Graphic Art as a Profession
The development of graphic art, on a worldwide scale, has undergone a lot of changes. By the end of the 19th century, the method that was initially used to reproduce paintings had become an independent category of art. The time from the middle to the end of the 20th century saw the flourishing of fine graphic art, which was based on printing techniques. The last quarter of the century witnessed a digital revolution, which, in turn, totally changed the nature of graphic art. The last decade has witnessed a revival in traditional graphics techniques; and graphic art has increasingly moved from galleries and museums to the street and other public spaces. Along with printers and printing presses, many simple and convenient reproduction methods are being utilised that allow for rapid approaches to current events, social and political issues, as well as for new aesthetic discoveries.
Department Mentality and Philosophy
In graphic studies, the principle applies that technical approaches, without a sustainable idea, do not result in a valuable work of art. Understanding the importance of an idea is the precondition for initiating the artistic process. First we ask “Why?” and thereafter, “How?”
Collaboration between like-minded departments of the Academy, as well as “outside institutions”, is of primary importance. We try to realise our larger projects as exhibitions, not only in art galleries, but also in other public spaces.
The Chair of Graphic Art considers it important to introduce both traditional stamp graphic techniques – intaglio, letterpress and lithography, as well as silk-screen printing and digital printing methods. And, of course, the synthesis of all the aforementioned methods.
Since it is assumed that the students will use the skills they acquire for creative work, the ideas that find expression through these skills are just as important as the skills themselves. Graphic art moves in two, often quite intertwined, directions – fine graphic art and book design; the latter deals primarily with illustrations and artists’ books.
What are studies like?
- The modules. The modules comprise one third of each semester’s volume of specialised subjects, and are characterised by clearly defined content.
- Technique studies. In the graphic art workshops, the following techniques are taught: letterpress techniques (linocut, woodcut and plywood woodcut), intaglio techniques (etching, drypoint, mezzotint, etc.), lithography, and silk-screen printing. Printing can be done on laser and inkjet printers. It is also possible to produce your own book, or other publication, using historical movable type.
- Computer studies. In the graphic art department, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign graphic programs are used and taught.
For more about the curriculum and class schedule
Graphic Art at the Estonian Academy of Arts
Graphic art is one of the oldest specialities at the Estonian Academy of Arts, dating back to the applied graphic courses that were taught at the State Industrial Art School in the first half of the 20th century. Estonia’s internationally renowned graphic artist, Eduard Wiiralt, was among the well-known students from that period. The State Industrial Art School introduced the speciality of applied graphics to art education.
During the period of the pre-war Republic of Estonia, Günther Reindorff played a very important role. After World War II, and the elimination of the Pallas Art School as the result of Stalinist art policies, all graphic studies were concentrated in the State Art Institute of the Estonian S.S.R. Until the restoration of the Republic of Estonia in the mid-1990s, the study of applied and fine graphic arts, as well as photography, were combined in the department of graphic arts.
After the Republic of Estonia regained its independence in the 1990s, separate photography and graphic design programmes were established at the Academy of Arts. Today, the focus of the Department of Graphic Art is determined by its affiliation with the Faculty of Fine Arts. Here, artists are educated who are expected to actively participate in the art scene. During the last few years, the narrative graphics direction has also been strengthened, with the addition of various courses introducing illustration, comics and other text-related graphic art fields.
The majority of Estonia’s top graphic artists in the last half century have been students of the graphic art department. The work that has been accomplished has moulded the face of Estonian graphic art and its international reputation, and has resulted in numerous awards being earned around the world.
Lately, graphic art students and recent graduates have also been successfully participating in the international art scene. Deserving mention are the prizes earned by Martinus Daane Klemet, at the 14th Tallinn Print Triennial and Oliver Laas at the 15th Triennial.
The Chair of Graphic Art is headed by Professor Urmas Viik, with Eve Kask as Associate Professor; both of them have been active for years in the Estonian and international art scene.