Could you talk us through the risograph process? How does it differ from standard printing?
Risograph uses a spot colour print process, similar to screen printing but with the speed of a photocopier.
Each layer of colour is printed individually from a master (or screen) created inside the machine which then wraps around an ink drum. The drum then rotates and pushes the ink through the screen to transfer an image onto paper.
Colours can be layered at varying opacities to give a wide range of tones. For artwork that hasn’t been designed specifically for Riso, this can mean you’ll produce an interpretation rather than a like-for-like reproduction that you could achieve with digital print.
Over the years, Risograph has gained popularity with designers and artists; it’s eco-friendly, affordable and produces vibrant and unpredictable results.
How have you found working with Wafaa's image, Al-Mutanabbi Street, 2003-2013? What has been the biggest challenge?
We feel honoured to have been asked to do this mini-print for the crowdfunding campaign — the biggest challenge is trying to do justice to the image!
There’s an incredible amount of detail in Wafaa’s image and it’s packed full of subtle tones. It was vital that we balanced each of these elements to show the full devastation caused to the University of Baghdad’s College of Fine Arts library.
The nature of Risograph means that the registration (or alignment) of each layer will vary slightly page to page so we’ve worked hard to keep this as tight as possible so we don’t lose any of the sharps lines from the books in the foreground.
Risograph isn’t renowned for its colour subtlety so the other key element in reproducing, or in this case interpreting Wafaa’s image, was the colour separation. After a lot of trial and error, we opted for black, blue, yellow and fluoro pink (a make-shift CMYK) for Al-Mutanabbi Street, 2003-2013.
How does your interpretation of Al-Mutanabbi Street, 2003-2013 differ from the original?
The tones in the original image are muted, creating an almost ghostly hue.
Where we’ve used light layers of fluoro pink and yellow to achieve the right tones on the buildings our interpretation has more prominent warm hues coming through.
As each layer of colour is printed separately there can be some variation with the registration/alignment, making each of these prints one-of-a-kind.
And finally, what do you love most about working with print?!
We offer three types of print in-house - Risograph, Letterpress and Hot Foil. All three have a tactile nature that entice you handle and inspect the print.
There are also limitations to each of these print methods but rather than seeing this as restrictive we enjoy the challenge of producing a finished item that celebrates the process and materials as well as the artwork/design.
We enjoy working with organisations and individuals who understand that print is part of the creative process and allow us the freedom to do just that.
Receive your very own limited edition print or book by donating to the Wafaa Bilal crowfunder, here. All proceeds go towards purchasing replacement books for the University of Baghdad College of Fine Art Library.
Make sure you also check out more of Jot Paper Co.’s work on their website, www.jotpaperco.com and @jotpaperco.