Book Binding

An Artisan’s view
Paolo Olbi, Artisan Bookbinder

Paolo Olbi’s artisanal journey is an inspirational one. Born in the centre of Venice, Olbi has always worked here mastering his skill in this city of artisans. Having started out binding books for friends in Venice, Olbi developed his skill, growing his business over time, and firmly setting himself on a trajectory to work for the great Venetian Libraries and beyond. Olbi chooses to sell his work only in person at his boutique in Venice, believing it can only be properly viewed and appreciated in its true home.

An Artisan’s view

Paolo Olbi, Artisan Bookbinder

As an artisan, what is the most satisfying part of your craft?

The truly satisfying aspect of my job is that I never get tired of doing what I do. It is always a pleasure to come to work, because I chose a profession that I enjoy.

My father’s dream was for me to have a normal job, which would have been a nightmare for me as I prefer a life in which I am able to express myself in my own particular way. Working in an office would have been impossible for me, due to this desire to create.

Why is craftsmanship important in today’s world?

Artisan craftsmanship is important because we set in motion ideas that otherwise would not see the light of day. Artists create work, like paintings for example, which can be shared and appreciated at home or with friends. We artisans have the power to put an object, something beautiful, something artistic, in the hands of those who will hopefully enjoy using it for many years to come. This is the idea.

What advice would you give to a young artisan?

My advice would be to follow their aspirations, without fear, and above all to learn to be modest. My colleagues are always learning and practising things outside of my expertise. I am interested in everything related to my field, from carpentry to mechanics, because the cross-pollination of ideas can take craft to a whole new level. For instance, even though books are made of paper, cardboard and leather, we have incorporated glass and marble in our work, which is a world away from the original. If you have imagination and skill, combine the discovery of new materials with your curiosity.

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