About Riso

What is Riso? Basically it's a screen printing process all happening inside a giant copy machine, making it super easy to create beautiful prints quickly.

Riso is a company from Japan that was started as an economical way to mimeograph print using soy-based oils. They released their stencil making device in the 1980's and began selling to schools and businesses in the late 80's, marketed as a low energy, easy to use copy printer. Soon, art book publishers and comic artists began using it as an easy way to distribute their work quickly and beautifully, and now it's exploded into a print renaissance!

Riso is a fast, fun, but imperfect style of printing that allows creators to efficiently create vibrant, textured prints, no matter the subject. Printing is done one color at a time, changing out the color drums if another color needs to be added. One of my favorite parts of the Riso is seeing the results of printing one ink color on top of another color on the paper to get new colors and palettes.

In my studio I have access to nine Riso ink colors: fluorescent pink, yellow, blue, federal blue, kelly green, orchid, aqua, fluorescent orange and scarlet red. Lately I've been mainly using three colors to create a faux CMYK effect with different colors. Riso inks mix well and I kind of paint with the colors to make full colored prints out of just a few options. 

Environmentally friendly ~ The way Riso is able to layer colors so well is because of a combination of the natural oil inks that are specific to Riso as well as the random dot generation in the screens (or Masters) that the ink is pushed through onto the paper. The archival inks are ecologically responsible by reducing waste and CO2 in the manufacturing process and the Masters are made out of natural fibers as well! Another special thing about Riso is that there's no heat process involved, so it's a very energy efficient way of printing. All around Riso is a pretty great alternative to traditional copy printing, as it's more environmentally friendly on several fronts. 

There is so much that Riso opens up and makes possible for artists to use as an art form. It makes replicating and distributing artwork easy, and creates satisfying textures and colors that are rare for digital printing. It's also easy to use! With step by step instructions printed on the machine, it's very accessible to anyone new to using a copy machine.  

Natalie + Riso ~ Natalie has been working with various Riso machines since 2013- on friends machines, in community spaces, and now on her own EZ 590U in her studio. She was an Artist in Residence at the SVA RisoLAB in 2016 and attended a residency in Kofu, Japan in 2019 creating a new body of Riso printed work with ink colors unaccessible in the US.

She likes to share her love of Riso in workshops and demos around the world and she made an online workshop where she discusses everything Riso with Gallery Nucleus that you can check out here. 

In Spring 2024, she taught a weeklong Riso workshop in Denmark at VIA University and regularly hosts workshops in other cities with Riso friends. She sometimes teaches live workshops out of her studio in Atwater Village, LA. 

Follow her work on social media or patreon for updates on new Riso work and workshops!