Riso as an Artform

Is Riso an artform?

Riso printing is a unique and charming printing method that has gained a following among artists and collectors. Riso machines, also known as Risograph duplicators, were originally designed for producing large quantities of copies, making them a popular choice for commercial printing in the past.

However, Riso prints are far from being simple copies. They are the result of a complex process that involves mixing a selection of inks, colors, and designs, and often come with flaws and imperfections that give them a unique and personal feel. Each print is the result of multiple unique print cycles, and the choices made by the printer on the spot, next to the machine, contribute to the final result.

In many ways, Riso prints can be compared to Polaroid pictures. Both have their place in a modern world, and both come with imperfections and vintage appeal. A Polaroid picture is also unique compared to a digital picture, and the same goes for Riso prints. The Riso process is dirty and time-consuming, but it has a place in a fast and modern world, offering a charming and unwinding alternative to traditional printing methods.

At Arties , we use a 20-year-old RISO RA4200 duplicator to create our Riso prints. This machine does not have any computers handling the process, and each separate color print has to be set and calibrated manually to achieve the desired result. This can be very time-consuming and requires a lot of preparation. The final number of prints is determined by the amount of good prints left after manually cycling each paper through the machine for each color. The surviving designs on 180gr paper are the ones that are left. After each project, the machine destroys the master, making it impossible to make an identical print in the future.

But is it art?

Many people debate whether Riso prints can be considered art. At Arties, we believe that art is subjective and it is up to each individual to decide what they consider to be art.

Regardless of how you define art, Riso prints are certainly affordable to collect, easy to store, and come in many forms to discover, such as art zines, screen prints, and collages. They offer a unique and personal aesthetic that is unlike any other printing method, and their imperfections and flaws contribute to their charm and appeal.

If you're interested in exploring the world of Riso prints, why not create a collection for yourself to enjoy during a relaxing moment on your couch? Whether you consider them to be art or not, Riso prints are sure to provide a unique and enjoyable experience. 


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Arties BV

Jozef de Hasquestraat 7
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