In 2012, while studying design at the Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design, I began a tutoring position at the Institute for Book Design and Media Development, supervised by professor Uli Cluss. The field of work included operating a new kind of printer that the institute had recently acquired—a risograph.

The MZ770, a two-color duplicator

Due to the establishment of many small independent publishing houses fifteen years ago, risography was experiencing a revival. Artists and designers from all over the world were installing a “Riso” in their studios to produce small print runs inexpensively and independently of large printing houses, as were my fellow students and I at the ABK Stuttgart.

Over the course of the following years I dug deeper into the issue, and was thrown into open waters full of testing, experimenting and countless hours spent with challenging tasks, which all led to useful insights. Printing blank pages due to unreadable data, paper jams, and the mystics of a printing machine were some of many tasks to overcome. Growing with the topic and learning from mistakes I supervised the printing processes of my fellow students, taught them about the results of uncoated paper and ink coverage of unfixable ink, and was ultimately able to amass a plethora of do’s and don’ts.

After attending the biennial Magical Riso congress in 2016, I took the chance to connect with colleagues and print-enthusiasts from all over the world. This exchange of knowledge, ideas and expertise was the driving force that would ultimately lead to the development of my diploma thesis: a compendium about risography.

The book offers views into risography’s history, insights into how colour and paper interact, rules and regulations of the printing process and ways to handle the different challenges that occur while using this tabletop duplicating device.

A true novelty—at least at that time—was the integration of high quality colour management processes, usually only to be found in highly economised offset printing, and the development of unique colour profiles which I then integrated into my own publishing practice.

At the end of this journey, a 176 page strong publication emerged. Including 32 uniquely developed swatch prints that use the colour profiles and show their aesthetical qualities, the book offers the most comprehensive insight into risography to date.

In 2018 we applied for the publication to be part of the newly formed “Discovered” series, a collaboration between the institute for book design and media developement of ABK Stuttgart, HGB Leipzig, HfBK Hamburg and Spector Books. Prof. Uli Cluss, Prof. Ludovic Balland, Prof. Ingo Offermanns and Prof. Markus Dressen, helped us conceive and initiate the project, bringing the publication over the finish line. In a two-year process together with my studio partner Steffen Knöll (during the day we are known as Studio Tillack Knöll), we re-released this thesis, completely overhauled for a first English edition. We, as a studio, are very grateful for the financial help, conceptional and aesthetic advice from our professor Uli Cluss as well as everyone else involved.

Opening the field up for other illustrating artists, the Exploriso colour suite, an independent brochure situated within the book, acts as an edition of originals surrounded by the publication’s written content. Nine colour swatch prints, sixteen illustrations and eight text snippets showcase the printing techniques’ (un)qualities as a point of reference.

Translated into English by Jonas Teichert and proof-read by Sara Hoss and Hanne Mächler, the main book was printed and produced by Offizin Scheufele, Stuttgart; the risography prints were supervised and printed by Colorama with exemplary precision.

Illustrations were contributed by the following designers and artists from all around the world: Tiziana Jill Beck, Blexbolex, It’s Raining Elephants, Maja Behrmann, Ben El Halawany, Hansje Van Halem, Pooroni Rhee, Lea Dohle, Zoran Pungerčar, Christoph Feist, Stefan Marx, Hyojoon Jo, Raby-Florence Fofana, Dr. Alderete, Kati Szilágyi, Patrick Thomas, Craig Proud, Rachel Littlewood, Herr & Frau Rio, Marjolein Schalk, Sigrid Calon, João Doria, Paul John, Christiane Haas and Sina Schindler.

Ben El Halawany
Hansje Van Halem
Porooni Rhee
Lea Dohle
Zoran Pungerčar
Christoph Feist
Stefan Marx
Hyojoon Jo
Raby-Florence Fofana
Dr. Alderete
Kati Szilágyi
Patrick Thomas

As setting up a studio or print shop can be challenging on one’s budget, we decided to offer the book’s complete content online for free; the same goes for the the colour profiles that can be downloaded here. After reading the book online feel free to use all the colour profiles for upcoming projects, self-initiated or commercial. We are keen to see how you implement them! 🙂

As a little heads-up: these profiles were developed roughly four years ago, therefore we cannot take any responsibility for the final outcome, but are sure that a risograph printer of your choosing will offer top-notch advice.

All the best, and enjoy this website!
Sven Tillack with Steffen Knöll,
Studio Tillack Knöll
Stuttgart, 23 February 2021