A Man of Superlatives
In addition to being a renowned photographer, designer and
graphic artist, Austrian Robert Sackl-Kahr Sagostin is also
passionate about printing. An award-winning perfectionist who
practices his art with meticulous care and loves to experiment, you
never know exactly whether his work is printing, art or both.
Mr. Sackl-Kahr Sagostin, you are much in demand as a
photographer and graphic artist. Your commissions include designing
postage stamps for the Moroccan royal family and your photographs
are on display in international galleries. What fascinates you
Sackl-Kahr Sagostin: Partly the interaction of art and
printing. The art of printing should produce an art print and be
viewed and conceived as printed art. My aim is to arouse enthusiasm
and curiosity. That's why I experiment a great deal with colors and
printing materials and try to make use of anything and everything
that has some connection to printing. For example, I also work with
glass, metal, stone and wood. I may print an invitation or graphic
on thin pieces of wood - with the help of a rubber roller - or cut
typographic elements from metal or wood.
How do your customers react?
Sackl-Kahr Sagostin: A lot of customers are looking for
something a little out of the ordinary. The important thing is to
select materials and processing methods that will make the end
customer identify with the product. If he does, he will be happy
for me to use top-quality and thus expensive materials and will
appreciate the work involved. It is extremely gratifying to find
companies with print products that I produced 25 years ago.
You work alone on many of your projects. Why is that?
Sackl-Kahr Sagostin: It means I'm in total control of
everything - from design and lithography to offset printing. I've
always been passionate about trying things out and the whole
conceptual design process, and this is very important to me. That's
also why I studied art in Italy. It enabled me to learn how to cast
lead letters, make paper by hand, blow glass and produce products
using letterpress and offset printing in the studios of masters. I
still rely on this grounding in craftsmanship to this very day. I
prefer to complete shorter runs of up to 500 copies using
traditional equipment such as an original cylinder press (56 x 77
cm) from Heidelberg. I do a lot of work by hand - such as making
printing blocks from magnesium, lead and brass engravings.
What produces top-class craftsmanship?
Sackl-Kahr Sagostin: Attention to detail and specialist
know-how - starting with the paper used. Whenever I can, I get this
from Büttenpapierfabrik Gmund in the Tegnersee region of
Germany because of the top-quality raw materials they use. When it
comes to color management, Wolfgang Croce from Mantscha, near Graz,
prepares a separate calibration for every single grammage, surface,
embossing and paper color. Thaler-Druck in Graz produces an
original proof with different types of paper and grammages for
every product. I use this company for all jobs with longer runs,
such as exclusive art books. It is extremely well equipped, with
two six-color and several five-color presses from Heidelberg. Most
of the printing is done using hybrid screening. Platen presses from
Heidelberg are used for finishing processes such as hot-gold or
blind embossing and hand platens for special jobs, using hand-made
paper for example.
Do the print shops need to have an understanding of art?
Sackl-Kahr Sagostin: It's essential, and older printers
are especially good in this respect. Unfortunately, many of these
career printers have now fallen victim to rationalization measures.
I am lucky to still be working with such experts at Thaler-Druck.
They know what works - how materials react with one another or the
best way to create specific effects, for example. My projects would
be impossible without this expertise, especially given that I
experiment a great deal. For example, I may try out screen, digital
or offset printing and often print in 16 colors with spot colors.
Despite this, there is hardly any paper waste.
How can print shops set themselves apart from the competition?
Sackl-Kahr Sagostin: Companies that are small enough to
maintain an overview and offer specialist expertise such as
high-quality craftsmanship will always stand out. There are a great
many customers looking for hand-made paper, top-class bookbinding
in quality materials, and invitations created using hot-metal
Print example 2+3
Invitation to the 2006 opening of the Eiffel Tower Restaurant
in Paris, including entrance ticket.
Paper: Vice Versa (Gmund) 300 gsm
Printing: 7-color + 2 coatings
Finishing: Hot and blind embossing
Invitation to the theater production King of the Brigands in
Marrakech (Morocco), for which Robert Sackl-Kahr Sagostin also
designed the stage set. Also pictured: a miniature sheet with the
stamps he designed.
Paper: Alezan Caméleon Cult (Gmund) 300gsm
Printing: 11-color + 3 coatings
Finishing: Hot and blind embossing