Cafe Interview with Paul Lantuch
June 2nd, 2008 was a lucky day for The Engraver's Cafe. That was the day Paul Lantuch joined our forum and showed us examples of his engraving mastery. As you can see, Paul is an artist extraordinaire, and appears to be equally comfortable with pencil or graver. We are fortunate to have Paul with us, so please give him a big round of applause!
Thanks for taking the time to do a Cafe interview, Paul. / ~Sam
::: Engraving :::
Q. What's your name?
A. Paul (Paulius) Lantuch
Q. Where are you from?
A. Vilnius, Lithuania, for the last 28 years resident of Connecticut.
Q. How long have you been engraving?
A. Since 1964-5, but it was linoleum and woodblock prints, later copper engraving, not an engraved objects.
Q. What made you want to become an engraver?
A. Printmaking was always a main interest, jewelry came later as a stable sours of earning. The first gun came soon after arriving to US, prior to this it was no guns in my life. Bill Ruger, Sr. asked me to do a test work on Red Label, I did it and got a job for eleven years till the closing the Southport facility. Than another three years ( 2003- 2006) as a head of short live Engraving Studio.
Q. Are you a hobbyist or professional engraver?
A. Full time professional.
Q. How did you learn engraving?
A.By the way of experiments and mistakes.
Q. What was your biggest obstacle when you first started?
A. Absence of tools and information in former Soviet Union.
Q. Are you a hammer & chisel and/or push engraver, or do you use
pneumatic tools, or a combination of hand and power?
A. Hammer- chisel and push strictly.
Q. What are your favorite books pertaining to engraving?
A. Mario Abbiatico " Modern Firearm Engravings", Larry Wilson books, especially "The Steel Canvas".
Q. Of the old engraving masters, whose work is among your favorite?
A. In prints Albrecht Durer, Hendrick Goltzius and many others, in guns Nicolas Boutet, Gustave Young.
Q. What's the worst engraving mistake you ever made, and how did you fix it?
A. Misspelling , but I do not want even mentioned it.
Q. What are the majority of your engraving jobs (guns, jewelry, etc)?
A. Guns and jewelry, proportions are various in different time.
Q. What type of magnification do you use (microscope, Optivisor, etc)?
A. Binocular microscope for 32 years.
Q. What part of engraving do you find the most challenging or difficult?
A. To choose a concept.
Q. What part of an engraving job do you dislike the most, and why?
A. All parts suppose to be respected equally.
Q. What's your favorite part of an engraving job, and why?
A. The final touch.
Q. Do you like or dislike lettering, and why?
A. My favorite, it was a part of study at Institute of Art.
Q. What kinds of engraving do you refuse to do?
A. Fake and kitsch.
Q. How do you rate the quality of engraving done today as opposed to
50 or 100 years ago?
A. It is a annormous differences between 50 and 100 years ago - ruins in the middle of XX century and splendid cultural sunset before WWI.
We are fascinated by the heritage of the past, trying to preserve it in our works, keep it alive.
Q. Do you perceive any part of hand engraving as a dying art?
A. Not at all, it's coming back as a counterweight to the ciber-civilization and mass culture. We have a lot of electrical tools today, but it is our mind which is responsible to the art we are doing, not matter, which toys are involved in the process. I personally prefer less technical marvels between me and an object.
Q. What country or countries impress you with their highly skilled engravers?
A. First of all - Italy, than Great Britain and Belgium.
Q. What affect has the internet had on your hand engraving?
A. No effect on engraving itself, but it helps with the marketing and contacts. It is difficult to imagine today life without computer and internet. Exchange of information and communication between people is amazing in comparison to the not far past.
Q. What advice would you give to someone who wants to learn engraving?
A. To study art first, than to try to engrave.
::: Personal :::
Q. How many children do you have?
A. One daughter.
Q. What's the occupation of your wife/husband?
A. Zena is in books conservation at Yale Bainecke Library.
Q. If you have traveled, what was the most exciting country you
visited and what did you enjoy most?
A. ITALY. Past and present. Saturation of art and essence of life.
Q. Do you have an interesting experience while traveling that you'd
like to share?
A. Feeling, that I has been in Florence long ago.
Q. What's the most interesting experience you had when meeting people?
A. Learning something new.
Q. Besides engraving, what are your hobbies and interests?
A. Photography, collecting art.
Q. Where is your favorite place to be?
A. Florence , Italy.
Q. What's one thing of which you are most proud?
A. To be a free USA citizen.
Q. When you were a child, who was your hero?
A. Engineer Cyrus Harding from Jules Verne book " The Mysterious Island". A man, who can make everything from nothing and survive in most desperate situation.
Q. Where were you on September 11, 2001?
A. Inlaying the steel bracelet, when my daughter called from Manhattan, her apartment then was not far from Twins.
Q. Do you have any pet peeves?
A. Arrogant ignorance and dishonesty.
Q. What is your favorite thing to do in your home town?
A. Go to the museums, concerts, hiking outside the town. It is quite intensive cultural life around Yale University.
Q. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be?
A. With Gioacchino Rossini in his restaurant.
Q. What one person was most influential in your life?
A. My professor Vladas Drema, the Renaissance man.
Q. Who (living or deceased) would you most liked to have met?
Q. Describe what you would think of as a perfect day.
A. Finished, well payed beautiful project.
Q. Tell us a good short, clean joke.
A. The letter from asylum:
" Dear Mom, the life here is wonderful, they had build a swimming pool for us, so we are enjoying jumping and swimming, every one has a favorite stile. Good doctors had promise to feel it with water if we'll behave ..."
Q. Is there anything else you'd like to say to the folks reading this?
A. My motto: ARS AURO PRIOR. ( Art has priority over Gold).
Wonderful work! Thank you for taking the time to share a little of yourself with us.
I was hoping this would happen. Thanks Sam and Paul!
It isn't your job as a leader to make others follow you, it is to be worth following.
Bravo Paul. Thank you for sharing some of your life with us.
What a wonderfully gifted artist.
Thank you for sharing this with us, Paul.
Best, John B.
Very Inspirational words of wisdom.
Thanks Sam for that interview, what a gifted artist, love the prints, anyone would think they were by Durer.
don't know if you have ever been to Biltmore in N.C. they have a great collection of Durer prints.
Thank you all!
I'm glad to find you, Keepers of great and noble Art of Engraving.
I think it is a second oldest profession after hunting.
When the First Artist had scratched a likeness of the mammoth on the bone, it was stolen by the First Tiff and given to the First Cave Lady for some favors. The Artist has been supplied with a fresh bone, contained more or less meet on it. The story is repeating itself with different variations, dresses and decorations till now.
And here we are, in the Engraver's Cafe.
Just because we can't do anything else.
And we are happy in the way God created us!
Wow what an interesting, and talented artist. Hope to meet you one day.
Thanks Sam it's always nice to know a little bit about the person behind the tools.
As always, great information and beautiful work.