Donald Farnsworth Biography

Donald Farnsworth




Donald Farnsworth, printmaker, papermaker, paper historian, inventor, and teacher, was born in Palo Alto, California on June 18, 1952. He studied chemistry at Laney College in Oakland and printmaking at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1974, Farnsworth earned his BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and, in 1977, he earned his MA in printmaking from the University of California at Berkeley.

In 1973, Farnsworth began making paper and he is an internationally known master printmaker and papermaker, and an authority on the history and manufacture of handmade paper. In 1981, he co-founded Magnolia Editions in the warehouse district of Oakland and is currently its director. Magnolia Editions has worked closely with artists to produce and publish fine art projects, including unique and editioned works on paper, artist books, tapestries, and public art. The studio includes facilities for etching/intaglio printing as well as digital printing onto substrates such as gessoed panel, glass, leather, plexiglas, aluminum, or raw linen.

After graduating from the San Francisco Art Institute, Farnsworth worked as a printer for at Editions Press in San Francisco in the mid to late 1970s. He soon found that there was a growing demand for handmade paper from artists: in the late 1970s, he created paper for editions including several by John Cage at Crown Point Press. During this period Farnsworth also made handmade paper for artists including Claes Oldenberg, Nathan Oliviera and Brice Marden; made paper pulp for sculptural casting by Manuel Neri and Bella Feldman; and worked on art production with Harold Paris and Karel Appel  Farnsworth and colleague Bob Serpa also taught inexpensive classes in forming and couching handmade paper at their Oakland, California studio

His teaching career began in 1975 when he was appointed Associate Professor at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. Since 1987, he has been a guest lecturer or guest Associate Professor at the Universities of California at Davis and Berkeley, the University of Hawaii at Honolulu, and San Francisco State University.

Farnsworth has received awards and grants from various organizations including the Graphic Arts Council, the World Print Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. His works have been included in numerous exhibitions internationally and are represented in the collections of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, Brooklyn Museum, Loyola University Museum of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University.