Meet Riso Sur Mer, an international collaboration connecting the red brick tenements of Glasgow with the French mainland and its islands. The collective centres on illustration, more namely, the use of Risograph printing quite like you’ve never seen before. But before we get into that, let’s meet the team. Mari Campistron, Élise Rigollet, Inès Gradot, Josephine Ohl and Margaux Bigou all met because of the textured method of printing known for its colourful and sustainable qualities and soon enough, a friendship by sea ensued in the form of Riso Sur Mer.
Though they live in different places far and wide, the group of friends keep themselves busy with limited runs, editions and prints which unite each creative’s respective practice in collaborative Risograph-printed joy. While Élise and Joséphine studied graphic design, Margaux received an animation degree from Paris, and over in Glasgow, Inès and Mari graduated from The Glasgow School of Art with a distinct focus on illustration. Altogether, the five artists explore their diverse, overlapping interests through the collective. Collaborating to channel their individual and combined visions into projects, Riso Sur Mer is an adventure into what Risograph can achieve. And, as Mari tells us, “There is no hierarchy as we fly smoothly from one task to another like bees.”
As their paths first began to cross as far back as 2012, the collective unfolds organically, involving different members according to availability and the project at hand. The process goes hand in hand with current inspirations and what tends to happen is that one of the members will think of a theme or a particular binding technique that incites interest. In turn, the project takes off. So far, Riso Sur Mer has proudly produced three unique publications: Mirage, Meridians and most recently, Rivages. Each, a display of what Riso can do when pushed to its most experimental, coupled with lively compositions and an unexpected viewing experience.
Elsewhere, the collective has created a series of zines titled Exercise Books with Musho Fernandez. A project which came about during a recent residency in Basque Country, where Mari grew up and where she has a Riso printer. With such micro-residencies at the heart of the practice, the punchy produce of Riso Sur Mer can be seen at festivals across Europe. One of the highlights of being part of such a collective means they can cover a large geographical territory and share the work load when it comes to representing the collective across the famously friendly self-publishing community.
On the flip side of this, it can be a challenge to encompass the essence of each artist’s personal practice into the output. The five get around this predominantly by using the unifying Risograph, where the most contrasting of colours can collide in an unpredictable harmony. The experimentation with different paper stocks and grains only adds to the richness of the process too, adding an extra tactile oomph that is rare. Concept-wise, projects often start out with a theme which can be interpreted however each wishes. It ensures collaboration but in a wholly freeing sense “with no censorship at all” which means differing formats and binding methods arise spontaneously and refreshingly too.
In Exercise Book for instance, three members of the collective took a stab at each image. The first two layers were designed by someone, the next two by another, and so on and so forth. It’s a method that coincides with the common themes for Riso Sur Mer, amongst them: cycles, time zones in Meridians, repetitive processes. And in this way, works such as Exercise Book and Rivages were borne. Rivages, meaning shore or coastline in French hints to the geographical positioning of the collective members and each creative sought to present Riso Sur Mer in their own perspective for the project.
“Names were drawn randomly,” they add on the matter, “each member was inspired by another and had to introduce herself in a subjective way.” A celebration of friendship, personal content was sent to the next in the chain, inspiring the next in line to delve deeper still. As a result, Rivages features an eclectic mix of sand and leaves from the Reunion Island, party fliers, old family photographs and much more, all expressed through the bold use of Risograph. With 2021 just on the horizon, Rivages will hopefully be distributed across zine fairs far and wide – something the team have missed this year. As well as such face to face hopes, Riso Sur Mer are also planning its most spectacular project yet hint that, “All we can say is that is will be a particular and extravagantly binded zine.”
Riso Sur Mer: Rivages (Copyright © Riso Sur Mer, 2020)
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.