What is your risograph origin story? When did you first encounter risograph? I assume you were interested in printmaking before you discovered riso printing.
I studied printmaking, primarily screenprinting, at OCAD in Toronto. After graduating I did a residency at AS220 in Providence, RI, where I got to learn how to use a small offset press. While I was there I visited Mickey Zacchilli and saw a riso for the first time. I think I had a vague idea of what they were but when I saw one working for the first time it blew me away. At that time it perfectly encapsulated what I loved about screenprinting and what I wanted to get out of offset printing, but it was so much easier to handle in terms of costs, materials, and space. As soon as I got home from the residency, I was on the lookout for a used riso and soon after I went splits on one with Patrick Kyle and Michael Deforge.
I've noticed risograph printers have "meet ups", little fairs and conventions. I imagine it is like any other subculture - however this one interests me because of the direct connection to book making. It reminds me of zine culture and comics fandom in a way. Can you speak to how risograph printers are different than other printers beyond obvious differences in materials?
I think a large number of riso printers probably have some background in self publishing, printmaking, comics or whatever, experiences that give us an appreciation of the process and how accessible and easy it is to use. Riso is sometimes looked down on by other printers because of the way the ink dries, the resolution, the misregistration etc. but as artists and designers ourselves, we come to this medium with an understanding of it's limitations and are eager to explore and push those limits.
I'm opening a show tonight in Elmhurst, IL, just outside of Chicago. It's called Kings & Queens: Pinball, Imagists and Chicago.
Here's the blurb:
Elmhurst Art Museum proudly presents Kings & Queens: Pinball, Imagists and Chicago, an examination of the intertwined histories of two of Chicago’s greatest exports: pinball and Imagist painting. Curated by Dan Nadel, this interactive exhibition invites guests to play pinball on Chicago-designed and built pinball machines from the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s—including machines manufactured by Elmhurst's Gottlieb family—alongside paintings, sculptures and prints also made in Chicago in the same period. Kings & Queens: Pinball, Imagists and Chicago will feature works by Roger Brown, Ed Flood, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Ed Paschke, Christina Ramberg, Suellen Rocca, Barbara Rossi, Karl Wirsum and Ray Yoshida; pinball machines including Kings & Queens, Old Chicago, Fireball, Duotron, Gorgar, and Blackout, featuring art by the likes of Roy Parker, Gordon Morison, Dave Christensen, Doug Watson and Constantino Mitchell, who will also exhibit original pinball backglass paintings, some for games never produced. The exhibition will be on display from February 25 – May 7, 2017.
Most of the world’s finest pinball machines were made in Chicago's North Side factories, and many of those were manufactured by Elmhurst residents, the Gottlieb family, and designed and illustrated by local Chicago artists. As those machines reached the apex of pictorial and engineering ingenuity, the artists now known as the Imagists were finding their unique visual style with inspiration from many vernacular sources including the arcades and Riverview Park. Pinball provided inspiration with its high contrast coloration, absurd juxtapositions and ultra-flat forms. Pinball was but one inspiration for these artists, along with the city’s many color storefronts and the enormously popular Riverview Park. This exhibition also contains photographs of Chicago in those years, as recorded by some of these same artists. Kings & Queens is inspired by Imagist painter Ed Paschke’s 1982 pinball exhibition, Flip! Flash! Pinball Art!, at the Chicago Cultural Center, which featured a wide selection of pinball machines from previous three decades.
A selection of the imagist pieces featured in Kings & Queens: Pinball, Imagists and Chicago are on loan courtesy of the Elmhurst College. The Elmhurst College Art Collection is a collection that focuses on artists working in Chicago between about 1950 and the present, with a special focus on the Imagists. The full collection is housed in the A.C. Buehler Library on the Elmhurst College campus.
Kings & Queens: Pinball, Imagists and Chicago reveals a new view of both the city and some of its finest exports with major works on loan courtesy of private collectors and institutions including the Illinois State Museum, Elmhurst College and the Roger Brown Study Collection.