Guide to printing risograph: interview with Concretipo Studio
It's called Risograph, but the rice we put on our tables has nothing to do with it. The name comes from the Japanese word "Rice" which means "ideal". It is a technique that uses a printer-duplicator known as Risograph, invented in 1986 by the RISO Kagaku Corporation. It is a sort of automated mimeograph that actually hides its great potential within its limits: the different color passages and the out-of-register, in fact, create unique results for each copy of the print run that is sent to print, which will differ from the others. even if in an almost imperceptible way. A sort of reminder of the charm of imperfection that only a not fully automated process can give us.
If you are curious to understand what we are talking about, on Frab's we have several titles printed in risograph (Rip Zine, Further Reading, Nodes, Valet, Bones, the posters of Friscospeak and of Extra Teeth... just to name a few), but first we want to explain well what the Risograph is and how it works.
We asked Giuseppe and Linda, two professional designers, who created CONCRETIPO in 2017, to help us tell you about this printing technique, a direct descendant of the mimeograph.
Linda is a graphic designer with a particular aptitude for craftsmanship and paper converting. Giuseppe is an illustrator expert in printing and inks, with a passion for art in all its forms and reproducibility. Their creation, CONCRETIPO, is an independent graphic design and printing studio, specializing in graphic design, product design and printing, also and above all risograph. But more than a press service, they like to define themselves as "a reservoir of resources with which to transform your ideas into something concrete"
In your Instagram bio write "Risograph print service", would you like to explain us what Risograph printing is?
The Risograph is uA printing technique that uses soy-based inks and banana fiber matrices. It is about a stencil duplicator, created in the early 1970s for mass printing, which found a new life in multi-color printing, revealing its experimental artistic value. A risograph print, as well as retaining authenticity of hand-made printing, has in fact particularly distinctive characteristics: it is it is inevitable to find small variations in intensity and out of register between colors, as well as some overprints due to the printing process and exclusive colors, capable of generating unique effects and results.
That "Risograph print service" that you read in our bio, is an invitation to find out what it is, a way to underline our "top service" and the focus on independent productions, considering Rice as a symbol of an alternative approach to printing. , more creative, experimental and in a certain way artisanal.
How does Risograph printing technically work?
To convey the idea, we need to imagine a print halfway between screen printing and off-set printing. There are many settings that I affectnor on how the printing and engraving of the matrix works, but very briefly we will limit ourselves to explaining the process.
The Riso is able to engrave and general the printing matrix, this is automatically positioned around the color cylinder, in which the ink is housed. Once printing has started, the sheet is impressed by passing through the paper outlet, under the rotating cylinder, to be ejected on the other side.
Each color corresponds to a cylinder, which in practice is a machine component destined for that specific color, which is why the printing process is repeated for all the colors present in the image. Of course it is very important to prepare a drying phase and carefully follow the printing phase, check the registration, limiting the inevitable out-of-register created by the machine, however. not less important is the creation and accuracy of the file even before going to print.
This printing technique has a number of limitations, such as the misregisters you mentioned, but despite this it is experiencing a new flowering. Why?
It is una machine born in other years and for another purpose ... for which the limits are various: from the reprinting, to the out of register, to the printing effects, due to the impression, which differ slightly between copies. However, these limits were perceived as a potential tool for creation and experimentation. The technique requires manpower, at the same time, designing in Riso means knowing how to exploit and consider, as much as possible, the characteristics of the machine.
The copies produced are unique in their kind, they vibrate as if they were handmade by the artist and the control of the overprinting, allows to create countless effects and chromatic experiments thanks also to the natural composition of the inks that enhances the brightness and vivacity of the colors. giving back to the prints their own, very particular and authentic aesthetic.
Its comeback is probably due to the fact that a today technology has created a certain flattening, printing has aligned itself with digital, disqualifying its artistic value and losing the emotional and experimental character, typical of every traditional technique.
Its new flowering is probably due to the fact that the aesthetics of the prints are released from certain standardized canons, opening a reflection and a challenge that leads, creatives and users, to re-evaluate limits as unexpressed potential or distinctive trait, qualifying, unique.
You work every day with paper and ink, but in your opinion what is the meaning and role of printing in a digital world?
We think the press will continue to play a role nand the future. The advent of photography has not replaced painting, so we believe that certain forms and communication tools do not disappear, but transform themselves acquiring a new value and a new role over time. In recent years, in the field of communication, companies that continue to invest in printing are looking for a support and a product / object that represents their identity in a much more authentic way than digital can do. Today, undoubtedly less is being printed, but we believe there is a completely different approach because perhaps as a result, with the reduction of mass printing, a common sensitivity to it has developed. The customer has much more choice between types of media and techniques, and is more attentive to the content he decides to print, to the final composition of his "dress".
In our opinion, the contemporary and future printed product is an object whose value goes beyond the print itself, not limiting itself to being a mere vehicle of the message to become a distinctive symbol, impregnated with that same message.
To make an analogism, in artistic communication, the role of printing has also changed from a technique of art reproduction, therefore support, to an instrument of experimentation and expression for artists and creatives. We believe that like everything that comes from an art form, it cannot become obsolete, but only transform its function and thus from the artist's catalog we arrive at the artist's book rather than the limited autographed edition.
During the first lookdown, we made a post, somewhat provocative about it, 'what is world without printers?', A reflection on how cold the streets and houses would be and how limited our perceptions if the artistic expression or the information were no longer tangible and defined, but locked up in some folder or server, without actually entering, in the form of "object / print", into our daily context.
What future do magazines have (if they have one)?
In our opinion, as for the press, there is also a future for magazines. We can imagine that if the most interesting contents are easily shared on the web, the most sought after, visionary, curious and cared for down to the smallest detail, will go to print with justified courage. In short, it is evident that the advent of digital determines a certain selection, from the contents, to the quantities, to the product destined for printing this also for magazines, but the creation of un magazine is not just the composition of interesting articles correlated by beautiful images, that's why we think it has a future. "The magazine" was born from a concept that is expressed in the product itself and in which the reader recognizes himself, from the layout, to the format up to the choice of paper and the characteristics that the print must convey, a series of emotions that are returned through the physical experience that digital is lacking.
We imagine that the magazines will acquire more and more identifying and particular printing characteristics, of value and ennobling, to underline the value of the print and of the product created and manufactured.