On the Risograph

I wrote this brief essay for an impromptu exhibition I had at VCFA of assorted posters I’ve made over the past few years in 2012.


Life is not tidy. Every individual is constrained by the expected hours of their day that comprise their life. If you are interested in writing, you must make the time to write. If you seek to do engaging design projects outside of commercial or cultural practice, you must make the time to cultivate that practice.

Since 2009, I have made it a point to create one poster every 90 days, print 1000 copies to 5000 copies, and distribute them freely throughout Tokyo. These posters, constrained to A3 – an industrial format comparable to 11″ X 17″ in the United States (an odd and idiosyncratic format that does not fit with the International Standards Organization’s proscribed international paper size formats) – have been created outside of the boundaries of typical practice.

They are design without clients. A URL and series number are included for cataloging purposes, not for promotion. The series has included a widespread attempt at sampling the  vernacular of Japanese commercial art, ranging from outright theft and re-assemblage of imagery to mimicry of indigenous forms of Japanese modern design to cultural critiques, herein represented in the narrow range of spiritual beliefs of cult-like belief systems that have been widespread throughout Japan.

This is a very limited sampling of what has been created over the past five years. They are here for you to take freely and use as you will.

Graphic Design has experienced an insurgence of the popularization of dated reprographic technology, notably the Risograph, a relatively small-scale printing system that utilizes stencil-based printing in lieu of more common photocopier technology.

The Risograph is a Japanese product manufactured by the Riso Kagaku Corporation, yet whose aesthetic has been co-opted and popularized within Graphic Design culture by establishments in Great Britain and Germany but whose usage is most prevalent within community centers and senior citizens centers within Japan.

How we print has a history. It has a heritage. It is an unacknowledged heritage. It is an unexplored heritage. In essence, it is a colonial heritage in the post-colonial age – taking from other cultures and acknowledging little beyond a footnote or a colophon.

Aesthetics always have an origin.