Venice: Artisan - Celebrity Printer Gianni Basso. Walking quickly down the Calle del Fumo (alley of smoke) to catch the vaporetto to Murano, my eye caught the window of Gianni Basso’s printing shop; it rested on the charming and old-fashioned Ex Libris and then on close inspection on the famous names printed on them, this tempted me to go inside, and explore. Inside, is like going back a century, the atmosphere is captivating. Around the small printing shop every available shelve and surface boasts samples of the beautiful cards and book plates Basso has hand printed for his illustrious celebrity clientele; actors, writers, royalty, composers, Noble Prize laureates, fashion designers, and the list goes on.
Gianni Basso Stampatore: 5306 Cannaregio, Venezia 30121 – tel: +39 041 523 4681.
Gianni Basso Stampatore. At the age of fifteen, Gianni Basso was trained in letterpress printing by the Armenian monks in Venice and today, thirty years on, he is passing on his trade to his son Stefano.
Gianni Basso Stampatore. The window showcases his illustrious clientele; Marisa Tomei's name is printed below theater masks, whilst Ben Affleck’s sports an old fashioned camera and Hugh Grant’s is under a Lione di San Marco. The selection of animal plates from 1800s are housed in drawers.
Gianni Basso Stampatore. In keeping with his ancient craft, Basso only communicates via letter or by an operating 1950's phone and jokes that his fax machine is “a carrier pigeon.” He doesn’t even do email or even accepts credit cards, you have to visit in person.
Gianni Basso Stampatore – A selection of Ex Libris
Gianni Basso Stampatore. In the very small shop, three of the six per-industrial printing presses. Some come from the monastery of the Armenian monks on the island of San Lazzaro, where Basso apprenticed. From 1717 until 1991 on the island the monks printed books of renowned accuracy and beauty.
Above. A detail of a Boston printing press as used by Benjamin Franklin.
Gianni Basso Stampatore. Antique 19th and 20th century cliches plates of engravings of Piazza San Marco.
Gianni Basso only uses Fabriano paper.