My exposure to and familiarity with bookbinding did not happen very long ago. I majored in art history at UBA (Universidad de Buenos Aires), and I had always worked in the plastic arts. It was at the end of 2011 that, encouraged by a friend, I enrolled in an intensive course that art bookbinder Sol Rébora was giving in her studio. It was there that I discovered a world that I had absolutely known nothing about, that of artistic bookbinding. This combination of “savoir faire” of the profession, and the artistic design, captured me completely. Since then, I have devoted myself to my professional development: taking whatever course I could, attending all through 2012 the classes taught by Sol, and attending the regular workshops of Eduardo Tarrico as well. And then planning what was, for me, the most relevant experience I had in relation to my professional growth: my trip to Paris.
I lived in Paris for all of 2013, where I had gone to study with those I consider two of the best bookbinders living today: Ana Ruiz Larrea and François Brindeau. For almost a whole year I regularly attended Ana’s atelier, at first twice a week, and then three or more times. Then, during the Paris summer, I had the good fortune to receive an intensive apprenticeship: three weeks, all day every day, with François. This was a luxury that, even today, I cannot believe I had . From his hands and in Paris, where I attended whatever art bookbinding exhibits I could, I finally understood what this world was about, and I was able to visualize how I would like to work in the future. These two people are my two great role models today; for Ana and François I have only words of gratitude.
After I returned to Argentina in 2014, I opened my own studio in Palermo, Buenos Aires in less than three months; it was set up as a place suitable to give classes. That same year I won Second Prize in the Second International Art Bookbinding Competition organized by EARA (Encuadernadores Artesanales de la República Argentina). Since then I have dedicated my life to this profession: to continuing to refine my talent and to teach, aware of the fact that I still have a lot to learn in the future. This is what I like best: knowing that there is so much more ahead.
-Sofía Mendizabál (translated by Diana Schoolman)