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INTERVIEW WITH VINICIO MAIS


It is not uncommon for our new customers to come and have a coffee with us and to visit our company remain enchanted by the photographs that cover the walls: photos of sketches and prototypes, legendary cars and historic brands. On the part of the interested parties such lively curiosity is manifested regarding this or that prestigious collaboration and Vinicio Mais, founder of Pubbli Mais, always tries to answer the questions of the interested parties and sometimes to provide some nice anecdotes. In order to share these moments with as many people as possible, we have therefore thought of summarizing the main questions we are asked and of simulating a possible interview. Interview that we hope will satisfy the lively curiosity of our current and future customers as well as of all those who love everything that smells of History ...

The interview was written and published on this site in 2017. At the end of the interview, at the bottom of the page, we also added further details and anecdotes.

Vinicio Mais fondatore della Pubblimais di Torino specializzata nella grafica delle vetture da rally abarth lancia fiat
Vinicio Mais

 

QUESTION: Good morning, Vinicio, how was the idea of opening a company like PubbliMais, which deals with graphics and advertising, born?

 

VINICIO MAIS: Good morning. Let's start from the beginning. First of all, with sardinian pride I like to remember that I was born in Carbonia in the province of Cagliari. My father, an accountant in Cagliari as a civilian at the army, considering that the family was quite numerous (as many as five children) asked to be transferred to the continent (N.T. Sardinia is an island) with the doubt of the choice between the city of Rome or Turin.  When I was about 14 years old, the transfer was granted and the choice fell on Turin, an industrial city with Fiat and a very charming outline represented by the Basilica of Superga, the river Po, Valentino park, the white mountains and above all the Grande Torino football team ( my father was also a referee of the italian C series and could not resist the idea of being so close to the Filadelfia field trodden by those unbeatable champions who made the history of football). My father was hired as an accountant at the Turin Arma Application School in Via Arsenale 22 in front of the old RAI TV and I, my three sisters and my brother, found ourselves living our youth in the Regio Parco area of the Piedmontese capital.

 


Vinicio, who came to Turin at a very young age and grew up in the Regio Parco area.

 

D: At what age did you notice that you were particularly gifted in drawing?

 

VM: From a very young age I showed precocious skills for free-hand drawing but at the end of my work-start school I was still uncertain whether to continue studying or looking for a job. One day I realized I didn't have the money to buy a small camping tent and go to the beach with friends in Albisola Marina (N.T. Italian seaside); so I consulted the announcements of  newspaper "Stampa Sera" and I found one that said: "Craft company I.P.A.I. looks for good guys in design for advertising inscriptions on vehicles". The owners of the I.P.A.I company were called Alberto MININNI and Pierino CASETTA and had the laboratory in the Santa Rita area in Via Mombarcaro 92 in Turin. I introduced myself, I was taken in evidence and after only two months I managed to buy myself a mini tent and take my vacation with my friends! Among my colleagues were Michele MININNI, Alberto's nephew, and DE GREGORIO, whom we will discuss later because they will play an important role.

 

 


Vinicio apprentice at the age of 16
Vinicio apprentice at the age of 16

D: How long did you have to wait before starting to work "seriously"?

 

VM: Very little, upon returning from vacation, I was hired by I.P.A.I., I started my apprenticeship and at the same time attended a state evening graphic school in Via San Francesco da Paola in Turin.  There it was possible to study History of Art, create tempera sketches and make pencil copies of still lifes and live models.

 


Vinicio during his military service at the military corps of the "Alpini".
Vinicio during his military service at the military corps of the "Alpini".

D: And then?

 

VM: And then ... I worked at this firm uninterruptedly until 1961 when they called me for military service. Among other things, during the draft I did not completely renounce my passion for painting, in fact at the "Beltricco" barracks in Dronero (CN) I painted the coat of arms in bas-relief of the Alpine troops and various friezes and capitals by hand.

 

D: In an era without machines and printers where the typology of work was typically manual how important was it to know how to paint well by hand?

 

VM: It was certainly a decisive aspect that always made the difference. The graphics, trademarks, coats of arms and characters were always hand-drawn on the drawing board and the contours of the drawings on normal or glossy drawing paper were always hand-pierced with the same procedure used by Michelangelo in the Renaissance, that is the use of a stick with a needle in tip we called snack. On these perforated drawings called dusting, a piece of talcum-filled wrapping was beaten, passing through the holes and determining the contours to be painted with a series of appropriate flat and round brushes.

 


D: What memory do you have of your teachers and more generally of that period?

 

VM: In a time when very few companies were able to perform manual and artistic works, the few "masters" jealously preserved their art and knowledge. There was no other alternative, partly because of the lack of specialized schools and academies, which observed them with curiosity and attention and "stole" their trade. I was lucky enough to be able to work alongside Michele Mininni, with whom I worked with Abarth at a young age in works of great difficulty and precision. Michele was recognized at the time as a great professional, very skilled with both the brush and the drawing of the graphics and the cutting with the scalpel.

It might also be noted that it was an obligatory choice for us apprentices to buy the various types of brushes at their own expense: the latter in fact reached an optimal state to paint with skill only after many years of continuous use and therefore became fundamental and very precious.

 


D: What a charm the era of the brush! And how long did it last?

 

VM: It went on a little longer. The I.P.A.I. abandoned the brush almost unexpectedly to invent a tinfoil carving method (applied to the cars) by means of a scalpel that made it possible to create masks with spray painting with considerable savings of time and with surprising results in terms of detail accuracy and color uniformity. The discovery of this process that later the competition copied us coincided in the mid-1950s with the beginning of the collaboration with the famous ABARTH, a turin company located in Corso Marche 38 founded by a young technician engineer of the prestigious CISITALIA named Carlo Abarth, Austrian-born Italian who became very popular in the world of engines and racing.

 


D: Abarth, how many memories related to the rally and the world of racing!

 

VM: Yes, at a very young age I found myself working as an apprentice in Abarth together with De Gregorio who in 1958 broke away from IPAI, assumed the aforementioned Michele Mininni as his main collaborator and founded his own company which, thanks to the very close collaboration with Abarth became well known in the world of engines. The name of this company was PUBBLI AUTO.

 


D: And Pubbli Mais? How does it fit into this topic?

 

VM: I opened my company PUBBLI MAIS in 1967 but already even if I already made the liveries of different rally cars, from Lancia Fulvia to Stratos to Fiat cars since the early 1960s. Of some of these I was the first ever to paint the liveries, for example I remember Fiat 131 MS livery, Fiat 131 Olio Fiat and Fiat Ritmo Olio Fiat Giugiaro livery, and others ...

I must underline how the real turning point for my career occurred in 1984 when Pubbli Auto suddenly closed its doors. This fact represented for Abarth executives and workers in the sector a hard not to crack, they were all in great agitation because they were in the midst of the production of the cars that had to race and the paint decorations of the liveries could be made only by those who owned the secrets of craftsmanship of the time as well as the manual skills necessary for those jobs of very high difficulty. I was thus urgently contacted by Abarth to undertake a much more continuous relationship for the development in particular of the Martini Racing liveries of the cars which shortly thereafter began to collect all the series of amazing victories and records at the world rally championships until the year the withdrawal from competitions of the Lancia occurred in 1993.

Somehow we can say that I found myself collecting the heritage of the Public Auto, using the same methodologies and secrets learned many years before at the "school" of our common great masters, Casetta and Alberto Mininni and having in the meantime hired my dependencies my mentor of youth Michele Mininni, who agreed to join my team in order to continue operating in an equally stimulating and full of prospects environment.

Among the cars of this period we mention the first absolute Martini livery executions of Lancia ECV and Lancia ECV2, Lancia Delta S4, Lancia Delta 4WD, Lancia Delta Integrale, Lancia Delta Integrale 16v '89 (with the famous checkered livery , the only car in history to run on a red base), Lancia Delta Integrale 16v '90.

 

Still today we keep a very wide availability of material such as drawings, dustings, templates and exclusive photographic material that allows us to satisfy the demanding requests of hundreds of amateurs and collectors from all over the world who require graphics faithful to the official cars of golden era of rally.

 


Our advertising aired in the 80s on the Videogruppo and Telemontecarlo italian channels.

Curiously, the address and telephone number have not changed since then.

 

D: Abarth, PubbliMais and Rally ... who knows how many other interesting things come to mind if you think back to that period!

 

VM: Many, too many to mention. Recall that the Fiat at the turn of the 1970 took over both Lancia and Abarth, therefore since then in addition to the rally cars numerous cars were designed and produced for track racing. For example, the honor of making the first Lancia LC2 enlarged with the new Martini graphic signed "PUBBLI MAIS TORINO", and other specimens preserved in important collections such as that of FCA HERITAGE (link1) and exhibited by prestigious foreign collectors for very popular international events such as the festival at the GOODWOOD circuit in England (link2).

The collaboration with NITRO & C. was historic, with which we often compared the graphic material in our possession to best satisfy the many requests of the Abarth.

 

A particular thought goes to GIORGIO ROSSOTTO, an ingenious and gifted interior designer of the Abarth with which I made some of the most important graphics in the history of the Rally and the races on the Track. He used to give me his characteristic drawings reproducing the graphic drafts made by hand colored with the felt-tip pen, the only reference I had to trace the lines and create the actual graphics in paint. 

 


D: Any further particular or curious anecdote for fans?

 

VM: I remember among the curious things that for a time, when I was working as a boy at IPAI, I always went with one of the owners to perform various writings and brands of paint at the Abarth headquarters in Corso Marche. Thanks to my precision and attention to detail I had entered the graces of Carlo Abarth, who wanted to take me often to his private office where a basket of beautiful apples of various types and colors always stood out. Carlo encouraged me to eat as many as I wanted, specifying that they were good for health, prevented many diseases and that in doing so I would live healthy and long. It was his way of thanking me for the work done and still today that I am 75 I enjoy excellent health and vitality and I have not lost the habit of eating 3-4 a day!

 

I still remember that Carlo often kept me from working after closing time and I tried in every way to find excuses. The exchange of beats sounded like this:

I: "It's late, I should go get my mom's medicine!" 

Carl: "Bene, dare a me ricetta, io mandare a comprare medicine!" (untranslatable Italian language spoken by Carl with strong Germana accent, without articles and with all predicative verbs without conjugation N.d.T.)

Io: "Thanks, but I also have to pick up my girlfriend who is waiting!"

Carl: "No problema, tu dare a me indirizzo e io mandare ragazza a prendere. Lei aspettare seduta comoda su divano e tu finire prima i lavori" (idem).


The Abarth factory in Corso Marche in Turin and the owner, the legendary Carlo Abarth (original images taken from these links: photo 1 and photo 2).

La fabbrica dell' Abarth in Corso Marche a Torino e il titolare, il leggendario Carlo Abarth (immagini originali tratte da questi link: foto 1 e foto 2).

Vinicio at the beginning of Pubbli Mais in the internal courtyard of the company ..
Vinicio at the beginning of Pubbli Mais in the internal courtyard of the company ..

D: Let's go back to your personal career. 1967, we are finally in the days of the foundation of Pubbli Mais.

 

VM: The founding act of the individual firm PUBBLI MAIS DI MAIS VINICIO dates back exactly to April 5, 1967. The firm was built in an ancient noble road, Strada Vicinale della Pronda which, then as today, was delimited at the entrance of the alley by a large arch or masonry portal. The road originally led to a farmhouse owned by a renowned family, then the same road was broken in two by the passage of the railway and experienced many aesthetic changes due to the opening (and closing) of new activities and the construction of some buildings. Since 1967 our company is among the few things that have remained unchanged and still present.

 

D: La Pubblimais non significa solo ed esclusivamente rally..... 

 

VM: No anzi ! La mole di lavoro una volta era davvero imponente. Tutte le più importante aziende e i marchi più conosciuti facevano a gara per venire da noi a decorare in vernice i loro veicoli. Tra le più grandi marche automobilistiche e di veicoli industriali bisogna citare Fiat e Viberti e tra le note aziende dell' epoca vanno assolutamente ricordate RAI, Panna Elena, Casa dei Cappelletti, Tortellini Rana, Godino Giocattoli, Caffè Costadoro, Galup, Loacker, Latte Abit e tante altre. Sono sicuro di averne dimenticate tantissime... (link)

Particolarmente pregiate erano anche tutte le esecuzioni miste pennello e vernice per le più importanti marche di birra (Foster's, Bulldog, Beck's, Guinness) sia sulle insegne in legno dei pub di Torino sia sui veicoli che venivano completamente decorati. 

 

The old advertising Fiat 600 of the company.
The old advertising Fiat 600 of the company.
Michele Mininni and Vinicio celebrate 30 years of activity.
Michele Mininni and Vinicio celebrate 30 years of activity.

D: We arrive at the beginning of the 90s and the advent of new technologies such as computers, printers, plotters, laminators: how was addressed by Pubbli Mais the strong change that involved your business and the whole working world?

 

VM: There was no great choice, on the other hand the whole world in the early 90s was modernizing, as today everyone is digitizing.

We had to equip ourselves with computers and graphics programs, I personally remember that I made a lot of resistance to abandon the old traditional working methodologies because I was fond of them and because they gave the possibility to bring out the talent and the individual ability. With the spread of new machinery among graphic companies, the flattening of these individual values is an undeniable fact, but it is also to be recognized that in recent years with new technologies it is possible to perform extraordinarily precise and accurate processes.

There is a little less poetry and creativity than before and individual skills have been almost nullified but it has gained in speed, organization and precision.

 


D: Specifically, what equipment does Pubblimais have today?

 

VM: We currently have various graphic stations, plotters, laminators and modern printing technologies that allow us to reproduce on advertising vehicles, signs and banners, any type of brand or photographic image with a strong visual impact and excellent durability thanks to inks. special and anti-UV hot lamination (Ultraviolet). We are also able to carry out processes with the screen printing process.

 


 

D: Have you ever thought, as a joke, to calculate how many cars PubbliMais has created the graphics from its origins to the present day?

 

VM: Assuming a minimum average of about 2-3 vehicles per day, it is not an exaggeration to think that PubbliMais has so far made something like 15,000 - 20,000 advertising vehicles.

 

 


D: Of all these works, there will be some to which he has remained most attached, either for the prestige of the clients, or for the exceptional workmanship ...

 

VM: If I try to count the most important works, and surely I will forget some of them, I cannot fail to mention the completely brushed graphics executed on the car CISITALIA by Carlo Abarth and then owned by Count Zanon (link). Then the historic ITALA car with original "Parigi Pechino" written in brush and the OSELLA Formula One car (the driver was E.Cheever) which received in America the prize as "Most beautiful car of Formula One" (link). And again, the varnished execution of the black-blue fillets that characterized all the cars in the fleet of lawyer Gianni Agnelli and Dr. Umberto Agnelli and the MARTINI graphics executed entirely in varnish at the Viareggio shipyards on the group yacht AZIMUT who participated in the attempt to Cross the Atlantic without refueling with an illustrious passenger on board such as the billionaire Rockefeller (link). For this last work I received the compliments and written thanks of the spouses Rossi di Montelera commissioners of the work.

 

Another collaboration to mention, which began in 1975, was that linked to Raids from around the world organized by the magazine Gente Motori, by the journalist Gianni Marin and by Lancia. The raids lasted many years and I studied special graphics specifically for these cars depending on the continent and the countries they would visit, from Mexico to Egypt, from Latin America to Alaska (link).

Finally, it is impossible not to mention the long collaboration with the Designer GIORGETTO GIUGIARO, for which I made the supply of the stickers of all the prototypes of his cars and works, which reached its climax with the supply of stickers reproducing the TORINO 2006 Candidate City logo, to be used for the world preview presentation of the Logo to the Press (link).

 

 

 


D: Tell us about a principle or a value that through your career as an artisan has always remained alive and inspiring, and which has also passed on to your son Roberto, who since 2010 has inherited the leadership of the company.

 

VM: I have tried to transfer all my experience and knowledge to ROBERTO, and there is no greater joy for a father than to see that the efforts have been rewarded. Fortunately, my son is gifted with the right flair, good taste and excellent computer skills that allow him to brilliantly meet the needs of most of the varied clientele, from large companies to private collectors of rallies from all over the world from Europe to America to Japan. Just recently, PubbliMais has reconstructed the graphics of one of 4 existing examples of the Lancia LC1 car in the possession of Dallara, one of the largest companies in the world specialized in the design and production of racing cars and also, again for Dallara, has created the complete graphics of the Lancia Beta Montecarlo Turbo Le Mans / Brands Hatch livery. Both cars, Lc1 and Beta Montecarlo, are hosted all year round in the Dallara Academy spaces in order to be viewed by the public (link).

Here, if we really want we can identify some common lines within the history of PubbliMais in the commitment and courage to always maintain the quality of the service and the materials used without ever giving in to temptation, in a period of full-blown labor crisis and of the economy, of transforming ourselves into a printing house or copy shop that derive their profits from quantity rather than excellence. But also values such as courtesy, the familiar and friendly atmosphere, seriousness, and the punctuality of delivery of the supplies are strong points of our team which for a year has also benefited from the contribution of my other son Luca who has brought a new business organization and Mattia, a young and promising graphic designer.


Top left, late 90s, Roberto Mais at his beginnings as a collaborator in the internal courtyard of the PubbliMais; above right Vinicio and Roberto Mais, father and son, together a few years later. Bottom left, Roberto and Alberto standing with the Alfa Romeo 155; in the lower right Mattia performs a retouch under Vinicio's attentive eyes.

 

D: In 2007, PubbliMais was awarded the "Premio per la Fedeltà al Lavoro e per il Progresso Economico" by the City of Turin.

 

 VM: Exactly, and receiving the prize directly from the hands of the Mayor Sergio Chiamparino and Alessandro Barberis was really rewarding (link). The chilegina on the cake of a life dedicated to work that has always been a passion.

chiamparino sindaco premia mais vinicio a torino

Vinicio Mais left, at the award ceremony for the awarding of the Prize awarded by the Turin Chamber of Commerce. Sergio Chiamparino in the center, Alessandro Barberis on the right.

 



 

NdR : INTERVIEW WITH MAIS VINICIO was prepared and published on this page in 2017. For all updates and the latest news on the activity of Pubbli Mais led by Mais Roberto you can consult our BLOG and our SOCIAL FACEBOOK, ISTAGRAM and YOUTUBE. Total or partial reproduction of the interview on other websites and blogs is allowed provided the link of the page and the source are mentioned.

 


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