It’s not only an amazingly beautiful technique, it’s also a very environmentally friendly printing process. Last week I attended an inspiring Risograph workshop with Herr und Frau Rio.

Analogue preparing of the Riso prints

Let me give you a quick introduction to risograph printing. The name originates from the Riso Kagaku Corporation, the company that launched the first Risograph in 1986. Back then it was mainly used for fast and cheap duplications in schools and for public authorities. Nowadays the Risograph became a popular printing technique for specialised publishers, designers, artists and illustrators.

Photo: Hannes Rohrer für Herr und Frau Rio

It’s actually very similar to screen printing, as it is a stencil printing process. Every colour is printed as a separate layer. The beauty of this printing technique is that, although it is mechanically printed, it creates perfectly imperfect prints. I really like the quirky results from this process. That’s why Riso prints have a unique look, with bright colours and a slightly shifted positioning of the different colour layers.

Photo: Herr und Frau Rio

The unpredictable nature of the Risograph makes the outcome always a bit surprising and variable, an aspect of this printing technique that I really love, especially in a sometimes overplanned and controlled digital world. The founders of We are out of office also encourage people to just start Risograph printing and make mistakes. It’s the best way to understand the process and see what’s going wrong.

As Louise Lockhart described it very well: Riso printing ticks so many boxes. It’s quick, cheap, ethical, not labor intensive, eco-friendly and looks great. The ink is soy oil-based and the master films are made from hemp fibers. In addition, the Riso requires only a fraction of the energy of a digital press.

Photo & prints: We are out of office

I’ve definitely become a fan of this printing technique and I hope I've been able to inspire you too. If you’re in Munich, definitely check out the Herr und Frau Rio website in advance to find the latest workshop dates. If you are in Brussels though, you can go to Chez Rosi. In the Netherlands, Utrecht, you have the amazing We are out of office.