Over the last years, graphic designers and artists have found new ways of expression through Mimeography, a stenciling technique with a unique look and feel situated somewhere between screenprinting, offset and photocopy. The machines used — mostly Risographs — print one or two solid colours at a time at a very low cost per print. More colours are produced by extra runs. The (mostly) manual colour separation and use of uncoated paper are limitations that often lead to a low-fi look, but in the hands of artists this becomes an advantage. Thus a technique aimed at the lower end of the printing market (used by small communities as parishes, schools or prisons…) is now enthusiastically claimed by small indie publishing houses, artists and printmakers all over.
technique: Contemporary use
Gestetner, Risograph, and other companies still make and sell highly automated mimeograph-like machines that are externally similar to photocopiers. The modern version of a mimeograph, called a digital duplicator, or copyprinter, contains a scanner, a thermal head for stencil cutting, and a large roll of stencil material entirely inside the unit. It makes the stencils and mounts and unmounts them from the print drum automatically, making it almost as easy to operate as a photocopier. The Risograph is the best known of these machines.
(source – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mimeograph)
Knust: from punk-zines to off-beat cmyk
One of the biggest ‘hubs’ in this international movement is Knust, the stencil workshop of Extrapool in Nijmegen, Holland. Back in the eighties, these folks used to print zines on old dirty hand-operated stencil machines (one for each colour!) during the squatters movement. Over the years they have become experts in the clean digital stencil technique, who manage to simulate cmyk-printing, albeit with an edge.
Knust does own publications, prints for clients and welcomes artists to come over and design and print their own books. Often european risoprinters collaborate with Knust for four-colour work.
Visual appeal: imperfection of the hand-made
The look and feel of risograph graphics fits well into the revival of techniques like screenprinting and letterpress (and even offset orientated graphic design that mimics the pre-desktop era of typesetting). These reproduction techniques value the hand-made, the author’s pingerprint, the organic irregularities that come with the process.
All these techniques produce images that reveal their making process, and in doing so they give the object (book, print, poster…) the status of an individual subject, a testimonial or an eye witness to the original, with a personal voice, rather than a mere reproduction (a transparent referrer to the original).
In comparison to silk screen and letterpress, risography is more limited in it’s scope of expression, but it has major advantages: it has an extremely low entry level and is fast. And it has less retro-feel or historical reference to live up to.
publishers & printshops
Extrapool > http://www.extrapool.nl/
Afreux > http://www.afreux.be/site/?news
pttl > http://www.pttl.be
Duke Press > http://www.dukepress.co.uk/index.html
Landfill > http://www.landfilleditions.com/
Landfill > http://blog.eyemagazine.com/?p=533
Rolling Sea > http://www.rollingsea.co.uk/shop/
Victory press > http://www.victorypress.co.uk/
Ditto > http://www.dittopress.co.uk/
Hato Press > http://hatopress.net/1/
Manymono > http://www.manymono.com/
Standard Form > http://standardform.org/site/ ????
Rollo Press > http://rollo-press.com/
AML > http://apresmidilab.com/riso.html
surpluss > http://www.surpllus.com/
evil twin books > http://www.eviltwinpublications.com/ts.html
issue press > http://www.issue-press.com/
Gijs Frieling > http://www.gijsfrieling.nl/
ward zwart > http://wardxzwart.blogspot.com/
olivier schrauwen > http://ollieschrauwen.blogspot.com/
caroline paquita > http://www.carolinepaquita.com/indexhibit/project/recent-work-printed-on-my-risograph/
April Gertler: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/aprilvg/damp-patches-a-book-project
Tom Debby > http://www.plimsoul.co.uk/
http://artzines.de/?p=1880 > Urs Lehni wins the Swiss Federal Design Award