Next to the Regent’s Canal in the pretty but comparatively sleepy De Beauvoir area in London, sandwiched in between Haggerston, Shoreditch and Islington, risograph print studio and publishing house Ditto Press has just opened its doors to the public. The studio, which was founded by Ben Freeman and Lynsey Atkin, is now run by Freeman and has greatly evolved since its beginnings in 2009. Today, Ditto Press manages all kinds of print production projects and consists of a shop, gallery, design studio and print studio.
In the light, spacious gallery and store, visitors can peruse a wide selection of Ditto’s prints, as well as books published by the studio and others. Among them is “Pigs’ Disco,” Stuart Griffiths’ documentary photography book and memoir about joining the Belfast Parachute Regiment in the early ’90s and becoming involved with the rave scene. Freeman says it’s the book Ditto is most proud to have published. “The print, photography, editing, writing and design all work together and it’s a really coherent and substantial book. We worked on it with Stuart for years to get it just right,” he explains.
Originally released in 1986 and mainly designed for high-volume photocopying and printing, the risograph method became increasingly popular when Ditto Press began using it as a springboard for its publishing ventures when the company started. “When we started Ditto, if you Googled risograph print, you could only find one or two images of examples of the print process. Now there are millions. It became a very fashionable, fetishized process. Our aim has always been to make it another print option, like screen-printing, offset, etc, and we think it has become that.” He points to “the fact that it’s a bit glitchy and has a very human character, unlike digital print processes” as one of the advantages of risograph printing.
The popularity of Ditto’s work is evident—the studio will release at least five new Ditto books in the next 12 months. Among them is one about Slayer fans by Sanna Charles called “God Listens To Slayer,” and a book about printed material from skinhead culture that is “looking at the scene from every angle.” Freeman adds, “Publishing is at the core of what we do, whether it’s helping people to realize their projects or initiating projects of our own.” Expect to see a lot more interesting work, both in publishing and printing, coming from them very soon.
Images courtesy of Cajsa Lykke Carlson for Cool Hunting