Professor Frank Baseman as Artist/Designer/Printer-in-Residence at Tipoteca Italiana Fondazione


During June of 2022 Professor Frank Baseman was very fortunate to be able to do an Artist/Designer/Printer-in-Residency at the fabulous and magnificent typography and printing museum, in Cornuda, Italy. Needless to say, this was an amazing experience and opportunity, as the type collection at Tipoteca alone is vast, beautiful, wonderfully cared for (most of the type is in mint condition)—and very, very special. Riffing off of the Artist/Designer/Printer-in-Residency he had done two summers ago at Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum, he had a sense of what he was in for. Still this experience was nothing if not unique.


As usual and can be understood, Baseman started by trying to get the big picture sense of the typographic landscape. Fortunately (and very wisely), Tipoteca had photographed each case (or drawer of type) in the collection, so his first steps were to look through many, many, many photos of type to just start to narrow down to the ones he might be interested in using. And since he had come all this way, Baseman wasn’t interested in anything he could see or use back home (no “French Clarendons” for him here), and nothing too generic or plain (no plain Jane, anonymous Gothics or Grotesques). It wasn’t difficult at all to narrow down to a reasonable list of typefaces so that he could then go to the “stacks” and peruse the type in person. Baseman scribbled quick notes in his small notebook, and he was good to go.

One early decision was to print large, at 50 x 70 centimeters, which is almost twice the size that Baseman is normally used to printing back home (13 x 20 inches is his “normal” format). He decided to print large because A.) he had the opportunity to; B.) it would be a bit out of his comfort zone, and a key part of these “printcations” is to try new things.

Once Baseman pulled some type, images, ornaments, decorative rules and border treatments, he proofed the type on tracing paper. That way he could do good old-fashioned cut ‘n paste layouts of the prints he might be interested in executing. Baseman was familiar with working this way from very early in his career, “way back in the day.”

In the end Baseman made four “Love Notes” to Tipoteca that he entitled Tipoteca Amore, numbers 1–4. His personal homage to this amazing institution. Baseman donated half of the print run to Tipoteca for them to sell to raise funds to help to support the museum, and he hopes to get an opportunity to come back and visit again. Ciao Tipoteca!

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