Wenting Li Answers...
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?)
my friends Jean & Olivia (of bullywug press in Toronto!) did a testrun of a riso workshop earlier this year, where they showed friends how to properly colour separate when designing a riso print digitally – plus other fun and useful things. but i started off setting up riso files using bad practices and i find i keep slipping back even after learning new and better ways! what i do is have a separate photoshop folder for each colour, option-click-paint bucket the folder with the HEX code colour that is the closest match for the riso ink colour (your riso printer will have a colour chart with the codes) and set each folder to multiply to get a sense of how colours will overlay when printed. Inside each colour folder, I draw using pure black, and change the layer opacities to get the shades of grey that make all the cool riso colour combinations. this is not a very smart way to do this, as once you merge down your layers, things get messy if you want to change opacities and it can be impossible to make changes cleanly. this isn’t necessarily bad as riso-printing feels quite forgiving of errors. but, the better way is to hue/saturation mask your photoshop folders to the correct hex colour match for the ink colour, so you can work in shades of grey and not use pure black opacities. , , to pick colours, i like to fan out my riso colour samples booklet and try to find interesting colour relationships by twisting it around and laying different colours next to each other. having a physical colour reference gives a nice serendipity & unexpectedness! usually i start from here with a combo of 2-3 colours i think would look cool together, but are different enough to give a good range of overlapping shade possibilities. sometimes this works out, and sometimes once in photoshop i start paint bucketing in drastically different colours & switching the palette around completely. with a zine, i usually stick to the original colour choices quite closely as the focus is on narrative rather than colour exploration, whereas when drawing a print often the colours change completely as the image makes itself known. ,
Share 1-3 things about your creative/conceptualizing process.
a lot of my personal work come from my sketchbook drawings, often inspired by the usual trove of collected visual cues which come from fashion & architecture (i feel like the shapes i like here can be echoes of each other!), museum object collections (when i was younger my mother ordered 2 years’ worth of day-by-day calendars from the Met and i still have a lot of these that i’ve kept as to hang on successive bedroom walls), paper ephemera (i love- patterns, giftwrap, postcards, pin backing cards, candy wrappers, bookmarks from small businesses, and restaurant menus), and books i like paging through (a longtime favourite is an embarrassingly dated copy of American scenic drives from life magazine. my father loves to drive & camp cross-country). when i’m trying to think about ideas for a new project, i take cues from work that i’ve enjoyed making, and try to clarify and expand these things into images, or comics, and also through colours. ,
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?)
Our Lady started as a different zine i was trying to draw, and i doodled a giant lady on the beach next to a spread of frustrated planning in my sketchbook. then i decided the giant lady was way more interesting and that became the story instead. i think a lot of what interests me narratively is about the ways we are close to each other and how these relationships are shaped. even literal shapes. maybe it’s a negative shape. or it’s something growing into another. maybe some of what is going on is unknowable. a cool thing about drawing, which i think isn't as easy to do with text, is how you can say just enough without have to say everything. ,
Do you have any risograph-related tips and tricks you'd like to share?
if you’re uncertain where to start with a first riso project, i think flo pink makes everything look better! it’s beautifully shocking on paper and super versatile when layered against other colours,
What is something that you would like to say to anyone reading this right now?
i hope looking through this riso showcase offers a nice time of suspension, and maybe even connection. like with all tasks we try to do during quarantine, this is both a good and not-so-good time to try and read comics and look at art and see things around us. what comes next? (a green new deal, just recovery, and a lot of social change for the better i hope. plus, more art),