Learning How to Print Risograph Artwork with RISOTOPIA's Kevin Garrison


A Day in Kevin Garrison’s RISOTOPIA Studio

When Kevin invited me over for an afternoon in his risograph studio, I was over the moon. Kevin is the founder of RISOTOPIA, a Kansas City-based design and micro printing studio. He operates RISOTOPIA as a passion project and creates stacks of colorful riso prints in his free time.

Kevin is also a good friend of mine. I began my career under his art direction at Willoughby Design. He’s an incredibly talented designer, illustrator, and mentor.

It’s been inspiring to watch Kevin’s riso journey take off. With risographs, he’s found an outlet into which to channel his creative energy. (And he has a lot of creative energy.)

Kevin is incredibly generous with his time and resources. He’s known for inviting friends and colleagues over to his studio so they can learn about risographs and create their own masterpiece. I was thrilled to get an invite!


How Risograph Printing works:

Risograph printing is most similar to silk screen printing– both use a layering technique to produce multi-colored prints one ink color at a time. Riso printing was established in Japan back in the 80s as a means of producing affordable high-volume photocopying and printing. More recently, it’s seen a resurgence by the art community; the technique has been appropriated by artists as a high-speed, low-cost alternative to silk screen printing.


Step 1: Design your illustration and separate ink colors into individual layers.


Step 2: Print lightest color first


Step 3: Print second color. That spot color packs a punch!


Step 4: Print last ink: metallic gold! The registration isn’t perfect, but that’s the beauty of riso printing.


We received a warm welcome!

We received a warm welcome!

The glorious riso wall.

The glorious riso wall.

RISOTOPIA is based in my hometown of Kansas City. Nearly every visible space of the walls are adorned with gorgeous riso prints. While the majority are created by founder Kevin Garrison, there are also plenty of art prints that are designed by his friends and colleagues from all over Kansas City.


Some of my absolute favorite RISOTOPIA designs:

My Riso Project:


I wanted to turn one of my favorite digital illustrations into a risograph. I illustrated this volcano after an entrepreneur retreat on the island of Stromboli, Italy.

Stromboli is a small island in the Tyrrhenian Sea. What makes it so special is that the entire island is one big active volcano. It erupts every fifteen minutes, giving it the nickname, “Lighthouse of the Mediterranean”.

I had an incredible experience at the retreat and created this illustration as a souvinir of my experience.


MASSIVE thank you to RISOTOPIA’S own Kevin Garrison!