Rise of the Risograph by Knuckles & Notch

Knuckles & Notch is a Design practice set up by three creatives, Djohan Hanapi, Marilyn Yunjin and Muhammad Izdi. Established earlier this year, the studio is positioned as an advocate of the arts in encouraging the exploration and development of the Risograph practice in a fine art context by providing a common platform for artists and designers to share and publish their works. We catch up with the Riso-loving trio and this is their story …

How did Knuckles & Notch come about?

It all began with a spark of an obsession. When Djohan discovered Risograph (Riso) at an NYC art book fair, the three of us were amazed by how vibrant the colours are compared to a product from a traditional ink jet machine. As soon as we realized how unique the outcome was, we were hooked.

Risograph is quite a new printing method in Singapore and there lies the value of it. We wanted to share how unique, inspiring and cost efficient Riso can be to our fellow local artists and designers and the best way to do so was by setting up a press and buying the machine. We sought out other presses in London, learned how they work with their Risograph machines and gathered samples. It took us two years to research and accumulate the capital to form our company. It was wild, stressful but simply exhilarating.

What’s the story behind the name ‘Knuckles and Notch’?

What we want to achieve is a great consistent quality of Risograph prints … always a “Notch” above the rest. “Knuckles” is a fun gesture when two people (us and our collaborators) agree with each other – like a high-five.

Why set up a Risograph press now?

Risograph machines have been around for years (mostly used by schools, churches and mosques) so we were surprised that the Risograph culture did not take off in the art and design industry. Risograph is very popular in the UK and the States so much so that it has become a normality for the art and design students, which is why we want students, art practitioners and designers to learn more about the beauty of Risograph.

How is a Risograph printer different from other printers?

Risograph produces a very rustic DIY look that other printers can’t replicate. The colours, texture and appearance can vary depending on the paper it’s printed on. Even the printing imperfections of the machine give a certain appeal. The inks are less expensive and easier to use than toner. The machine doesn’t require the high heats of photocopiers, meaning it uses less electricity. And finally, it requires less maintenance. It’s very simple and fast to change from one spot of colour to another. In other words, it is a revolutionary printing system for the modern age when people look for products and work with more uniqueness and ease of use. Can Riso replace other kinds of printers especially offset? We don’t think so. What we’re doing here is to introduce a different arsenal to the palette of printing techniques.

Who are your clients?

Most of our projects are with local artists and designers and we are working on predominantly art prints, posters and zines. We wouldn’t really call them our clients as we see each work as a collaboration.

Can’t wait to see more riso-printed work.

  • Lafille

    Sweet. I’ve always wondered if any of the indie art & design studios/collectives here in Singapore dabble in riso prints. Lots of studios in Japan use riso on the reg. for small zines and posters. Good to see it on the up and up!

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