Fabrizio TravisanuttoThe winner of Artigiano del Cuore contest, 1st edition
Fabrizio Travisanutto is the winner of the Artigiano del Cuore (Artisan of the Heart) contest for the Arredare e Decorare (Furnishing and Decorating) section. A Master Mosaic artist since 2003, he is now running his father’s business as well as creating wonderful artworks for prestigious customers worldwide.
Congratulations on your winning! How did you experience the “Artisan of the Heart” contest?
With great curiosity and enthusiasm. That was the first time I was so overtly involved; I generally avoid showing my work to a large audience. I would like to thank all the people who have spent a few moments to express their sympathy with us.
When was your business established? What encouraged you to carry forward its tradition?
My father, Giovanni Travisanutto, studied and worked as a mosaic artist in Spilimbergo until, in 1971, he was offered an opportunity to work in New York City, US. After working very successfully for ten years, he decided to come back to Friuli and open a workshop, and for years we never stopped, even one day, creating thousands of artistic mosaics in every corner of the world.
My father wanted me to become a lawyer, but, after attending the Liceo Classico, I chose to carry forward his trade. In fact, I have never seen him bored, or tired; he always looked satisfied, always happy to go to work. No doubt, he was, and is, my role model to this day.
What was decisive for your firm’s success?
It may sound rather obvious, but choosing the best quality was crucial for our success and it always paid off, in the end. We never tried to run after trends, even when low-quality products flooded the markets and became, in fact, trendy. Besides, we never attempted to hire unskilled workers to save money. Quite the opposite, we are trying to motivate our collaborators, even raising their salaries following our business success. Once our estimate is accepted, we just aim at delivering an overall perfectly manufactured mosaic. It will remain as a testimonial of our work for hundreds and hundreds of years, way beyond any financial aspect.
Another secret? It may seem obvious today, but a perfect mastery of the English language proved vital in exchanges with customers worldwide.
What makes your works so unique? Is there one you are particularly attached to?
Our mosaics are always born out of an artist’s models, which makes them all unique and unrepeatable. I cherish personal memories about each piece, connected to the people I met during the works.
I am very fond of the mosaics we created for the Monumento al Redentore on Monte Guglielmo, overhanging Lake Iseo, near Brescia. The concept was due to my very dear friend Cesare Giovanelli, the founder of the eponymous Bottega Incisioni, who was able to pass on to me his enthusiasm, his strength of mind and his love for art. I would also like to mention the amazing work we made for Knock Shrine, in Ireland: a 200 square meter mosaic based on a sketch by artist P. J. Linch, a deeply humane person. When we inaugurated this work, the local people came to me and hugged me, overcome by emotion. In that moment I felt sincere gratitude, and great affection, an emotion I can sense even now, at the mere thought of it.
Is there a story or a funny anecdote you remember from your career?
There are a lot of them. Some cannot be told, like the evenings I spent with the Irish people, others are about my personal emotions.
Once, artist Xenobia Bailey submitted a crochet work instead of traditional paper sketches. We worked hard to accurately reproduce her idea on mosaic and created one of the most beautiful mosaic works in New York’s underground. Recently, for the decoration of Washington’s National Sanctuary, I saw a Chinese worker being lowered from the top of the Dome, and taking laser measurements. That was an incredible, definitely weird adventure.
And so many others in the past. When I found out that the famous portrait painter Jack Beak was keen on motor races, I took him to Monza, for the F1 Grand Prix. A few weeks ago, instead, I escorted New York’s artist Joyce Kozloff on a mountain walk in the middle of nature and it was beautiful to witness her emotions in front of the Dolomites.
Let’s go back to Spilimbergo. What’s your relationship with your territory and with the community you live in? In what ways does it influence your work ?
Spilimbergo boasts a century-old tradition in mosaic. The Scuola Mosaicisti del Friuli (Friuli Mosaic School) has been in existence for nearly one hundred years and is the reason why myself and my business exist. My father taught there for 18 years and I attended it after high school. All my collaborators went through it, which means a lot.
I love my territory, I’m trying to protect its identity as far as I can and I’d love to make it known worldwide through my work. If we want to ensure our survival for the future, we need to defend our tradition more and more.
What is your main passion apart from the bottega?
I have several passions: mountaining first. I am writing from Croatia now; as I completed a beautiful work, I took one day off to climb a mountain facing the Dalmatian Archipelago, with a breathtaking view of all the islands.
I love cuisine: my partner Martina and I enjoy cooking unusual dishes; I find it a creative, relaxing task.
When I was a child, I was mad about motor races, and I passed this passion on to my only son, Lorenzo. He is now 18 and is travelling around the world as a professional karting pilot; I believe these experiences will help him with his life, whatever he will do, mosaic included.
What would you suggest to a 15-year-old boy who wants to become a mosaic artist?
Dear 15-year-old boy, have the humility to learn the trade and don’t rush: it takes years, not days. The better you are, the better your skills will be rewarded. Don’t run after quick profits, keep your mind focused on your highest goal, earnings will come in anyway. Find a bottega and an artisan willing to teach you, so you can learn more. Learn all the techniques and the styles – it is vital to become one of the few excellent craftsmen and stand out in the middle of mediocrity.
Finally, my wish for you is that this country, whose art and crafts are precious jewels, may resume protecting those who, like you, want to continue a time-hallowed tradition.