Max Pepper Answers...
What's your favorite riso color or color combo?
Tough one! Teal and orange is a great, and a somewhat lesser used combo. Purple and green is also fun. Combining new colors is half the fun for me! (Bonus, for a more deluxe look, I'm a big fan of gold ink on dark paper!)
Share 1-3 things about your technical process. (ie. how do you color separate?, how do you decide which colors, binding method, or paper to use?, is your process traditional, digital, or both?, if it's collaborative what does the back and forth look like?)
For most of my riso-printing, I start with ink on paper drawings, which I scan and color digitally. Then of course it gets printed, so it's going from analog, to digital, back to analog, which is nice. In terms of colors, I really do love the solid full opacity colors, and in the past I lean towards larger fills of color and not always as many different tones/opacities, it's often a more graphic approach. Recently I've tried to explore more with gradients and layering and especially new colors whenever I have access to them. I often use black line-work and then several other colors for the fills, so I tend to use at least two or up to four colors per spread. This also means it can be a little trickier to get accurate registration (which is fairly important to me), so I try to thicken lines here and there to get extra trapping. , , As for book-making, I try to make my zines and books feel more "art objects" if possible (not to sound pretentious...). This usually means I try to find nice paper and cool finishing techniques like letterpressed cover, or cloth book tape (I also want to get a stamp or hand embosser for a monogram/logo!) I have a background in graphic design, so I try to keep the overall design in mind when I'm working on something. I'm also definitely a sucker for nice title pages and a colophon! (the little printing/publishing notes at the end) ☺
Share 1-3 things about your creative/conceptualizing process.
I often have a number of ideas in my head or that I write down, and unfortunately a fairly scant few have been fully realized... But I'm always trying to be more productive! As for the more "art books", I'll try to work around a loose theme and an overall design to the book. For "Quarry" I knew I wanted a book of more tableau-style illustrations, and that I wanted to use bright, bold colors. I had a very loose narrative structure in mind, that only became looser as the project grew. But it remained a good way to plan some key images I wanted to include (that I had floating in my head), and to guide the flow to the book. I also knew I wanted a letterpress cover because I hadn't seen that done very often in the zine/riso world, and I had access to one in Williamsburg (The Arm! They also have riso facilities and a TON of colors, go support them after all this craziness if over if you can!) , , I wanted to follow Quarry up with something thematically similar, so I focused on more pages, fewer colors per page, smaller size, and a similar folklore/mythology vibe, this time focusing on artifacts and masks, and similar imagery, some based on real artifacts and many that I drew from my head. , , For calendars, I had wanted an excuse to draw a bunch of (originally, mostly imaginary) birds. Then it was pretty well-received so I decided to continue the trend each year (two so far, lol). I had started planning early on what different animal each month would be for the 2020 Aquatic Life calendar (I usually use the Notes app to put down most of my ideas). Later on I started sketching out the thumbnails, and thinking about color combos. I was actually happy I gave myself more lead time with that one!, , I would still love to do some more comics, but I have a lot of trouble focusing on writing stories and giving myself enough time to do so. Plus they take sooo much time and energy!! But I really respect people that are able to create them regularly. I have a number of ideas for comics and I never seem to dedicate the time to create them. Hopefully more soon! , ,
What did you have on your mind when you were working on this project/piece (or in general)? (ie. Does your work (this or other) relate to a particular current movement or concept?)
I certainly find my default drawing style to gravitate towards weird faces, imaginary beasts, demons, and things inspired by a lifelong love of mythology and folklore. I've always drawn (and been drawn to the idea of) monsters and creepy stuff since I was little, likely because they figure so predominantly in stories from cultures around the world since mankind's earliest records, and lots of stories from my childhood. (In movies or books, I would always want to see the monster, or have it described, yet was inevitably disappointed when the depiction didn't match what I had in my head.) So that was always a reference point for me, and later in life those themes started to merge with a more flat graphic style in many cases. , , Having been fortunate to travel my fair share, I've always loved seeing artifacts or imagery from other places and hearing stories of gods, demons, heroes, and finding common threads among disparate cultures. Living in NYC also affords a great opportunity to explore museums and discover similar imagery and motifs. So my last book, "Idols", was definitely a response to that and having been drawing a lot of masks and totemic faces in my sketchbook. It was already a constant theme of mine so I figured it would be a good enough way to collect them and add new ones. Some were based on real artifacts and some were just made up. A number of them were sketches straight from my sketchbook with minimal retouching besides added color.
Do you have any risograph-related tips and tricks you'd like to share?
Try to find your own color combinations you like, and keep experimenting! Try not to overuse the ones that you see other people using. Pink is always great, but try to find new ways to use it (pink and blue used to be very overused, but it's started to phase out a bit). , , This may all be pretty common knowledge, but,, - Pink and yellow make an amazingggg neon orange together or a fun coral/peach color depending on opacity. , - Full opacity yellow and teal printed together actually makes a very nice dark green! , - Full opacity yellow and low opacity green makes a really nice neon lime color., - If you're looking for a wide range of color, you can get almost a full spectrum out of of just pink, yellow, and blue.
What is something that you would like to say to anyone reading this right now?
I hope everyone is being safe and trying to stay sane and healthy and being kind to one another! This is a great time to try and work on personal work if you can (I certainly need to be following my own advice there!). Thanks for reading and for looking at my work, I hope to see you all out there again sometime soon! ☺