Pitchfork’s art and culture journal, Nothing Major, has posted a three part series in which they discuss the rise of Risograph printing. We were delighted to be interviewed about how the Service Bureau utilizes our machine and show off some work we have printed.

Vote poster designed by Kate Roger

Vote poster designed by Kate Roger

Check it out:

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago acquired a Risograph in summer of 2012. Since then, its popularity has steadily grown. “The silkscreened effect is very appealing to visual communication students but has also been catching on in the print department. For the time being, we have seen mostly posters as well as business cards being run on it,” says Meaghan Manuel, SAIC service bureau manager. All enrolled students, alumni, staff, and faculty of SAIC are able to submit files to the machine which is housed in the SAIC’s service bureau.

Read the entire article over at Nothing Major. 


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Here in the AOC we see a lot of projects using laser-cut birch plywood (like Jeff’s ukulele posted a while back). It’s relatively inexpensive, durable, and looks nice.

But for those of you who feel the need to get closer to the material (i.e. put stuff in your mouth), Chris Reilly has recently published a volley of posts that might open up some new possibilities. Check out these three beautifully documented projects:

1. How to use food coloring for ultrabright color stains

2. How to make food safe wood sealer

3. How to build a “Linguaphone of Tremulous Communion”

Remember, if you’re going for food-safe, sand down the burnt edges using the belt and drum sanders at your local wood shop. Nobody wants a mouthful of ash.

All this talk of food and lasers reminds me of Ector Garcia’s laser-cut tortilla experiment. Also, this:

Ok, go make stuff!

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The newest product from Hasbro will have a huge influence on how children get introduced to technology we use at the school. The Play-doh 3d printer is probably one of the coolest things I’ve seen. The 3d printer will use Play-doh and hand cranked power to extrude Play-doh into an object. With an iPad app it makes it even easier. It’s available starting today exclusively at ThinkGeek.com and it’s only $49.99! I went ahead and bought one for myself.














































The internet has been buzzing over Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk  this past February about the art of asking in which she highlights her early days as a street performer. But the talk I am most anticipating is by Liu Bolin in which, over the course of his presentation, he is painted into the background of the stage. The time-lapse is fascinating:

Liu Bolin timelapse at TED2013 from TED Blog on Vimeo.

I can’t even see him in the final image!

Bolin’s response to what an artist’s work stands for during an interview with Thu-Huong Ha for the TED Blog was particularly interesting:

“There’s a difference between Chinese artwork and foreign artwork. As a Chinese artist, I ask a lot of questions about society in my work. When I am abroad, though — for example when I went to the Louvre — because I’m usually overwhelmed by my artwork, I have to make art as a souvenir. The TED piece is more of the latter, a form of memory or a souvenir. This year I have a new plan. I think the TED stage will be the highlight of my new series, Happy New City. In the future I will create new kinds of art. My talk was as a summary to conclude what I’ve done before.”

I am interested to see the presentation and what Liu Bolin does next.

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Image source: Imperfecthouse.wordpress.com

We get a lot of students asking if we can make notepads. Unfortunately, the way our Perfect Binding machine works, we can’t. But if you are willing to put a little extra time and effort into a project, you can make your own notepad with Lineco Pad Compound! Lineco Pad Compound is a low tack adhesive that dries clear. Just hold your paper together with binder clips, apply a thin layer of the compound on one side, let dry, and presto! Instant custom made note pad. There are tons of ways you can use a pad compound- a neat way to keep business cards organized, notepads with your contact info or a logo, a quick and easy way to make a flip book. The Service Bureau can even cut your paper to size before you bind it!

Happy making,


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One of our friendly/talented student employees, Jeff, found this design for a lasercut ukulele on Thingiverse.



He put this together in a few hours using scrap materials and some bits from a hardware store.


This is a full-on legitimate instrument, which actually sounds better than most ukuleles I’ve played. Time to make my own…

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Chris Thorpe from The Flexiscale Company has a pretty amazing Kickstarter campaign going on right now. He and his team are taking 3d scan data from various rail engines on the Ffestiniog Railway and producing 3d printed kits. The goal is to create highly detailed plastic models exactly as the engines exist today.

The campaign still has a little under 2 days left before it ends. This is definitely an awesome example of what you can do, using the same technology we have here at the school. For more information on our technology, head over to the Advanced Output Center.

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One the most fascinating things about people is our capacity to change and adapt. This is true on both fundamental and theoretical levels; time changes us all. Things that are important now, may be inconsequential in a year’s time. I Used to Be a Design Student: 50 Graphic Designers Then and Now by Billy Kiosoglou and Philippin Frank explores this element of change through the lens of graphic design by comparing the lifestyles of 50 graphic designers from their college years to now.

Comprised of interviews, work samples and comparative diagrams, the book illustrates the idiosyncrasies between college life and professional life. The work samples compare pieces from the designer’s time in college and current work, and each interview offers up a piece of advice and a warning.

I particularly like Richard Walker’s advice:

“Always finish your work”

and warning:

“Don’t feel obliged to have an opinion on everything. If you don’t know, say you don’t know.”

From the publisher:

“This book offers a rare chance to read what graphic designers feel about their education and profession. Fifty influential designers give the low-down about their student days and their professional lives. A piece of their college work is shown alongside an example of current work. Each designer also offers a key piece of advice and a warning, making this a must-read for anyone embarking on a career in design.

The book looks at the process a designer goes through in finding their ‘voice’. Topics addressed include how ideas are researched and developed; design and other cultural influences, then and now; positive and negative aspects of working as a designer; motivations for becoming a designer; and whether it’s really possible to teach design.”

UPDATE: The book is now available for checkout at the Flaxman Library.

(via Brain Pickings)

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We’ve seen a lot of great things printed on our Risograph MZ1090 since making its debut here at the Bureau, and this is one we just had to share…

Don't Sweat It Poster

Ink: fluorescent pink & black, Paper: Glo-tone Yellow Light Text

We ran this poster for Luke Pelletier, an SAIC student and regular Bureau customer and thought it just looked awesome! Instead of relying on the Riso’s halftones, Luke made his own, giant halftone and printed it with the “Line” setting. Its a really clever way to work around the Riso’s fixed halftone sizes. If you’re thinking about doing something similar, just remember, don’t ask for a halftone setting on your already halftoned file, it will make the print too light.

Don’t Sweat it opens March 8th at Galerie F, 2338 N Milwaukee Ave. If the poster is any indication, this should be a great show. Go see some art!


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Lately I’ve been obsessed with parametric designs. They harness the power of digital fabrication, allowing anyone to tweak a design for their own purposes, regardless of their background.

One exciting new source of parametric designs is Thingiverse. If you haven’t seen Thingiverse yet, welcome to the party! For several years now it’s been an active community of users who upload designs for 3D printing, laser cutting, and other forms of fabrication. A new feature allows designers to upload parametric files which can then be edited in the browser by other users.

No code skills required!

You can create an account and start making derivatives within a few minutes. The first design I printed was a pair of  these “Customizable Word Rings” by kataze, which lets you edit text, finger size, and a few dimensions. After putting in your parameters just download your STL and pretty soon you’ll be looking rather fly!

Here’s my version (inspired by Radio Raheem):

"Newest latest…"

Currently all of the parametric designs use the 3D scripting language OpenSCAD. Designers upload scripts to Thingiverse and quickly create a UI for tweaking variables. If you’ve never written code, maybe this will inspire you to learn! You could dive right into OpenSCAD if you want to, but I recommend getting started with the Processing tutorials at Khan Academy.

The future is fresh.

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