Art Studio Launches Eco-Friendly Print

The new Risograph printer consumes 95% less energy than a photocopier. Photo provided

The Print and Book Arts Studio at George Mason University is repositioning its practices and program toward an environmentally conscious and sustainable future.

Christopher Kardambikis, assistant professor and director of printmaking and book arts at Mason’s School of Art, was determined to pivot and focus his operations and program on non-toxic, energy-efficient and environmentally friendly printmaking processes. reuse of scrap paper into new usable sheets. .

In fall 2022, Kardambikis received $20,000 from the Office of Sustainability’s Patriot Green Fund – a grant program at Mason facilities that enables the campus community to contribute to solutions that reduce the environmental impact of Mason – for the purchase of a new Risograph printer to help ensure its durability. assignment. This machine uses a stencil-based, monochrome printing process, which prepares students for commercial printing applications. It is ENERGY STAR certified and uses 95% less energy than photocopiers. It also does not produce greenhouse gases or air pollutants.

paper making tools
New paper-making tools help students recycle all the paper used in the classroom. Photo provided

“The Lasting Print Studio has strived to put student publications at the center of our work and our curriculum,” Kardambikis said. “It’s exciting to provide the Risograph machine as a tool for our students to print and distribute their own comic books, zines. It’s even better to know they’re using an environmentally friendly and responsible process. .

In addition, the Patriot Green Fund also purchased new molds and trays for the studio, which are used for papermaking. This allows students to learn about the processes of creating new sheets of paper from a pulp mixture of scrap paper in a hands-on environment. The printing studio holds weekly papermaking sessions to recycle old prints and previously used paper into fresh new sheets for use during class.

“Our studio is building a full materials lifecycle – with students participating in every stage of production to turn waste into finely crafted books and comics,” Kardambikis said.

By making its own paper, the studio can recycle all the paper used in the classroom to maintain a constant supply of new hand-formed paper available for fine art printing. Paper made in the classroom also reduces the cost of engraving for students, which can be a significant expense for screen printing and woodblock printing.

poster in green and gold
Flyer cartoon by Mason student Sylvia Rossi

Kardambikis also said allowing students to be directly involved in producing materials that can be used by the whole class helps create a sense of community.

These tools were quickly put to use this semester in a new course, AVT 496 Dynamic Publishing: Comics Production. This class offers students the opportunity to learn from DC-based cartoonist Adam Griffiths.

The Risograph will support the production of Griffiths’ new graphic novel, which will be designed, printed and distributed by course students. Additionally, students have the opportunity to get feedback from Griffiths on their own comics.

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