Interview: Hato Press

Established in 2009, Hato Press started as a support structure to offer affordable means of production to others. Purchasing a risograph machine to publish their own books led to printing jobs for a lot of their friends.

Comprising of Hato Press, a printing and publishing house; Studio Hato, a design studio specialising in publications & education, and its newest member Hato Labo, an interactive design studio, the group offer a range of services, alongside exhibitions and workshops.

Hato Press are just one of our Glug Birmingham sponsors, and will be printing our event programme – a double sided, two-colour riso fold-up flyer, featuring an exclusive poster designed by Glug speaker Alex Fowkes! More Notworking than Networking™ Glug Birmingham will feature six creative talks, art stalls and live painting at Fazeley Studios in Digbeth on August 21st! Perfect for creatives, illustrators and digital folk, tickets are just £7.50. Read more about the event here.

In the meantime here’s a little insight into Hato Press and the ever popular print technique of Risograph.

Tell us about Hato and your focus on risograph? Why do you like this print process?

Hato is thought of as an autonomous experimental space to encourage collaborators to develop ideas and facilitate both the production and distribution of new content. Risograph is a simple but brilliant tool for people who want to publish their own work. It quickly became integrated within our design practice. Of course we were already heavily involved with other printing techniques but we were interested in having autonomy over the production of our ideas, and it allowed us to understand a printing process and manipulate it as a tool for ourselves and our design clients. We enjoy exploring the notion of a printing press as an educational tool through our residencies and workshops which is something we are pursuing as part of the Edgware Road project, a programme initiated by the Serpentine Gallery London and lecturing at universities and programming workshops.

We were interested in having autonomy over the production of our ideas, and [specialising in riso] allowed us to understand a printing process and manipulate it as a tool for ourselves and our design clients.

We realised that running a printing press could be a way for us to survive under our own economy, as design jobs were hard to come by [at the time] as well as give us the opportunity to meet a lot of new and interesting people.

How do you operate and what services do you provide?

Economically speaking the riso press was set up purely to support our studio space as well as a very small part of our living. We had made this decision at a very early stage which we felt was fair for ourselves and also those that we would print for, our return was not financially driven but the idea of something we enjoyed running which supported our studio space was sufficient for us. This also meant those who we would print for were able to access affordable production techniques. Today the press now supports its space as well as Jordan, Justin and our interns who run Hato Press, our prices haven’t really increased just the amount of jobs. We also now offer a range of finishing in house.

How many of you currently work there / run the space?

There are 2-4 of us running the printing press. Whilst 5 of us are in the design studios.

Aesthetically its warmth colour is something difficult to replace, but its also the accessibility for young designers and studios. Its a really affordable method of production and therefore allows a lot of experimentation. Of course there are various restrictions, such as not being able to print on glossy or silk papers but these restrictions only make the process more creative. It forces the artist or designer to really delve into uncoated paper stocks, for which there are hundreds! And find papers that really add a new context to the project.

Explain the process of Risograph printing – how are artwork files prepared, printed and fed back into the printer?

This is pretty straight forward, when a client sends his artwork over, we will check it for any obvious problems. Given everything is good, we then put his artwork onto a printing template and add the necessary crop marks and registration marks. We export the artwork as a PDF and send it through to get printed. It undergoes the same process as litho printing but its a little more flexible and hands on as were only dealing with A3 plates.

What are the basic tools required to produce a Risograph print – hardware, ink, paper stock, materials etc.

  • Computer
  • Risograph machine
  • Print drum
  • Ink
  • Paper
  • Guillotine
  • And you also need a lot of space to put all these materials.
  • We also have folding and binding machines for making books

Describe the colour limitations with Risograph – are there any popular colour combinations?

Risograph is a spot colour process, there are roughly twenty-odd different colours available. So if you want a colour outside of that spectrum you have to reproduce it by overprinting different colours together. It is not an exact science but this method of reproducing colours have resulted in some interesting and beautiful outcomes. Over the past few years we’ve found that red and black are the most popular colour combination.

Have you observed a rise in popularity in this type of printing? Why do think this might be?

We have definitely seen a rise in popularity in Risograph printing in recent years, we think that is mainly due to more people knowing about this particular method of production. When we first started in 2009, hardly anyone knew about it. Even now, it is still a relatively new and obscure production technique when compared to other printing methods. Also the rise in digital marketing and self publishing rather than killing print has put more of an emphasis on its printed counterpart. When designers and agencies are after something that is much more bespoke and tactile, the risograph along with other printing processes fit this really well.

List the main advantages to this print technique over others out there?

Environmentally friendly. Economical. Quick. Affordable. The results are quite unique as well and experimenting on it is super fun!

Excerpts from this interview appear in Get Started with Risograph printing published by Creative Bloq, May 2014.



Posted on Jul 22nd, 14 by

Greg McIndoe - also known as Headless Greg - is an illustrator and design writer based in Glasgow, Scotland. He regularly writes for design magazines and online platforms, interviewing fellow illustrators and leading creatives.

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