Hi, my name`s Riso. I`m here to help you!

Hi, my name`s Riso. I`m here to help you!
Risograph duplicator printers were invented by the Japanese
company Riso in the mid 1980s. They were designed to duplicate
fast and cheaply and have duly been embraced by church groups,
schools, community centres and political parties around the
world. But now, over 20 years since the printers first appeared, a
new type of user is emerging as graphic artists around the
world embrace the unique qualities of Riso printing
Hi, my name’s Riso.
I’m here to help you!
wo years ago, whilst
making the first of our
CRTV films (now
featured on the CR
iPad app), Hugh Frost
of Landfill Editions introduced us to
the ‘Risograph digital duplicator’
with which he was producing artist
books and zines as well as prints
from his studio in east London.
Frost explained how this mysterious
machine worked. “It kind of looks
like a photocopier but actually works
more like screenprinting,” he
explained. “You print one colour at a
time and reprint over the top to build
up colours. In the last few years it’s
become more popular with graphic
artists that love the flat colours it
produces. It’s got an aesthetic
similar to screenprinting but with
much less set up time.”
The photocopier-like Risograph
printers were first invented and
produced in the 1980s by Japanese
company Riso – the same company
that had given the creative community the Print Gocco 1977, a toy-like
desktop screenprinting device that is
How Riso works...
❑ It may look like any old
photocopier but the Riso
uses a unique process.
First, choose the colour you
want to print with from the
Riso range (currently
around 20 standard
colours) and install the
appropriate colour drum
in the machine.
Illustration by Jiro Bevis for Ditto Press
T
38
creative review ¦ october 2012
Left: This jolly Riso
illustration by Jiro Bevis
was commissioned by
London’s Ditto Press.
Above: London design
studio Two Times Elliot
use their Riso machine to
print a host of mailers and
other publications
❑ Next, upload the colour
separated artwork (or text)
you want to print. This can
be done either by using the
photocopy-style scanner on
the top of the machine or by
uploading a PDF direct.
sadly no longer made despite online
campaigns to save it.
In 1984 Riso launched the
Risograph 007, “a full-auto duplicator-printer with a built-in mastermaking mechanism”, which was the
first duplicator that didn’t require
any manual fooling about to load a
stencil onto a print cylinder. The
machine produced the master
(stencil) internally and applied it to
including a series of type
samplers (spreads from
their Adobe Caslon Pro
Specimen Booklet
designed by Max Wolf,
shown right). The studio
commissioned the above
photograph of a Riso
colour drum (as well as
the print drum. It was designed to
print in large volumes at high speed
with low running costs and be as easy
to use as a photocopier. However,
despite the fact that Risograph
printers have been around since the
80s, it’s only relatively recently that
the technology has been embraced
by the graphic art community.
“Over the last 20 years, churches,
schools, printers and political 2
p Using the rudimentary
interface on the machine,
set the details of the print
– size and orientation of the
paper etc. The Risograph
now creates a master
stencil from the uploaded
artwork by using a thermal
head which burns tiny 2
another that inspired our
cover image of Riso ink
tubes) and it also runs a
regular Riso night called
25x25 where attendees
pay £25 but get to print
25 copies of their own
artwork on a selection of
available Antalis papers
creative review ¦ october 2012
39
3 parties have been the biggest buyers
and users of Risograph printers,” says
Nigel Pane, proprietor of Apple Office
Supplies in Southampton, which is
one of the UK’s largest sellers of
Risograph machines, both new and
fully refurbished. “These new
art-based buyers and users of
Risograph printers have only really
materialised in the last two or three
years,” he says.
booming
And this Riso boom is by no means
limited to the UK. Groups devoted to
incorporating Riso into their practice
have sprung up all over the world from
Ditto Press in London, to Rizzeria in
Sydney and the Melbourne Risograph
Printers Guild, Chez Rosi in Brussells,
Risographique in Berlin, and
Barriobajero in Stockholm.
“Riso printing is definitely
booming,” maintains Charlie Hood,
manager of east London bookshop,
gallery and coffee shop, Beach
London. “About 90% of the publications and prints we sell at the moment
are Riso printed. In a way Riso is nicer
than screenprinting and up-andcoming artists find it a bit more
accessible. All you need is one, albeit
quite big, machine (compared to all the
stuff you need for screenprinting). It’s
got this sort of chemically, machined
look to it but it also retains a real
handmade quality. A lot of the time it’s
quite difficult to align the different
colour layers (compared to screenprinting) and it’s a little bit unpredictable in terms of results, which can yield
nice and unplanned effects.”
A Risograph printer creates a
master from PDF artwork (or by a
photocopy-style scanning process).
This image is then sent to a thermal
process uses spot colours, the closest
types of printing to it would be
screenprinting or litho. The Riso
provides a perfect middle ground
because I can do a run of ten to a few
thousand relatively easily. With litho
you have to commit to at least 500
copies of something before it becomes
cost effective or even affordable.”
print head which melts and thus
perforates the polyethylene (PE) layer
of a master film which consists of a PE
and hemp paper laminate. The master
is then transferred, PE side out to a
drum that contains the printing ink.
The ink is pulled up into the hemp layer
of the master and pressed through the
perforated PE in the moment a sheet of
paper passes over the rotating drum
which contains ink. The perforations
in the master allow ink to pass, thus
forming the image on the paper.
Each master can be used up to
around 8,000 times before wearing
out, and the drum can be changed
easily to load up a different colour.
There are currently around 20 colours
in the Riso soya-based colour ink
range although it is possible to have
your own bespoke colour made up as
long as you’re ordering around 20
colour tubes, according to Page. The
Lib Dems, apparently, have their own
‘Liberal Democrat Gold’.
“They’re quite sturdy machines,”
adds Page, “though they can go wrong
– they misfeed from time to time,
although it really depends on the
volume of work the machine is doing.
I’m far more likely to get a call from the
Lib Dems, who use their Riso machine
a lot for printing internal communications and their Focus magazines, to
service a Riso than I am from one of
the new breed of arty users.”
So what is it about Riso printing
that makes it an attractive print option
for graphic artists?
Well, they’re cheap and reliable,
as Elliott Denny of Victory Press
explains. “A Riso costs next to
nothing to run. Ink costs around £60
for two tubes with each one capable of
doing around 10,000 prints at 5%
coverage, so it really is properly cheap
to print stuff. I guess because the
of plastic. This master is
automatically transferred
to position on the outside of
the colour print drum.
subtle and dappled
Riso print also has a certain quality all
of its own, says Anna Fidalgo, one half
of design duo Crispin Finn who work
with London-based Ditto Press to
create various products which they
design and sell as part of their
practice. “A Riso print holds its
ground next to a screenprint,” she
says. “It achieves a subtle, dappled,
old printed quality that is sort of
reminiscent of old printed matchbooks. The colours often have a slight
transparency but also the finish is a
beautiful matt that sits somewhere
between ‘on’ and ‘in’ the paper.”
Tom Edwards cites another
reason he and fellow illustrators like
Riso: because unlike digital printing,
it’s not a particularly consistent
process, which means, he says, “that
every print or book is slightly different
which is always a good thing”.
“The machine isn’t at all perfect,”
explains Denny. “You do get mis-registering and it doesn’t always perfectly
print large areas of block colour, and if
there’s too much ink on the front edge
of the print, it might jam ... but for me
it’s an interesting process because of
these idiosyncrasies.”
Denny is also interested in using
his Riso printer beyond its stipulated
functionality. His printing of Edwards’
A3 format Riso book, Nine Tales,
caused much excitement among 2
Above, top: A detail of the
surface of one of the
pages of Tom Edwards'
Nine Tales A3 Riso-printed
book, published by South
London’s Victory Press.
Above: A selection of
Riso-printed prints and
publications by Victory
40
3 perforations into a sheet
creative review ¦ october 2012
Press. Left: Two spreads
from Two Times Elliott’s
Adobe Caslon Pro
Specimen Booklet
designed by Max Wolf
Above: Design and
illustration duo Crispin
Finn has collaborated with
Ditto Press to create a
number of commercial
products such as these
two colour Riso-printed
greeting cards. Right: Two
spreads from Two Times
❑ You’re almost ready to
go! Set the number of prints
you want to make, press the
print button and 'hey
presto', your Riso prints
start popping out of the
machine into the print tray.
It’s advisable to put the
prints into a drying rack for
an hour or so to let the ink
fully dry.
❑ If you’re printing more
than one colour, repeat the
process with the next
colour by replacing the
colour drum with your next
colour of choice, burning
the master for the next
layer and feeding the prints
through the machine
again. Repeat the steps
until you’ve printed all the
colours you want.
To see a Riso machine in
action, check out the CRTV
film we made with Order in
which Hugh Frost of Landfill
Editions explains how it
works: crmag.co.uk/c2LZ0z
Elliott’s Riso-printed
Knockout Specimen
Booklet, designed and
printed in-house in
collaboration with
Mariana Carvalho
creative review ¦ october 2012
41
3 Riso fans when it was released
earlier this year through Beach
London because of its size. Risos can
only take sheets up to A3 and yet
Edwards’ book looked as though it
must have been printed on A2 paper.
“If you fold paper, you can fool the
machine into thinking it’s taking A3,”
Denny says by way of explanation.
“Actually, you can do this all the way
up to A1,” he says. “You just can’t put
anything through that adds up to more
than 400gsm. As soon as I got my first
A4 Riso as a student for £70 on
Gumtree I worked out I could print A2
by folding the sheet in four. You can’t
print over the creases so you have to
design around them and I think all
that stuff is interesting. I’m also
interested in how I can combine Riso
printing with screenprinting and even
with using my old mimeograph to add
things that Riso can’t do like metallic
inks or spot varnishes.”
cheap and sophisticated
Quite why it’s taken the world of
graphic art 20-something years to
embrace the Risograph is a mystery,
but the combination of cheap running
costs, spot colour printing, and ever
more sophisticated machines being
brought out by Riso (some recent
models have two colour drums so can
print two colours in one pass) means
that more and more design studios and
illustration collectives are looking to
acquire one. A reconditioned second
hand machine from Page’s Apple
Office Supplies will cost between
£1,200 and £1,500 with a brand new
one costing around £3,000. Of course,
potential purchasers can do as Denny
did a couple of years ago and look for a
second hand bargain on a website such
as Gumtree or eBay. 1
Above: Cover and spreads
from Head Full of Snakes,
issue one. The Risoprinted magazine was a
collaboration between
Melbourne-based Stuart
Geddes and Christchurch
(New Zealand)-based
Luke Wood. “To begin with
42
creative review ¦ october 2012
I really loved the idiosyncratic nature of the [Riso]
process, the mis-registration and general
crappiness of it,” says
Geddes. “But as I’ve gone
along I fetishise the
printing style less and
appreciate more and more
that what’s best about it is
just that I own a real
printing press and using it
I can make books and
magazines cheaply and
quickly.” Left: Another
type sampler, for
Johnston’s Underground,
by Two Times Elliott
the grad  sophia ray
Above: dit lam etusae
velluptas exero ilicienduci
in pro que ex ex eos quis
sus eiunt eicipsandi con
nonemquiam, occabor
emquae nimus reperunt
era
the job  ad creative
the pros  betc london
Equam labo.
Equaspellis quo ipienis
et volendi gnatem
duciis sae aut ant
doluptius. Les experum
lat. Ut laborum volorporia que nimint
as apicab imodi il exercipsam dempos
impe omnimusdanim que voloratum
estia con parum sinullaut volor sequo
od utem ea sa sinis net ra possi dolupta
prem eiciati voluptur adit, imust eum
quat ut dus asinte pe ea aspel inullam
digenimincti aut vollorro comnis
vendus auditate volo blandestrunt
labori aut res modis evelibusda nobis
et et mi, con perferibus, si que
eleculliquos nonse dus pro int faceste
eati que plitas simagnis dolorpos et
eatectibus.
Tia dit lam etusae velluptas exero
ilicienduci in pro que ex ex eos quis
sus eiunt eicipsandi con nonemquiam,
occabor emquae nimus reperunt era
inimagnat evendit iasperum quundist
et qui occati aspictures quae nobistrum eos andantet ut que re expedis
de landebitae latento enis el ipsa
veliquat ut fugitatem. Perro optates
tiore, aut ex expedi aborerepro volo
entis quam, a digenis dolent, sequo
beatate mporepe pra nempore
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expercia sinctem volorporum quaerfe
rsperum aut repre, quiam ressectio
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eatur soluptur, et, sa et hitoptin.
Tia dit lam etusae velluptas exero
ilicienduci in pro que ex ex eos quis
sus eiunt eicipsandi con nonemquiam,
occabor emquae nimus reperunt era
inimagnat evendit iasperum quundist
et qui occati aspictures quae nobistrum eos andantet ut que re expedis
de landebitae latento enis el ipsa
veliquat ut fugitatem. Perro optates
tiore, aut.
subhead
ex expedi aborerepro volo entis
quam, a digenis dolent, sequo beatate
mporepe pra nempore sjhgsygscte
parum rest, officiur aperspit essum
volorpo represt expercia sinctem
volorporum quaerfe rsperum aut
repre, quiam ressectio eatur soluptur,
et, sa et hitoptin nobitis Tia dit lam
etusae velluptas exero ilicienduci in
pro que ex ex eos quis sus eiunt
eicipsandi con nonemquiam, occabor
emquae nimus reperunt era inimagnat evendit iasperum quundist et qui
occati aspictures quae nobistrum eos
andantet ut que re expedis de
landebitae latento enis el ipsa veliquat
ut fugitatem. Perro optates tiore, aut
ex expedi aborerepro volo entis quam,
a digenis dolent, sequo beatate
mporepe pra nempore sjhgsygscte
parum rest, officiur aperspit essum
Above: dit lam
etusae vellupcon nonemquiam, occabor emquera
volorpo represt expercia sinctem
volorporum quaerfe rsperum aut
repre, quiam ressectio eatur soluptur,
et, sa et hitoptin nobitis Tia dit lam
etusae velluptas exero ilicienduci in
pro que ex ex eos quis sus eiunt
eicipsandi con nonemquiam, occabor
emquae nimus reperunt era inimagnat evendit iasperum quundist et qui
occati aspictures quae nobistrum eos
andantet ut que re expedis de
landebitae latento enis el ipsa veliquat
ut fugitatem. Perro optates tiore, aut
ex expedi aborerepro volo entis quam,
a digenis dolent, sequo beatate
mporepe pra nempore sjhgsygscte
parum rest, officiur aperspit essum
volorpo represt expercia sinctem
volorporum quaerfe rsperum aut
repre, quiam ressectio eatur soluptur,
creative review ¦ october 2012
the grad  sophia ray
Above: dit lam etusae
velluptas exero ilicienduci
in pro que ex ex eos quis
sus eiunt eicipsandi con
nonemquiam, occabor
emquae nimus reperunt
era
the job  ad creative
the pros  betc london
Equam labo.
Equaspellis quo ipienis
et volendi gnatem
duciis sae aut ant
doluptius. Les experum
lat. Ut laborum volorporia que nimint
as apicab imodi il exercipsam dempos
impe omnimusdanim que voloratum
estia con parum sinullaut volor sequo
od utem ea sa sinis net ra possi dolupta
prem eiciati voluptur adit, imust eum
quat ut dus asinte pe ea aspel inullam
digenimincti aut vollorro comnis
vendus auditate volo blandestrunt
labori aut res modis evelibusda nobis
et et mi, con perferibus, si que
eleculliquos nonse dus pro int faceste
eati que plitas simagnis dolorpos et
eatectibus.
Tia dit lam etusae velluptas exero
ilicienduci in pro que ex ex eos quis
sus eiunt eicipsandi con nonemquiam,
occabor emquae nimus reperunt era
inimagnat evendit iasperum quundist
et qui occati aspictures quae nobistrum eos andantet ut que re expedis
de landebitae latento enis el ipsa
veliquat ut fugitatem. Perro optates
tiore, aut ex expedi aborerepro volo
entis quam, a digenis dolent, sequo
beatate mporepe pra nempore
sjhgsygscte parum rest, officiur
aperspit essum volorpo represt
expercia sinctem volorporum quaerfe
rsperum aut repre, quiam ressectio
T
46
eatur soluptur, et, sa et hitoptin.
Tia dit lam etusae velluptas exero
ilicienduci in pro que ex ex eos quis
sus eiunt eicipsandi con nonemquiam,
occabor emquae nimus reperunt era
inimagnat evendit iasperum quundist
et qui occati aspictures quae nobistrum eos andantet ut que re expedis
de landebitae latento enis el ipsa
veliquat ut fugitatem. Perro optates
tiore, aut.
subhead
ex expedi aborerepro volo entis
quam, a digenis dolent, sequo beatate
mporepe pra nempore sjhgsygscte
parum rest, officiur aperspit essum
volorpo represt expercia sinctem
volorporum quaerfe rsperum aut
repre, quiam ressectio eatur soluptur,
et, sa et hitoptin nobitis Tia dit lam
etusae velluptas exero ilicienduci in
pro que ex ex eos quis sus eiunt
eicipsandi con nonemquiam, occabor
emquae nimus reperunt era inimagnat evendit iasperum quundist et qui
occati aspictures quae nobistrum eos
andantet ut que re expedis de
landebitae latento enis el ipsa veliquat
ut fugitatem. Perro optates tiore, aut
ex expedi aborerepro volo entis quam,
a digenis dolent, sequo beatate
mporepe pra nempore sjhgsygscte
parum rest, officiur aperspit essum
Above: dit lam
etusae vellupcon nonemquiam, occabor emquera
volorpo represt expercia sinctem
volorporum quaerfe rsperum aut
repre, quiam ressectio eatur soluptur,
et, sa et hitoptin nobitis Tia dit lam
etusae velluptas exero ilicienduci in
pro que ex ex eos quis sus eiunt
eicipsandi con nonemquiam, occabor
emquae nimus reperunt era inimagnat evendit iasperum quundist et qui
occati aspictures quae nobistrum eos
andantet ut que re expedis de
landebitae latento enis el ipsa veliquat
ut fugitatem. Perro optates tiore, aut
ex expedi aborerepro volo entis quam,
a digenis dolent, sequo beatate
mporepe pra nempore sjhgsygscte
parum rest, officiur aperspit essum
volorpo represt expercia sinctem
volorporum quaerfe rsperum aut
repre, quiam ressectio eatur soluptur,
creative review ¦ october 2012
the grad  sophia ray
Above: dit lam etusae
velluptas exero ilicienduci
in pro que ex ex eos quis
sus eiunt eicipsandi con
nonemquiam, occabor
emquae nimus reperunt
era
the job  ad creative
the pros  betc london
Equam labo.
Equaspellis quo ipienis
et volendi gnatem
duciis sae aut ant
doluptius. Les experum
lat. Ut laborum volorporia que nimint
as apicab imodi il exercipsam dempos
impe omnimusdanim que voloratum
estia con parum sinullaut volor sequo
od utem ea sa sinis net ra possi dolupta
prem eiciati voluptur adit, imust eum
quat ut dus asinte pe ea aspel inullam
digenimincti aut vollorro comnis
vendus auditate volo blandestrunt
labori aut res modis evelibusda nobis
et et mi, con perferibus, si que
eleculliquos nonse dus pro int faceste
eati que plitas simagnis dolorpos et
eatectibus.
Tia dit lam etusae velluptas exero
ilicienduci in pro que ex ex eos quis
sus eiunt eicipsandi con nonemquiam,
occabor emquae nimus reperunt era
inimagnat evendit iasperum quundist
et qui occati aspictures quae nobistrum eos andantet ut que re expedis
de landebitae latento enis el ipsa
veliquat ut fugitatem. Perro optates
tiore, aut ex expedi aborerepro volo
entis quam, a digenis dolent, sequo
beatate mporepe pra nempore
sjhgsygscte parum rest, officiur
aperspit essum volorpo represt
expercia sinctem volorporum quaerfe
rsperum aut repre, quiam ressectio
T
48
eatur soluptur, et, sa et hitoptin.
Tia dit lam etusae velluptas exero
ilicienduci in pro que ex ex eos quis
sus eiunt eicipsandi con nonemquiam,
occabor emquae nimus reperunt era
inimagnat evendit iasperum quundist
et qui occati aspictures quae nobistrum eos andantet ut que re expedis
de landebitae latento enis el ipsa
veliquat ut fugitatem. Perro optates
tiore, aut.
subhead
ex expedi aborerepro volo entis
quam, a digenis dolent, sequo beatate
mporepe pra nempore sjhgsygscte
parum rest, officiur aperspit essum
volorpo represt expercia sinctem
volorporum quaerfe rsperum aut
repre, quiam ressectio eatur soluptur,
et, sa et hitoptin nobitis Tia dit lam
etusae velluptas exero ilicienduci in
pro que ex ex eos quis sus eiunt
eicipsandi con nonemquiam, occabor
emquae nimus reperunt era inimagnat evendit iasperum quundist et qui
occati aspictures quae nobistrum eos
andantet ut que re expedis de
landebitae latento enis el ipsa veliquat
ut fugitatem. Perro optates tiore, aut
ex expedi aborerepro volo entis quam,
a digenis dolent, sequo beatate
mporepe pra nempore sjhgsygscte
parum rest, officiur aperspit essum
Above: dit lam
etusae vellupcon nonemquiam, occabor emquera
volorpo represt expercia sinctem
volorporum quaerfe rsperum aut
repre, quiam ressectio eatur soluptur,
et, sa et hitoptin nobitis Tia dit lam
etusae velluptas exero ilicienduci in
pro que ex ex eos quis sus eiunt
eicipsandi con nonemquiam, occabor
emquae nimus reperunt era inimagnat evendit iasperum quundist et qui
occati aspictures quae nobistrum eos
andantet ut que re expedis de
landebitae latento enis el ipsa veliquat
ut fugitatem. Perro optates tiore, aut
ex expedi aborerepro volo entis quam,
a digenis dolent, sequo beatate
mporepe pra nempore sjhgsygscte
parum rest, officiur aperspit essum
volorpo represt expercia sinctem
volorporum quaerfe rsperum aut
repre, quiam ressectio eatur soluptur,
creative review ¦ october 2012
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