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Exploring Risograph printing: a niche in the world of art and publishing

Published: 24 Jun

Exploring Risograph Printing

Risograph printing, often shortened to Riso, is a unique printing technique that has captivated a niche audience of artists, small-scale magazine publishers, and designers. Its distinct aesthetic and environmentally friendly approach make it a favoured choice for specific types of projects and organisations. Read on as we delve into the history of Riso printing, understand its appeal, and explore the diverse groups that utilise this unique printing technology.

The history of Risograph printing

The story of Risograph printing begins in Japan in 1980. The Riso Kagaku Corporation, founded by Noboru Hayama, developed the Risograph as a cost-effective and high-speed duplicator. The technology was initially intended for high-volume office work, using soya-based inks and a stencilling method similar to screen printing but automated like a mimeograph.

The machine worked using a master stencil wrapped around an ink drum, which then pushed ink through the stencil onto paper as it passed underneath. This method allowed for rapid reproduction of images, making it highly efficient. Despite its commercial beginnings, the Riso eventually found a different calling among creatives due to its unique printing qualities.

Why creative people LOVE Risograph printing

Risograph printing holds a special place in the hearts of many creatives for several reasons:

  • Eco-friendly: Riso printers use soya-based inks and require less energy than traditional photocopiers and digital printers. This green aspect is appealing in our increasingly environmentally conscious society.
  • Cost-effectiveness: it is economical for medium to high-volume printing, making it accessible for artists and small organisations to produce works at a lower cost without sacrificing quality.
  • Distinct aesthetic: the Risograph is beloved for its unique character and vintage feel to prints. The vibrant colours available, which also can be overlaid to create new shades, allow for striking visuals.
  • Community and collaboration: the Riso process encourages a community-centric approach to printing. Artists and designers often share resources like Riso printers housed in communal studios, encouraging a collaborative environment.

Organisations that use Risograph printers

Riso printing has found its niche primarily among specific types of organisations and individuals:

  • Independent publishers and small-scale magazine creators: the affordability and the high output speed make Riso printers perfect for small-scale publishers who require limited runs with a handmade touch.
  • Educational institutions: schools and universities use Risograph printers for producing affordable teaching materials and encouraging students to experiment with printmaking techniques.
  • Political parties: the low-cost, high-volume capabilities are ideal for local politicians to disseminate information widely and quickly.
  • Churches: the Risograph is ideal for producing good quality church magazines within a tight budget.
  • Artists and designers: those specialising in prints, posters, and artworks value the Riso for its unique textures and the ability to experiment with different colour layers.
  • Community arts organisations: these groups often utilise Riso printing to engage communities in arts education and production, especially in areas where access to costly resources may be limited.


Risograph printing remains a favoured technique among a diverse array of users who appreciate its unique qualities, both aesthetic and practical.

Organisations that want to produce high-quality printed material quickly in-house, at affordable prices are soon won-over the Riso. And as more creators seek sustainable and cost-effective methods to express their artistic visions, the Riso stands out as a tool that marries the old with the new, the economical with the ecological, creating a space where art and pragmatism meet.

The world of Riso is not just about printing but about building a community that values creativity, collaboration, sustainability, and affordability.

Apple Office Equipment

If you would like to know more about Risograph printers and printing we can help. Visit our offices in Southampton for a demonstration, or we can show you a video of the machines in use if you are based further afield.

Choose from a new or professionally refurbished machine, plus a range of payment options to suit you.

CALL 023 8033 0611

Email sales@appleoffice.co.uk


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