We’ve had some fortuitous timing with this project, most notably that our decision to work with risograph aligned with The Old Waterworks expansion of their printmaking facilities to include – a risograph! Although I’m no longer a studio holder there, I’ve maintained contact with the organisation as well as links to many of the fantastic artists based there (Ruth being one). TOW, as an artist-led space, have an innate understanding that artist’s lives and practice don’t operate in a straight “career progression” line, and their work developing events and facilities available to artists – at all stages of their career – is part of making this a community space as well as as a creative facility.
Anyway, back to the risograph…
TOW’s risograph acquistion was accelerated after the Rabbit’s Road induction, so it was only a month later that Ruth and I were able to begin our first tentative steps into independent working. I have a background as a printmaker and a printer, and while I’ve deviated into the digital world, it’s a medium that calls me back. To start the ball rolling I created a digital image based on a page from Vincent Steer’s 1934 “Printing Design and Layout”. I know how nerdy that sounds, but as all the typeface examples in black are ornamented in an orange-red, it seemed a perfect choice to work with to match TOW’s risograph colours of orange and black. This was merged with a found advertising layout image showing a woman on one side and a fragment of a Charles Atlas ad on the reverse, which I scanned and merged digitally.
The images were separated out into layers for the two colours, each in black for making the riso master. Working this way allowed me to think about the relationship between digital techniques and the new riso skills I needed to develop.
Ruth and I experimented printing with a wide range of papers in terms of colour, texture and weight to better understand what works best; the mix of block colour, text and halftone in the image helped us think through the different riso settings to get the best outcomes. We’ve saved these prints as a form of database to refer back to through the project, but posted the images on social media, getting some great responses, particularly about the necessity of an “Excursion Waste Basket”.