Riso Workshop

Sam Fox is a host of cool equipment: from letter presses to laser cutters. The good news is that students who are in studios with this equipment are taught how to use it safely and have access to it during lab monitor hours. The better news? Students can also gain access to these unique tools by participating in the many free workshops that Sam Fox provides during the semester. From Fox Fridays (http://www.samfoxfridays.com/) to AIGA workshops, there’s a multitude of possibilities for creative exploration and gaining familiarity with these machines.

This spring the WashU AIGA chapter did a Risograph workshop. Riso printing, created in Japan, has historically been a inexpensive and quick way to produce single color copies. It has recently become a trendy way of printmaking for its simple process, bright colors, and ability to create the unique outcomes beloved in analog printing methods.

So how does one use a Risograph printer and what does a workshop for one look like?

The first step: Drawing! The workshop began with the participants in the usual meet up spot for AIGA in Steinberg. Each person drew for ten minutes in black and grey markers from a still life of plants borrowed from the neighboring architecture studio. Then, we chose a partner so the drawings could be printed on top of one another, one in blue and the other in pink. We then made the journey to the printmaking studio to perform the crucial next step.

So how exactly does it work? We learned during the workshop from the studio technician that a Riso printer scans a master copy on film and uses a single color ink drum to quickly churn out copies. This means that the copy creates values based on the blacks and grays in the original scanned image. Sheets can be put through the machine multiple times with different colored drums in order to make multi color images. Sam Fox’s printer was received from the local Riso printing shop, Riso Hell, run by a WashU alumnus.

Time to print! We arranged our sheets as the technician put the drums in. With each drawing she created the master, did one test print and once it was approved bright pink prints were flying out of the machine containing the images we had drawn: planters with faces, patterns of succulents, and friendly caterpillars. On top of those, soon after, the second set of drawings were spilling out of the machine in a waterfall of vibrant blue. The pages piled up with the ink layered in printed pools of the rich color. An exciting sight for any art and design enthusiast!

The last step? Binding them all into a books… a copy for everyone!