Our favorite riso color combo is melon and cornflower. Why, you ask? Because they look realllllllll good together! A very handsome couple o' colors that delight and charm.
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?)
We do pretty much all of our color separation and other prep stuff in Photoshop (and lay books out in inDesign). Since we print on an RP3700, we’re able to print directly from the a MacBook using the MZ series printer drivers (for some reason there’re no RP drivers). When we’re working with other people, we usually ask them to color separate their own art. But, because we like to treat risography as its own medium and not so much as an adaptation of something like offset printing, we find that thinking about the end result of a print from the get-go produces unique art. When you know you’ll be creating a risograph print with specific colors in mind, your art reflects that—you’ll layer colors in a way you might not normally approach your own artwork because of risograph’s natural limitations. We’re big believers that limitations set boundaries for interesting creative work.
Share 1-3 things about your creative/conceptualizing process.
We love complicated brackets and voting processes and hearing what our studiomates are excited about when they’re on the spot in a room together. Tossing out ideas as a group really reveals what everybody’s interested in at a given moment in time, so we can together capitalize on the momentum of the present. Group projects should be democratic, gosh darn it—we don’t like to force work into a thematic box unless everybody’s on board for the challenge., As a publisher, we ask artists what they care about in comics/art books and if they’re open to experimentation with physical format and feedback. It opens up a conversation not just about the story someone wants to tell, but the bigger ideals of what they’d like to see more of in the art book world and how we can push them toward that.
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?)
The Secret Rag is a special thing—we all (everybody working out of the physical studio) sit in a room and write a bunch of dumb and goofy ideas on a whiteboard for this one-sheet anthology every few months. Then we lightheartedly argue over what voting system works better, try to come to some consensus, and then talk through whatever theme we’ve all finally decided on. All our initial ideas disappear into the wind, scrapped at a moment’s notice for something newer and shinier, and then it’s all laid out in beautiful newsprint style (but on nice paper with fun ink colors). What we’re trying to do is push ourselves and our studiomates to experiment with new work. The rag is a time capsule that reflects everybody’s interests on a particular day boiled down to single image and four-panel gags, activities, block prints, or whatever! We all love anthologies and this is what happens when you compress one down to a single sheet of paper.
Do you have any risograph-related tips and tricks you'd like to share?
Here's a cool tip- if you have access to a 3D printer it’s totally possible to print certain broken riso parts. We were lucky to work with our wonderful friend Alex on re-creating RP model drum collars to replace the original ones when they crack (message us for the print file). Presumably there’s more you can do with 3D printing and risograph! JJ had a dream where we had re-printed the entire body of our RP in that early 2000s clear purple plastic like a gameboy color (maybe someday?)., Another tip- we use “Goof Off” on paper towels to clean our feed rollers between prints (keeping them roller mark free!) and De-Solv-It Contractor’s Citrus Scent Degreaser for cleaning drums (followed by denatured alcohol for de-greasing). It does *not* smell like citrus, it stinks. There are definitely other options out there but this is what’s worked for us!
What is something that you would like to say to anyone reading this right now?
Don’t be afraid of the risograph! Experiment with it, have fun, reach out to people in the community (everybody is so darn friendly), and don’t stress—it’s a tool for making art! Art is for fun.