Our forthcoming October issue (out next week) has a major feature on the rise of Riso – the photocopier-like printers that have become so popular among the graphic art fraternity in recent years. To whet your appetite, here’s a look at the output of graphic designer Stuart Geddes‘ A Small Press in Melbourne…
Whilst researching our feature about Risograph (in which we explain the history and the mechanics of the machines, as well as profiling a number of studios putting the process to good use), we came across Gedde’s magazine, A Head Full of Snakes (cover above), created in collaboration with Luke Wood.
The magazine (spreads above and below) showcases how capable a Riso printer is of producing beautiful publications, not simply one or two colour zines. We made contact with Geddes to find out more about him and his use of Riso printing.
Creative Review: Are you a graphic designer by trade? Tell us about your practice and about A Small Press…
Stuart Geddes: Yes, I run a small (two person) publication-focused design studio, Chase & Galley, in Melbourne. We mostly make books, magazines, journals etc. A Small Press is the name we attached to our Risograph printer when we got it. It seemed like it should be an entity of its own, and the option is there to more formally become a publisher sometime in the future.
Before Chase & Galley I had another studio and worked as the art director at an architecture magazine, and overlapping with all of these I started (with some friends) another magazine called Is Not Magazine, which was published as a four-sheeter (2m x 1.5m) bill poster and posted on the streets of Melbourne and Sydney from April 2005 to July 2008.
It published a range of fiction and non-fiction content in many forms including, but not limited to, 2000 word essays, 300-500 word columns, comics, illustrations, diagrams, and 160 character (text message length) ‘flash fictions’. There was also a crossword.
See more issues of Is Not Magazine online here
CR: Can you tell us how you first heard about and started to use Riso printing?
SG: Dot Dot Dot magazine issue 15 was printed on a Riso duplicator and that was how I discovered the Riso back in 2008. I’d long been involved in independent and small press publishing, and [Riso] provided the means to experiment with actually owning a means of production, so to speak.
Above: spreads from 26 Runways26 Runways, a 56 page Riso-printed artist book by Jon Tarry, made collaboratively with Chase & Galley. The book, an edition of 75, pairs drawings of 26 runways with texts based on those locations. The book itself recalls other artists books, most specifically Twentysix Gasoline Stations by Ed Ruscha. More info and images here.
CR: What is it about Riso printing that you love?
SG: To begin with I really loved the idiosyncratic nature of the process, the mis-registration, scuffing and general crappiness of it. But as I’ve gone along I fetishise the printing style less – it’s just something you learn to design for. I appreciate more and more that what’s best about it is just that I own a real printing press and through it I can make books and magazines cheaply and quickly.
Above: Published by A Small Press, The Bedroom Philosopher Diaries is a 164 page Riso-printed book with text by musician, humorist and writer Justin Heazlewood, penned whilst on the road on tour between 2005 and 2011. It also includes photographs and illustrations by Leigh Rigozzi.
CR: We were thrilled to come across images of Head Full of Snakes online. Can you tell us a little about the project and if there’s a second issue in the pipeline?
SG: HFoS is a magazine (and a blog) I started with Luke Wood (who also publishes The National Grid magazine). He and I did a masters together a few years ago and we started HFoS at the end of last year. The idea was to do two issues a year, but we both just got too busy early this year to get a second one out although we’re hoping to have another one done by the end of the year.
Using the Riso was partly about the idea starting out as a fanzine, and to retain some of those lo-fi characteristics, but also, as we both customise and maintain motorcycles, it was in the spirit of this that we wanted to manually make this magazine, and have a hand in every aspect, from editing and planning to designing, printing, collating, binding and distribution. It was of course also a pragmatic decision, I have A Small Press in Melbourne, and Luke has Ilam Press at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch NZ.
CR: We saw a mention online of the Melbourne Risograph Printers Guild…
SG: The Guild is a tongue in cheek thing really. There are a few people here in Melbourne with Risographs, using them for different purposes, and we’ve got together a few times to discuss things, split bulk paper orders, and so on.
CR: So who else in your neck of the woods is doing interesting things with a Riso printer that our readers should check out?
SG: Brad Haylock is doing some great publishing under his imprint Surpllus. Aside from his Riso he also has a jogger, guillotine and semi-industrial perfect binder, so the whole setup.
Xavier Connoly runs Dawn Press, probably the only go-to Riso printer (the rest of us largely use them for our own projects to a greater or lesser extent). Xavier came to the Riso thing from photography, so has been doing some amazing work with photo reproduction and separating images using non-CMYK colours, greens, browns, purples etc. Some of these are visible through the link below to a great little bookstore here called Perimeter Books.
Rob Cordiner is more invested in zine culture than the rest of us probably, and you can see this stuff in the information section of his site at
cordiner.com.au. Rob is also the man behind Smalltime Books.
See more of Geddes’ work at chaseandgalley.com.
Look out for the October / Risography issue of CR next week!
Credit: The topmost image of Geddes’ Riso printer is by Tomas Friml.
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