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All about Risograph Printing リソグラフ

The Risograph is a copier made in Japan by the Riso Kagaku Corporation.  Pronounciation guide: リソグラフ (ree-so graph)

The Risograph is an automated mimeograph released in Japan way back in 1986. It was designed mainly for high-speed, high-volume photocopying and printing in an office environment. When printing multiples (generally more than 20) of the same image, it is typically far less expensive per page than a conventional photocopier, laser printer, or inkjet printer. For schools, clubs, and other short-run print jobs, the Risograph bridges the gap between a standard photocopier (which is cheaper up to about 50 copies) and using a commercial printer (cheaper over about 10,000 copies).

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20 Likes, 1 Comments - Dundee Print Collective (@dundeeprintcollective) on Instagram: "@kieran_plastik printing @dcadundee print studio for Riso Soup's next project #risosoup #riso..."

It is also better for the environment than regular digital printers or photocopiers. The machine itself is energy efficient, and uses recycled, uncoated paper. It also only prints with soy-based ink, which is better than toner in appearance, and does not require the extra process of setting the ink with heat, as photocopiers do with toner.

rose blake

rose blake

It looks like a bulky photocopier, but inside it has a silkscreen mesh that is uses to print, along with stencils made from a roll of banana paper. It uses spot colours in a limited palette of vibrant inks. The finish of the print is similar to both lithography and silkscreen, with results that are sometimes unpredictable. Oh, and it prints FAST!

So, How can I use this process as an artist? Spot colour means that each colour is printed separately, and layered to create new colours. This can be used to great advantage to create beautiful effects. I love how 2-3 colours can be blended together to recreate hand painted tones, or how the semi-opaque quality of the inks can lends itself to very clean layers. There is a limited palette, sure, but sometimes working with restrictions helps you to make something you wouldn't have thought of normally. It forces you to learn to work with what you have. Anyway, there are beautiful florescent colours, a metallic gold, and plenty of subtle greens, reds and blues to work with. Keep in mind, though, that not many places will have the full range of colours available (they are hard to come by, and you would need a very large storage area!).

Ashley Ronning

Ashley Ronning

Cost is also something to consider. If you're only going to print 5 copies of something, Risograph may not be the best value for money. The more copies you print from one stencil, the more cost efficient it is. It is designed to print 50-2000+ copies at a time. Great for posters, zines and booklets. You can print on different colours and textures of paper, too! Because it uses uncoated paper, this opens up a whole world of options. This book was printed on a coloured paper stock, which can change the perceived colour of the ink quite a lot.

Esther McManus

Esther McManus

Tali Bayer

Tali Bayer

Overall, as with all printmaking processes, it has its own quirks and benefits. I personally love making riso prints! I've been working with lots of local artists recently on a Dundee Print Collective project called Riso Soup, and it's been a rewarding challenge to really experiment and play with Risograph Printing. I'll make a separate post about that, as this post is getting pretty long. But it's been fun blogging more regularly! I'll be back soon.

Like the idea? Do you want to make something with this process? I am a trained riso tech, so I can try to answer any questions you might want to ask. :)

Geli Monoprinting and Paper Drypoint prints

I have been making quick geli monoprints and paper drypoint intaglio prints. Both really quick, messy and fun ways to approach printmaking.

Geli Printing is a cool new way to monoprint, using a wobbly gelatin plate and either water or oil based inks. You can build up the surface using rollers, textured stamps, brushes, or if you're like me probably just your fingers. What's really cool about it is it keeps a ghost image on the surface that you can play with, gradually building up layers before printing a final image. For my ones, I kept it simple. I used a brush, cloth and fingers to get the soft, almost lithography-like marks, and paper stencils to block out the white shapes. The final two images show what can be achieved with the ghosting.

portal (Small)
portal (Small)
fireball (Small)
fireball (Small)
moon (Small)
moon (Small)
moon refelection (Small)
moon refelection (Small)

The other day I made some quick new paper drypoints, too. Quick and easy. Might print some nicer ones from the plates at some point...

wing (Small)
wing (Small)
sun 2 (Small)
sun 2 (Small)
orb 2 (Small)
orb 2 (Small)

Working on Editions for Thomson and Craighead

One of the new pieces of equipment the DCA print studio acquired recently is the CNC router. I would absolutely love to create a woodcut piece with it... going to have to think about that one a bit, though. You can cut some really precise, large scale stuff with it, and it has interchangeable cutting tools for both fine and rougher work. Artist duo Thomson and Craighead are getting their work for Never Odd or Even, their first survey exhibition in the UK at the Carroll/Fletcher Gallery in London. The woodblock pieces I have printed are part of the London Wall project, where local tweets are chosen and made into artwork. They have already been selling very well, I hear, which is fantastic news. Here are some pictures on the process...

cnc router for Thompson and Craighead

 

I alsolutely love to use that style of press- it's so old and still works perfectly. Here is the only 'finished' shot I could find:

The other one that I printed was black and said 'Don't blow my high'. You can see the block being prepared in one of the previous pictures. This project was really fun and rewarding to complete, and I really enjoyed it. More on relief printing soon! :)

 

Edit: I just realized that the pieces I printed are available to buy at the Carroll/Fletcher online shop, too.

Working on Editions for The Yes Men

The DCA Print Studio are producing editions of work for The Yes Men, a duo of artists whose work is very political in content, focusing on social issues- 'telling the truth and exposing lies'. They have quite a wide practice, but some of their work involves film making and large- scale hoaxes. They say that the hoaxes (such as posing as powerful executives, being invited to speak at conferences, then talking about weird stuff) are a collaboration with the media, helping journalists to tell the stories that they care about. So excited to be involved in their work, to however small an extent. These pieces are all CMYK screen prints, and there are quite a lot! I have worked on a few so far, to varying degrees.

WP_000536

WP_000583

WP_000602

The solid red background in the second one was tricky to get perfect, and helped give me great triceps! :P I am planning a 'how to...' series of blog posts, and I am going to start with screen printing, so I can both practice explaining it and introduce non- screen printers to the process at the same time! :) At some point I will also upload some of my new screenprinted work. Until then!