When I was asked to set up a new Lab for Printing and Publishing at the Van Eyck in Maastricht, I immediately realised that the Riso Duplicator would play an essential role in it. For many years, I worked, mostly with graphic designers, on publications printed in offset by a selected group of printers and bookbinders. Artists always felt uncomfortable to give main parts of the production out of their hands to external professionals, even though we always monitored the test runs.
By giving the duplicator a central role in an environmentally friendly lab the artists could stay very close to the production process and make adjustments to their liking. Additionally, we offered peripheral equipment to be able to produce low edition artists’ books from A to Z. The Charles Nypels Lab was born and proved to be a success. Besides the argument of direct and low-cost accessibility to a press, the typical raw aesthetics of stencil printing with its vibrant colours are the most appealing characteristics embraced by a large and growing group of artists and designers.
After a long period in the offset world, the transition to stencil printing was a very liberating experience to me. Suddenly a lot of stress factors in production fell away, like subtle colour controls, resolution issues and registration on a micro-level. The focus was on content again.
Ironically, nowadays more and more appealing Riso colour charts and manuals are produced by colleagues who put a lot of effort into it. Mostly to communicate with their clients or out of pure joy, but also in trying to “control the uncontrollable”.
At the biennial Magical Riso conference organised by the Printing & Publishing Lab [then known as Charles Nypels Lab], a gathering of the main players in Risography, the request to Riso to start producing CMYK colours is a recurring topic. I truly hope that Riso will resist, it will degrade our beloved stencil technique to a “poor mans offset”.
Exploriso: Low-tech Fine Art by Sven Tillack is a courageous undertaking to write a new benchmark to Risography, with a focus on its technical aspects. I can imagine a publication like this will have regular updates in the future since fortunately, the stencil technique is more alive than ever. Many young colleagues are starting the adventure. I’m grateful to Spector Books that they provide the world with an English edition.
Head of the Jan van Eyck Academie Printing & Publishing Lab
Jan van Eyck Academie, Maasticht