Graphic Studio Minnigh

A creative hub with room for experiment

In Rotterdam West, near the old Delfshaven, you will find the multi-company building on the water, the Kroon. Formerly an electrical company, it now houses a completely different type of business: music studios, workshops and even an unusual looking campsite. Since 2019, there has also been a relative newcomer with a long history: Grafisch Atelier Minnigh. With the Goethe Institut Rotterdam, CBK Rotterdam uses the workplace through the annual graphic artist-in-residence from Dresden. Andreas Kempe would have been in full swing at this point had it not been for the coronavirus to interfere with plans. A new date for his residence is being sought. What remains is a beautiful workplace with a thousand and one possibilities for artists who want to do something with graphics. Sandra Smets wrote about it.

"We said goodbye to our studio in the Van der Sluysstraat," says Esther Schoonhoven, one of the nine artists who run this place. “But this is a creative hub, with a lot of space, where we want to find interaction with the environment. We focus on visual artists and on designers who are not necessarily graphic artists but who want to try the techniques once. If you want to experiment with etching or riso or lithography, there must be an address in Rotterdam where you can knock. We offer that. Every Tuesday evening and Thursday morning there is an open walk-in and you can work and print designs here for 8,50 euros. We also offer strip cards for this, six times for 45 euros, and with an annual subscription for 60 euros per month you always have free access to the studio. ”

It was about eight years ago that Schoonhoven was having a drink where people were interested in coming to work in such a studio. It resulted in five key holders, one of whom is always present to help visitors. “We are not interested in becoming a second SKVR giving courses, but we do have the technical knowledge of how to etch a picture or work a stone and we want to pass that on. Whoever comes should do it themselves, but is always helped by an artist. ”

The studio was established as a foundation in 2012 after the death of the Rotterdam graphic artist Joost Minnigh, an old hand from another generation. He left behind two large etching and lithography machines, the format that you cannot afford as an artist. Minnigh has just experienced the closure of graphics departments here and there, because concept development was considered more important, shortly before craft would experience a comeback. Meanwhile, a new generation of artists is interested in the graphic possibilities, such as riso and screen printing - a riso printing press has been added to Minnigh's machines. The hard pruning pigments of riso are particularly appealing, Schoonhoven notes: “They are sometimes fluorescent. Moreover, young artists love the unpredictability in riso and screen printing: something happens there that you cannot control with your head or with a computer. There's something adventurous about it, you can't strive for perfection. It can produce strange combinations, such as Warhol who gave a flower completely different color combinations because the screen printing technique brought it on that path. ”

Adventurous printing techniques with uncertain results are a completely different approach than the reproduction side for which printing techniques are known. Minnigh himself was working at a time when those changes were going to take place. When he left the academy in 1967, he worked a concrete pourer in the harbor and was broken at night, but still continued with his art. At home he made etching plates and printed them at ARA, an artist cooperative in South. The purchase of his own etching press meant a flight for his work, he told Trouw in 1983. He wanted to master the craft, which led to subtle urban panoramas, subways and construction pits with unfathomable depths. Combinations of light and dark, velvety and transparent, dead and alive, with graphics he could express what does not work with a pencil and paint. This is how he portrayed the city that inspired him, and where his legacy now does something in return.

Schoonhoven sees that people find the available techniques interesting for very different reasons. “Annelies de Greef, for example, makes lithographs with us, because she thinks a drawing printed on stone is much more sparkling than one of chalk or charcoal on paper. Martijn te Winkel uses the slow process of graphics, because in that slowness things happen that you don't expect before. I myself am a draftsman and I do not find it interesting to print an image twenty times, but I do think that you can collage prints into a new image. There you can use the repetition of printing in a completely different way. Mickey Murphy makes monotypes. She prints ink by drawing on the non-inked reverse side of an ink-rolled sheet of paper, creating diffuse drawings. You notice with visitors that the combination of craft with current themes can yield very free images. ”

Now in the Kroon, Graphic Studio Minnigh wants to build a community with artists and makers in the city. It has started a friend action: for 100 euros you become a friend and you will receive two graphic works, including Wilco Lamberts' legoprent 'Everything will be fine' - printed with Lego bricks, that is also possible. There is an exchange with Dresden via the Goethe Institut and CBK Rotterdam, so that artists can make use of each other's facilities and network. Their last guest, Birgit Schuh, they learned to risk print. And for artists closer to home, they offer a low-threshold print café every month, says Schoonhoven: “On a Tuesday evening we will present a certain technique, tell you what it means and print at the end of the evening. Sometimes designers come back afterwards to make an etching, for example. Now because of the corona crisis, we have to look at how we start up again, after the summer I think. Fortunately, it is a large space, there were never 20 people per night. And who already wants to come to work, there is room for that. You are not on a machine with two people, so that can all be planned. ”

The printing café will reboot after the summer and then it will also open a screen printing department - all of that will be on the website in due course. In the meantime, makers or artists who want to enrich their visual language with graphic techniques are more than welcome to walk in and try out a machine. Schoonhoven: “That's the kind of people we're looking for. People who are experienced but who want to try new techniques, and then take them back to the studio. That is the community we want to build here. ”

Publication date: 02 / 06 / 2020