressed by the work of berlin-based master paper maker Gangolf Ulbricht, who is exercising beaufiful craftsmansship with his hand-made papers.

Could you give an example of a design you created where paper played a special or particularly functional role?
The right paper always plays an important role in our design process. Since we are also running a studio for bespoke hand-pulled screen prints, we experimentate a lot with different paper, hand- or machine-made. At the moment we a working on an artwork which we want to print on Zaansch Bord made by Arie Butterman at De Schoolmeester, the last remaing wind-powered paper mill in the Netherlands. The artwork is going to incorporate the material (rags) the paper is made of.

Beautiful handcrafted paper made by master papermaker Gangolf Ulbricht in Berlin, Germany, made out of flax, cotton and Saxonian hew.

How important is the choice of paper in your designs? Do you spend a lot of time choosing the paper?
I spend a lot of time doing research on paper mills and paper distributors and I am always happy to work with the few remaining paper makers who keep up the tradition of slowly-made paper. I recently bought some stock off The Frogmore Mill in England, where paper maker Gary Fuller is doing a great job on the world’s oldest mechanised paper mill.

Hand- and machine made paper by Gary Fuller at the Frogmore Paper Mill in Hemel, UK, using old denims, saw dust, pedals and flowers.

Is there something missing in the current range of available paper?
Yes! A lot! As poster artists we are missing the big formats (A0 and bigger). Since usually machine-made paper is distributed in sheet sizes of around 70×100 cms it is really hard to find affordable material for poster projects that need the extra size. We are still trying to track down what is available but it seems that we have to commission a custom-made paper in the future for our big posters. The shutdown of a lot of traditional paper mills and small paper merchants in the past decades it also very sad.

What is your biggest frustration in the field of paper?
As a printer who loves to print on the untrimmed full size sheets it’s always frustrating to see improper packed reams with torn edges and damaged sheets.

The language of flowers. Poster for an academic conference in Erfurt on flowers using real flower wrapping paper. The conference was hosted by Arbeitsgruppe Floriographie (Erfurt University/Free University Berlin).

Is it difficult or easy for designers in your country to find information on paper, paper samples and/or paper collections?
It’s not that hard to get sample collections of the big distribution companies here and the folks there are usually really helpful with delivering samplers and even full size sheets.

How do you see the future of paper?
I believe (and hope) that there will be a new generation of innovative paper makers who are going to set up small workshops and mills and keep up the tradition like we are doing here in Berlin with hand-pulled screen prints.

Interview by De Monsterkamer with Stefan Guzy from Zwölf