• 51_01

    A Stack of Books

  • 51_04
  • 51_07

    A Stack of Books

  • 49_img0203

    La Tour Noire

  • 49_img0220

    La Tour Noire

  • 49_img0234

    La Tour Noire

  • 36_ultra-1

    Ultra Mera Commonplace

  • 36_ultra-4

    Ultra Mera Commonplace

  • 36_ultra-6

    Ultra Mera Commonplace

Publication

Urs Lehni of Rollo Press

Posted by Alex Moshakis,

Four years ago, to negate the unavoidable constraints of commercial work, Urs Lehni bought a Risograph GR 3770. The Zurich-based designer began to use the almost-forgotten printer as an outlet for personal projects, and has since published – with the help of many talented friends – a whole catalogue of books that collectively rubbish claims Risography is “over” as a design-industry fad. We asked Urs to confirm how and why Rollo Press came about, and what he has planned next…

Hi Urs, why did you set Rollo Press up?

It started in December 2007, after I had more or less accidentally purchased a Risograph printer. Lex Trueb and I had worked on some lengthy and very exhausting commissions, and in reaction we began to look for our own means of production in order to be able to produce printed matter in a more spontaneous way. Initially I just had a photocopier in mind, but when I saw Dot Dot Dot No. 15 and read that the issue was produced on a stencil printer — a technique I had never heard of — I decided to research a little more. Astonishingly I found a very old but cheap machine from a Swiss printing house that was to be closed down, and I decided to give it a try.

As the machine is rather easy to handle, it didn’t take me too long to figure out what could be done with it, and I contacted a few friends whose work I liked and proposed the idea of publishing some of it. In that manner we produced the first Rollo publication — the Lousy Animals and Friends Coloring Book by Hamburg-based Stefan Marx — almost immediately after I purchased the machine.

Do you only publish the work of friends?

I always used the term “friends and accomplices” to make clear that Rollo Press is neither a commercial project nor a cheap copy shop, but a rather private publishing project where everything is done in a way that we — the makers — consider to be healthy. However, this doesn’t mean that I’m only publishing work by friends. In several cases the story reversed – friendships have been established through publishing the work of someone I didn’t know. I hadn’t known Erik van der Weijde before he approached me with the proposal for This is Not my Son, for example. But I immediately agreed, and later Erik came to Zürich for a couple of days, stayed at my place and together we produced the book.

What are your thoughts on Riso printing as a fad?

On the one hand I think it’s great to see so many (graphic) designers share the same kind of enthusiasm, energy and will to produce projects under similar circumstances: self-initiated, self-organised, self-financed, etc. It seems to me that this field has a lot of extra energy — or maybe also a lot of frustration — and to run a small press seems to serve as the perfect offset to channel that energy.

However, what I’m quite critical about is the fact that Riso printing has became a rather fixed model tied to a certain aesthetic in a very short amount of time. In my view, the outcomes of a lot of these types of presses look very much alike, and in many cases the Riso printer is used more like a Photoshop filter, in order to add a certain chic. Also, every now and then I’m wondering what would happen if we would manage to find a way of combining all these scattered small initiatives instead of everybody working in his own niche?

What’s next for Rollo?

There are a few publications to be released soon, which have been on my desk for a very long time. One of them is a book that we produced in collaboration with my brother, Jürg, about his infamous robot Hektor. Another one is a series of photocopy prints made by Sigmar Polke (Revolutionsdrucke), that Stefan Marx and I turned into a book on site of the Hamburger Kunstverein in conjunction with an exhibition Stefan had there. And, maybe most importantly, Erik van der Weijde and I are trying to raise funds for a sequel of This is Not my Son, this time called This is Not my Wife. We would like to produce bigger numbers, and are therefore working with an offset printer. Erik came up with the idea to test crowd funding and has created a site here. So if any of you readers feel like contributing some dollars to our new project we would be more than happy!

Portrait8

Posted by Alex Moshakis

Alex originally joined It’s Nice That as a designer but moved into editorial and oversaw the It’s Nice That magazine from Issue Six (July 2011) to Issue Eight (March 2012) before moving on that summer.

Most Recent: Publication View Archive

  1. Lencroyable-itsnicethat-main

    We’ve seen a lot of themed magazines recently. People having a whack at creating publications based around one topic or idea, a little like risky concept albums. Slightly less honed-in than, say, the magazine for redheads, dogs, or cats, this new glossy bi-annual from Paris is themed around adolescence. Created by designer and artist Clotilde Viannay and art directed by Raphaël Garnier, the magazine is centred around one big name – in this issue it is Juliette Greco – who is interviewed about her life, predominantly that sticky awkward bit around the teenage years, to see how it shaped her future.

  2. Mrc1-itsnicethat-main

    Last week redheads all over the world got really hacked off at the announcement of a bunch of new ethnically-diverse Emojis on the iPhone, angered that the flame-haired 2% of the world is still being underrepresented, nay disrespected. In the same week, MagCulture announced its faultless magazine of the week feature bearing a new publication entitled MC1R: A magazine for redheads.

  3. Karlanders-heavybirthday-itsnicethat-list

    I don’t know how much of it can be attributed to the wonders of Google translate, but the “About” paragraph for Karl Anders’ new issue of Der Zirkel, der macht is a hoot. “The worst party of the city follows naturally an equally weighty magazine,” it states. “Divided into the categories of ‘cake, card, candles,’ we penetrate horrible-beautiful and forgotten photo albums of the nineties.”

  4. List

    When we meet for coffee at 9am on a Wednesday morning Dan Stafford is buzzing. He speaks at speed but with accuracy, gulping down his coffee between momentary pauses and flicking his eyes from side to side like a shifty bird. He makes eye contact and breaks it in an instant, searching in the distance for his next thought. It seems he’s been awake for days; He’s definitely been awake for days – he launched his magazine only a day before.

  5. Nic-natives-int-list

    What happens when you take five very talented artists and makers, and send them all off together to a a stone barn in the Lake District to draw, make music, write poetry, take photographs and generally spend time exploring together? Beautiful things, that’s what, as Nicolas Burrows (who is one third of brilliant collective Nous Vous) soon found out.

  6. Jeroensmeets-thejaunt-int-list

    On the spine of The Jaunt book there’s a Latin phrase printed in white capital letters – “qua patent orbis,” which translates as “as far as the world extends.” It’s a fitting motto for this interesting project, which began life as a blog back in 2013. The idea is simple enough, curator Jeroen Smeets sends an artist (Mike Perry, Jordy van den Nieuwendijk, David Shillinglaw) off to an interesting city (Istanbul, Riga, Porto, Los Angeles) in the hope that the trip will “take the artist outside of their comfort zone and let them experience completely new surroundings.”

  7. Johnny-ryan-angry-youth-7

    In 2008 the fourteenth and final issue of Johnny Ryan’s Angry Youth Comix was published and all of a sudden some of the world’s greatest fart jokes, cock drawings, and narratives set inside vaginas disappeared from publication. The world got a little less crude that day. Realising that people crave this kind of horrible filth, Fantagraphics and Johnny have compiled all 14 stinking, degrading, borderline unpublishable issues into one great big compendium of poop and smut. What more can I say? If you’ve got the brain of a 12-year-old boy, if you love needless swearing, repellant characters, bad puns and diarrhea then Angry Youth Comix may be the last book you’ll ever need to buy.

  8. Emilyoberman-snl-int-hero

    One of the undoubted highlights of this year’s Design Indaba conference in Cape Town was hearing Pentagram partner Emily Oberman detail her long-running work on Saturday Night Live. Emily has worked with the programme for 20 years, creating three separate versions of its identity, various title sequences and even spoof adverts to run in the breaks (like this). Now Emily has teamed up with writer Alison Castle to produce Saturday Night Live: The Book, a 500-page paean to the show which coincides with its 40th anniversary this autumn.

  9. Snask-printing-friends-int-list

    “Oh for Christ’s sake how many more independent food magazines could there possibly be?” someone is probably asking right now as they look at this article – and to be fair to them, they’d have a point. But fret not, we aren’t here to herald the arrival of another culinary periodical geared towards the aesthetically-minded foodie. This is in fact Issue 8 of the litho-lover’s fanbook, Printing Friends and the food theme is just a one-off.

  10. Craigoldham-int-main

    Last week a book arrived in our office via the hands of It’s Nice That director Alex Bec. He told us all it was created by Craig Oldham, who he had just seen give a brilliant talk about the creation of the publication. It’s called In Loving Memory of Work, and it is a spectacularly well-designed, excitingly and refreshingly well-informed book documenting the UK miners’ strike between 1984 and 1985. For something so long, violent and shocking that happened in recent history, I’ve sometimes felt that the miners’ strike hasn’t really been talked about as much as it should have been. But I can see why: it’s hard to get to grips with something that horrible happening to so many people and so nearby.

  11. Calm-and-collected-sad-int-list

    About a month ago we stepped off a gloomy grey street in east London and into the rays of an indoor sunshine. At Protein Space in east London a giant orange light was recreating the warmth that emanates from the sun, a steelpan ensemble in the corner was spewing out tropical melodies, and a whole wall plastered in fluorescent illustration and artworks was attracting everybody within a five metre radius, like moths to a printerly flame. The occasion was S.A.D, a weekend exhibition put on by the lads behind Studio Calm & Collected to assuage the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, brought on by the relentless British winter.

  12. Main1

    As numerous Instagram posts will testify, people just love to look at buildings getting knocked down. There’s something so captivating about that huge, brutal, utter destruction and the debris it brings. Perhaps it reminds us of the fleeting transience of life itself. Perhaps we just love mess, cranes and diggers. Either way, this surely universal fascination with smashing shit up means that we’re very, very into a new project from Alina Schmuch, a photographer who has put together the book Script of Demolition.

  13. Gmnieves-main-int

    The only thing more joyous and fascinating than peering at Geoff McFetridge’s paintings is seeing the sketches that were made by his hand in the lead-up to their creation. We’ve gushed before about Geoff a lot, particularly about the fact that he more often than not works from his mind rather than from life. His sketchbooks are full of diagrams and viewpoints invented by his brain and scribbled down before evolving into beautiful, serene paintings, and have just been collected into a new publication from my very own favourite publishers, Nieves.