Things are coming together for my upcoming zine with the very talented and devilishly handsome Ben Madgwick and Tom Moran. We are working together to inspire and push each other to make more personal work. We want to make that work both better in quality and a more central part of our practice as photographers. It's important to us that this creative collaboration results in something tangible, to allow us a break from our digital promotional activities and give us something physical to hold and share. To this end the first piece that we are making is a small run risograph zine featuring some of our existing personal work. We are using a risograph as production costs are low and the aesthetic is low-fi, punchy and authentic, in that it allows us to control the process and tailor it to our needs. (It helps that my sister just just bought one... Having our printing press situated less than 3m from where I am sitting can't be beaten for convenience either!). The above image is the first spread in "The Book". It gets passed between us every time we meet and whoever has The Book, has to add work to it, before it gets passed on again.
The risograph is essentially as automatic, magical, screen printing box. It was originally made in Japan to rival the laser printer for speed and economic running costs for organisations that needed to produce large runs of printed material, such as church groups, government departments and political parties, but has since been co-opted by artists and zine makers looking for a cheap and fun way to distribute their work. It has a limited colour palette and a unique aesthetic with slight print to print variations.
Ben holds a sheet printed in blue ink as we experiment with overlaying blue and black print runs to retain subtle transitions in the highlights with depth in the shadows. The sunglasses indicate how seriously we value both health and safety and looking on point at all times...
Tom shoots some of our favourites from the test sheets, while demonstrating his impeccable shooting posture (something that has made him much in demand). The main downside to the riso process is that it absolutely murders any environmental aspirations that you might have had, as it spits out amazonian qualities of test pages on dead tree slices. This angle makes the studio look relatively orderly but just out of frame to the right is a perilous drift of failed experiments.
Above and below show a selection of the various processes and papers that we tried, working to maximise print quality while staying as close as possible to the spirit of the original images.
Work on the zine is ongoing and we are hoping to have the first edition out in the world by mid April. Updates to follow...
(all printed images are by Tom and Ben, Instax images and WIP shots by me)