︎︎︎ For examples of past jobs, see here.

 What is risograph printing? 

We print on a machine called the risograph, or riso. Initially invented in Tokyo in 1986, it was popularized regionally in schools and churches for its capacity to copy one thing many times, relatively cheaply. Since then, the risograph has become a popular printing method in printmaking and art book fair worlds, for the signature look it produces. Soy or rice bran-based, riso ink is translucent (offering layering possibilities), never fully dries, and easily translates bright pigments like fluorescent pinks and oranges.

Think of the risograph as an office printer lookalike that contains screenprinting mechanics. The printing mechanism is called a drum, and the negative of your desired image (also called a “master,” or “parent”) is heat-transferred onto rice paper, creating a stencil through which ink is pushed onto paper, as it’s quickly fed through the duplicator.

We have come to love the riso for the ways it encourages us to embrace imperfections and traces of the process. Because of the speed of feeding, and the liveness of the ink, expect risograph printing to yield roller marks (faint tracks down the center of the page, where the roller feeding the paper makes contact with the ink). Since we print with one color drum at a time, we layer images color by color (think screenprinting rather than inkjet printing). The way the colors align, and the edges match, is called “registration” — expect some discrepancies there.

 Who do you serve?

We are open to any print jobs, both from individuals and from arts & community organizations. We will always give priority to job requests from queer and trans people of color, particularly Black and Indigenous people. We are invested in providing print services to artists and writers without institutional access to print and production. We also (slowly) publish work ourselves, and with collaborators.

 How much & How long?

Expect cost to depend on: number of pages, how many of each object (edition size), number of colors, type of paper, and any additional services (design, folding, binding). For print services, we can break down design, printing, and finishing (folding, binding) fees. We will offer an initial quote before any work begins.

Print services (without design): at least 2 weeks!

Publishing/collaborations: expect longer, depending on all of our capacities, and the complexity and care the collaboration requires. We’ve published submission-based zines within 1 month, produced new collaborative work in 6 months, and developed grant-funded projects up to a year.

Currently, we are a team of 3, with 1 of our editors living in Philly part-time. We are also strung between school, part-time work, and gigs as they come. In other words, much as we wish, printing is not our “full-time” job, but a part-time joy.

What is the difference between print service and publishing service?

We are open to providing print services to all, with priority given to QTBIPOC. This means you are hiring us to print (and if you like, design and finish) your work — such as posters, flyers, booklets.

When we publish work as Many Folds Press, we often help develop the idea into print. We may or may not be responsible for distribution — it’s up for discussion. We also decide together how to split what we make in a way that feels fair — whether that means sharing profits from sales, sharing inventory, and/or sharing labor.

Tell me more specifics!

COLOR: We currently have 6 color drums: Red, Blue, Black, Light Gray, Sunflower, and Lime. We can also layer these at varying opacities, to create in-between colors and shades. Click below for a closer look!:

For choosing color-blind accessible colors for text, we recommend consulting this color chart.

FINISHING: We can fold! We also currently offer these binding options: staple, wire-bound, saddle-stitch.

PAPER: We can print on uncoated paper no thinner than 20lb text-weight computer paper, and no thicker than 80lb cardstock. Keep in mind: since our ink is translucent, the color paper you choose will also affect the color of the ink — this makes for more combinations of possibilities and designs, but also we wouldn’t recommend printing yellow ink on yellow paper, etc. The largest dimension we can print on is 11x17 inches. Consider: the risograph will force a margin of ⅛ inch, even if your file is full-bleed. If you’d like a full-bleed print, your file should be no larger than 10 ½ x 16 ½ inches, so we can cut to size.

MINIMUMS: Keep in mind that we may apply minimums for certain requests, and will very rarely print an edition under 20. The more you get printed, the less each print will cost. We can help you workshop your edition size based on your budget.

What are you excited to print?

We think about print as a means of gathering information, so as to gather communities. In this spirit, we are excited to print matter that shares information — like resource guides. As we experiment and get more of a sense of the eminent possibilities of print, we’re excited to make printed matter into interesting forms, especially if they have a double-life as art and as a functional object. Posters and flyers are welcome! To see examples of past jobs we’ve printed, visit our jobs page.

What can’t you print?

We don’t have the time or fine craft attention to print or publish fine artist books. We also do not print full-color CMYK photos. There are many riso studios who can and do — this is just not where our training or our interest lies. 

Do you offer open hours? Can I come print at your shop?

Currently, our shop is based at a live/work studio on a 3rd floor walkup. Due to these space constraints and ongoing COVID navigations, we cannot offer open hours. In other words, our services are limited to things we print, for you. If you’re excited/eager to learn our process, we do welcome pitches for collaborative projects. Please email us at printingfortunes@gmail.com