Risomania is a book I wanted to read as soon as I heard that it would be published. Having ordered it on Amazon I have been waiting for delivery for nearly half a year (I bought the English edition in advance), as soon as I unpacked it, I was sure it was worth the wait.
Risomania is the first attempt to comprehensively describe the contemporary Riso scene. The author, John Z. Komurki, focuses on the history and evolution of risograph and reveals what is today in the world most interesting in Riso print. Since the knowledge is practically unknown in Poland, and Riso itself is gaining in popularity, Risomania is an invaluable tool for building print awareness in native graphic enthusiasts.
The book is divided into several parts. We start with a historical feature related to stencil printing, which allows us to understand where the Riso phenomenon comes from. In this case, the print technology equates to a specific machine, the author acquainted us with the evolution of the risograph and the milestones that led to the fact that today it is one of the most popular working methods among self-publishers.
After we have sorted out historical informations, we go to the next, super interesting part. John Z. Komurki meets us with pioneers and innovators and draw their portraits. In the book we will find interviews with Jo Franken, head of Charles Nyples Lab. If you have not heard about this studio yet, it’s really time to catch up. This workshop is one of the epicenters of the global RISO movement and a source of many innovations in this technique. In addition, we will find an interview with Knust Publishing, pioneers of Dutch art publications and template printing. It turns out that Benelux is the world capital of Riso.
The book would be incomplete if there was no illustrative material. One must admit that the diverse gallery of selected prints gives a good impression of the specific aesthetics of Riso and in which areas the artists are most likely to move.
It is also interesting to note that in the book we found the prints of Pawel Mildner, our colleague and one of our favorite illustrators. Paul himself did not know that his work was reproduced in the book (artwork printed by We Make It – Berlin studio) – I think he should have a free copy from the publisher, right?
By the way – artists. The book also presents a specific phenomenon, typical for graphics. Artistic activity is closely related to a workshop understood as a workshop and equipment. It is hard for us to list the names of individual artists associated with Riso, but in front of our eyes are the brands of the studio and the societies around them. I think it is a very interesting feature of modern graphics, in which the community and the social character of print play very important role.
In the end we find a bit weaker section, where you’ll find instructions for preparing projects on Riso and index of selected studios. Unless you are close to this topic, it will definitely be worth it. For those who already have some experience with Riso, this chapter will not bring something new and the internet will remain a more valuable source of knowledge.
In summary, I have to say again, that this publication is an absolute must-have for anyone who is interested in modern forms of print or publishing design. Risomania has no counterpart, it is a unique book. Definitely – worth to buy!
Visual artist working with artbooks and prints.
He’s also Oficyna Peryferie founder and assistant professor at Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw (Poland).