Cafe interview with Ritchi Maier
With the help of Imtiaz (Cafe member ferlach), we present another interview with a world class master hand engraver. As you will see from the attached photos, Ritchi Maier has an uncanny ability to capture fantastic realism in both engraving and scrimshaw. He's even written a book on the subject Scrimshaw-Gravur by Ritchard Maier which is available on Amazon.com Ferlach, Austria has produced some fabulous engravers, and Ritchi Maier is certainly one of them. He's an artist extraordinaire who thinks outside the box when it comes to layout and design, and the results are remarkable indeed. Please give a big round of applause and a warm Cafe welcome to Ritchi Maier!
Q. What's your name?
A. Richard Maier, better known as "Ritchi" Maier of Trompeter & Ritchi
Q. Where are you from?
A. I am from Austria. My company is located close to Stuttgart Germany
Q. How long have you been engraving?
A. I started to engrave in 1980. This was my first year at the HTBL, an engraving school in Ferlach, Austria.
Q. What made you want to become an engraver?
A. Since I was a child, I was drawing and painting. Early in my youth, I realized that I wanted to do something in life that had something to do with art, so I went to the engraving school close to my home town in Austria, where I was born.
Q. Are you a hobbyist or professional engraver?
A. They say I am professional ;-)
Q. How did you learn engraving?
A. At the beginning of engraving school, I was not that good in doing engravings.
My teacher told my parents that it would be better if I would change my vocation and maybe get a job working for the post service or as a waiter in a restaurant. Those comments were the defining moments of my life because after that, I worked so hard that by my last year, I graduated at the top of my class.
Q. What was your biggest obstacle when you first started?
A. To cut the tools.
Q. Are you a hammer & chisel and/or push engraver, or do you use pneumatic tools, or a combination of hand and power?
A. I am a traditional hammer and chisel engraver like we learned in school. For the last 32 years I have been engraving with conventional tools. In the last 3 Years, I have sometimes used the pneumatic tools.
If I do a relief engraving, it makes things a little bit easier. But I think, first of all, it is important if someone knows how to use the traditional tools. They could give the best equipment to "somebody" but if someone does not know what to do, it will not help much. It is the spirit of being creative that I think is most important.
Q. What are your favorite books pertaining to engraving?
A. My own book about how to do scrimshaw. ;-)
Q. Of the old engraving masters, whose work is among your favorite?
A. At the beginning of my career I liked the Italian Engravers and was impressed with Pedretti. I also like the works of German Engravers Manfred Fleischer, Gerhard Rausch, and Fritz Oberndorfer.
Q. What's the worst engraving mistake you ever made, and how did you fix it?
A. Once there was some text to engrave and I got a wrong translation of a word.
I polished the text away. It was done on fossilized mammoth ivory.
This happened just one time in my career up until now.
Q. What are the majority of your engraving jobs (guns, jewelry, etc)?
A. Art scrimahaw and luxury hunting guns.
Q. What type of magnification do you use (microscope, Optivisor, etc)?
A. I use some Zeiss microscopes and all the typical traditional engraver tools.
Q. What part of engraving do you find the most challenging or difficult?
A. Inlays, because I don’t do it a lot. I am more specialized in other techniques.
Q. What part of an engraving job do you dislike the most, and why?
A. Letters. For me, they are boring to do..
Q. What's your favorite part of an engraving job, and why?
A. Scrimshaw. There is a good flow of energy in doing scrimshaw.
Q. Do you like or dislike lettering, and why?
A. Dislike. No soul, no spirit..
Q. What kinds of engraving do you refuse to do?
A. Lettering ;-)
Q. How do you rate the quality of engraving done today as opposed to 50 or 100 years ago?
A. Hard to tell. Every century has its own charm and quality in engraving. Engravers 100 years ago did not have the technical equipment like today and did a brilliant job.
For me, it’s important that, in a hundred years, when people look at my work, they can tell that this is the unique engraving style of Ritchi Maier. Means, if you look at cars on the street, the design is changing every time. I never was interested to "copy" some traditional engraving style or copy some other engravings.
Q. Do you perceive any part of hand engraving as a dying art?
A. Sometimes I tell people at shows or in magazine interviews that engravers are like "the last unique horns". We must take care of them and promote the art of engraving otherwise they will die out.
There is a big change in doing engravings with new perspectives, new techniques, and new possibilities. The only problem is that some people don’t see it.
Q. What country or countries impress you with their highly skilled engravers?
Q. What affect has the internet had on your hand engraving?
A. I could not give some answers to you, without internet ;-)
It’s important to get information and to give information through the internet.
Q. What advice would you give to someone who wants to learn engraving?
A. Sometimes I tell students that they should ask themselves if they really would like to became a engraver. And if they are not 100% sure but only 99%, they should change their career objectives. It is NOT easy in the first years of engraving. It needs ALL the passion, power and emotion right from the beginning. To became a "real" engraver means, for me, to live the passion of engraving your whole life. That’s one of the secrets to becoming successful.
Q. How many children do you have?
Q. What's the occupation of your wife/husband?
A. She is a graphic designer
Q. If you have traveled, what was the most exciting country you visited and what did you enjoy most?
A. Africa. I like the "soul of Africa" and the wildlife. Of course I liked the USA very much because I met very gentle people there. Very open minded. My children are talking every day of our trip that we did together to the USA. I like the multi cultural mix of people there.
Q. Do you have an interesting experience while traveling that you'd like to share?
A. I have been very close to Leopards and Lions in Tanzania and Zimbabwe. This was amazing. Once I went on a 4000 meters high mountain in Kirgizstan, riding on a horse. There was this big thunderstorm that started within minutes. There was thunder, lightning, rain and snow and me and the horses were in the middle of nowhere. I witnessed the power of nature. Nature that creates life and nature that can take it away. The never ending circle of life.
Q. What's the most interesting experience you had when meeting people?
A. There were so may experiences there would not be enough time or space to cover them all in this interview. ;-)
Meeting people is a chance to learn from each other. To learn from each other is a chance to live in peace with each other.
This should not mean that we could change the world"' but WE are the world and if WE learn every day to change the things in ourselves, then the world is on its way to become better.
Q. Besides engraving, what are your hobbies and interests?
A. Wildlife, art, traveling, talking about star wars with my son, photography, and many other things that I don’t have enough time to do..
Q. Where is your favorite place to be?
A. My favorite place is everywhere where the "heart and soul"
Q. What’s one thing of which you are most proud?
A. My children
Q. When you were a child, who was your hero?
A. I had no special hero.
Q. Tell us something few people know about you.
A. I don’t know, I have to ask them what they know. ;-)
Q. Where were you on September 11, 2001?
A. In a department store close to Stuttgart. I was very shocked and I was thinking of the people there..
Q. Do you have any pet peeves?
A. Not really.
Q. What is your favorite thing to do in your home town?
A. Jogging and meeting people
Q. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be?
A. With someone that would have dinner with me too ;-)
Q. What one person was most influential in your life?
A. I have some old friends that are influential. One of them is Mr. Trompeter, the co founder of my company.
Q. Who (living or deceased) would you most liked to have met?
A. I have not thought about this much but I think there are a lot of people, if you start thinking about this.. Maybe the great American philosopher Prentice Mulford or Helene Grimauld, who plays the classical piano and owns her own wolf pack..
Q. Describe what you would think of as a perfect day.
A. I could write something that would sound good about a perfect day but the only thing I can say is that I try to make a perfect day every day.
Q. Tell us a good short, clean joke.
A. The good jokes in German language are hard to translate but I might know many "unclean" jokes.
Q. Is there anything else you'd like to say to the folks reading this?
A: It was a pleasure for me to answer these questions.
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Another great interview and another chance to get to know another outstanding engraver and artist...my heart felt thanks to both of you!
(The Other Sam)
Guns, Guitars and Old Cars
Cravingravin=a chronic malady that afflicts some of the world's nicest people...TOS
Beautiful work - it really comes alive. Thanks for sharing.
Great work and interview. Thanks for posting it up.
Terrific interview. Enjoy getting incite into the work behind the engraver. The photo realism of the works are phenomenal. Thanks to both for the interview and sharing of work. Fred
Want to learn to engrave, "cut an inch a Day every Day" Jim Small
Awesome work and a great interview. Thanks!!
Thank you Ritchi for the interview. I have admired your work for several years. I was first made aware of you through our mutual friend Deiter Kaminski. Your work is outstanding. Best wishes.
Thank you Sam and Ritchi. Ritchi, your work is incredible!!!
Thanks for posting it Sam.
With all the best.