On Black Friday as part of our annual printsale, I had the opportunity to pull some prints, with the help of Tiny Splendor’s …….. on the newly purchased Risograph printer, which the Honolulu Printmakers now owns. The aesthetic of the Risograph is somewhere between a silkscreen and a photocopy, so I used some of my 80’s band posters to test the machine, especially since I am considering to create a limited edition artist book on my first two years in New York (78-80), planning to print it on this machine.
“The Risograph is a high-speed digital printing system manufactured by the Riso Kagaku Corporation and was designed mainly for high-volume photocopyingand printing. It was released in Japan in August 1986. It is sometimes called a digital duplicator or printer-duplicator, as newer models can be used as a network printer as well as a stand-alone duplicator. When printing or copying many duplicates (generally more than 20)[attribution needed] of the same content, it is typically far less expensive per page than a conventional photocopier, laser printer, or inkjet printer. Printing historian Rick O’Connor has debated that the original, and thus correct, name for the device is RISSO and not RISO. This debate spawns from the notion that an extra ‘S’ is added because the inventor’s wife found it more pleasing to the ears.” Wipikedia
“The underlying technology is very similar to a mimeograph. It brings together several processes which were previously carried out manually, for example using the Riso Print Gocco system or the Gestetner system.
The original is scanned through the machine and a master is created, by means of tiny heat spots on a thermal plate burning voids (corresponding to image areas) in a master sheet. This master is then wrapped around a drum and ink is forced through the voids in the master. The paper runs flat through the machine while the drum rotates at high speed to create each image on the paper.” Wipikedia
These band posters were done between 1981 and 1985 for my bands Festival of Patience (81-82), NADA (82-83) and East of Eden (84-87) as cut and paste photocopies. Typically a risograph comes with several color drums and one can print two colors at the same time. The registration is not perfect in these prints. At the present time I do not know if that can be achieved. The effect is something like a drop shadow and gives it a little excitement. It works less well with fine details.
The risograph has fallen out of favor in commercial applications, but is popular with small independent presses, fanzines, artists who publish limited edition artist books, etc. You can scan an image and create a master or you can print from a digital file. It is contemporary with a cool look that reminds us of the punk DIY philosophy, just like a simple rock’n roll song.