Saturday, 4 February 2017

BIOGRAPHY: Elsa Catelin

Elsa Catelin was born in Coutances, France on 20 November 1975. She grew up sorrounded by the artistic activities of both her parents who dabbled in wood sculpting and music. From a verly early age, Elsa loved to draw and design things. It was her favourite pastime whenever she got bored.

With her local school in Cotances not offering any artistic coruses, she first studied literature. She then studied Fine Art at the University of Upper Brittany where she graduated in 1997. During this course she became acquainted with a fellow pyupil who had beenm to the Ecole estienne. Her passion stirred and with boundless enthusiasm she subsequently went to the Ecole Estienne. During her years there, Elsa was taught many art forms but it was engraving which attracted her most.

After graduating with honours in the year 2000, Elsa took up a number of jobs in the field of engraving until she sent an open job application letter to the French state printers in 2003. A few months later she was asked for an interview, when the printers were looking for a new engraver. Elsa became employed by the printers in January 2004 and during the following two years was taught the art of engraving by Claude Jumelet and Jacky Larrivière.

A perfect way to learn the art of stamp engraving was to translate non-recessed stamp designs into engravings, which would be used for philatelic documents and special sheetlets called gravures. Elsa's first one was the 2004 French 'Anniversaire' greetings stamp. Two more engravings for philatelic documents followed that year, for the Ouistreham Lighthouse stamp and the Seasons Greetings issue. In 2005, Elsa engraved the Sicile stamp from the Art series for the philatelic documents, again based on a non-recessed stamp.

Elsa's first engraving for Monaco also dates from 2004, when she engraved the non-postal label with the monogram of Princess Grace of the miniature sheet issued to mark her 75th birth anniversary.

In 2006, Elsa engraved her first stamp for France: a stamp depicting Thionville, as part of the annual Tourism series. The stamp was also available as a monochrome 'gravure'. A large number of stamps have since followed. In particular, that of Villeneuve sur Lot, issued in 2010, is worth mentioning because of the superb quality of the engraving of the reflection in the water. Elsa’s masterpiece of 2012, the organ at Lunéville’s church of St Jacques is among her most celebrated work, with not just the stamps, but the whole sheet being engraved.

In 2013, only six years after having started engraving French stamps, Elsa was given the honour to engrave the new Marianne, a controversial design by the Ciappa & Kawena design duo. Elsa engraved two dies for this series. The first one is the standard version with children playing in the bottom right corner. It is used for the stamps with denominations and the stamps with permanent validity. The second die is for the green rates and includes a tree in the bottom right corner. As an extra green detail, Marianne's hair is brightened up with leaves.

There is also a version with an @ in the bottom right corner, which is an on line stamp which will be printed if you pay for your postage on line. This would normally therefore not be a recess-printed stamp, but you may find a recess-printed version on the Marianne miniature sheet, which also has an engraved and recess-printed postmark-like first day illustration. Then there's the ecopli rate stamp which has its background filled in.

The Marianne design sometimes gets used on commemorative stamps as well, and the first stamp to include the Marianne et la Jeunesse design was a stamp marking the Paris stamp show of November 2013. It is the green version but now used as a normally denominated stamp.

Elsa has said that her inspiration for her work lies both in the classics and the more modern art scene. She loves the work of the masters of old, such as Dürer and Vermeer, but is also fascinated by what digital art can accomplish. In her work, she enjoys the tension of how the traditional art form of hand engraving can bre preserved in an ever more digital printing process.

You will find Elsa Catelin's database HERE.

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