Hato Press is an independent printing and publishing house based in London. It was established in 2009 to act as a support structure to help sustain its members’ practices and offer an affordable means of production for others.
Hato is thought of as an autonomous experimental space to encourage collaborators to develop ideas and facilitate both the production and distribution of new content.
All profits are directed into purchasing new equipment for the workshop and making new books.
Recent clients include:
Åbäke, A Practice for Everyday Life, Big Chill Bar, The British Council, Camden Town Brewery, Central Saint Martins, Goldsmiths College, Hayward Gallery, Manystuff, Meadham Kirchoff, Nous Vous, OK-RM, Royal College of Art, The School of Life, Serpentine Gallery, The Showroom, South London Gallery, Urban Outfitters, Victoria and Albert Museum, The Whitechapel Gallery, YCN.
Where did the name Hato come from?
The word ‘hato’ means pigeon in Japanese, the country of origin of Riso. Our name pays homage to Doves Press, one of the first Private Presses in the UK, and a significant contributor to the Arts and Crafts movement. Many other publishers are named after birds; Penguin, Golden Cockerel, Pelican… We see the pigeon as the more rough-cut and messier cousin to the dove, and for that reason it is apt.
Can you give a brief history of Hato Press?
Established in 2009, Hato started as a support structure to offer affordable means of production to others. This idea of a support structure came about when we first left college. We bought the machine wanting to publish our own books and ended up printing for a lot of our friends as well as their own. We realised that running a printing press could be a way for us to survive under our own economy, as design jobs were hard to come as well as meeting a lot of new and interesting people.
Today Hato is thought of as an autonomous experimental space to encourage collaborators to develop ideas and facilitate both the production and distribution of new content. Hato now comprises of three parts: Hato Press, a printing and publishing house; Studio Hato, a design studio specialising in publications, exhibitions, education and workshops and its newest member Hato Labo, an interactive design studio.
Hato is both a design studio and a printing press. You are using Risograph as a ‘support network to offer affordable means of production to others’. How has this technique changed the way designers and illustrators share their work and publish? And what impact did it have on your own practise?
This idea of a support structure came about when we first left college. We bought the machine wanting to publish our own books and ended up printing for a lot of our friends. We realised that running a printing press could be a way for us to survive under our own economy, as design jobs were hard to come by.
The Risograph is a simple but brilliant tool for people who want to publish their own work. It quickly became integrated within our design practice. Of course we were both already heavily involved with other printing techniques and were interested in expanding our practice. It allowed us to move into workshops, education, and working on an economy of scale. We enjoy exploring the notion of a printing press as an educational tool, which is something we are pursuing as part of the Edgware Road project; lecturing at universities and workshops.
Can you explain how production becomes a support strucure for your studio as well, economically speaking?
The printing press was (and still remains) a strong networking tool for us, it is how we met and continue to meet a lot of the people we are working with today. It has also allowed us to exist under our own autonomy which we are continuingly re-defining as time goes on.
Economically speaking the press was set up purely to support our studio space as well as a very small part of our living. We had made this decision at a very early stage which we felt was fair for ourselves and also those that we would print for. Today the press now supports its space as well as Jordan, Justin and our interns who run Hato Press.
This has enabled us to focus on our studio practice, Studio Hato.
What makes Risograph printing distinctive and special? What kind of effects can be produced with this printing technique?
Aesthetically its warmth colour is something difficult to replace, but its also the accessibility for young designers and studios. Its a really affordable method of production and therefore allows a lot of experimentation. Of course there are various restrictions, such as not being able to print on glossy or silk papers but these restrictions only make the process more creative. It forces the artist or designer to really delve into uncoated paper stocks, for which there are hundreds! And find papers that really add a new context to the project.
Explain the process of Risograph printing – how are artwork files prepared, printed and fed back into the printer?
This is pretty straight forward, when a client sends his artwork over, we will check it for any obvious problems. Given everything is good, we then put his artwork onto a printing template and add the necessary crop marks and registration marks. We export the artwork as a PDF and send it through to get printed. It undergoes the same process as litho printing but its a little more flexible and hands on as were only dealing with A3 plates.
Describe the colour limitations with Risograph – are there any popular colour combinations?
Risograph is a spot colour process, there are roughly twenty-odd different colours available. So if you want a colour outside of that spectrum you have to reproduce it by overprinting different colours together. It is not an exact science but this method of reproducing colours have resulted in some interesting and beautiful outcomes.
Over the past few years we’ve found that red and black are the most popular colour combination.
How does the Riso / screenprinting processes inform your use of colour, if at all? What limitations exist in these processes and how are they overcome or capitalized upon in your design processes?”
Unlike screen-printing, risograph is limited to its use of colour, you buy the colours ready mixed and there’s only so many that are available. So when we talk to people about colour its always really interesting to see what they think of what we can offer, there is, also, the option of mixing colours, riso (again) unlike screen-printing, uses soy based inks that really work with paper and with each other, you have an amazing amount of idea’s come from being restricted especially with colour.
We get excited when projects take on an experimental attitude to colour, we enjoy nothing more than overlaying colours that wouldn’t normally be used. for example, SNIMKY, a project from former Hato studio resident Dario Utreras, uses photographs that have been split into three channels. These were then printed in teal, yellow and fluorescent pink, and look completely unique and unreplicable. I guess part of the excitement comes from knowing that what you see on screen is never exactly the same as the printed outcome.
Have you observed a rise in popularity in this type of printing? Why do think this might be?
We have definitely seen a rise in popularity in Risograph printing in recent years, we think that is mainly due to more people knowing about this particular method of production. When we first started in 2009, hardly anyone knew about it. Even now, it is still a relatively new and obscure production technique when compared to other printing methods.
Also the rise in digital marketing and self publishing rather than killing print has put more of an emphasis on its printed counterpart. When designers and agencies are after something that is much more bespoke and tactile, the risograph along with other printing processes fit this really well.
List the main advantages to this print technique over others out there.
Environmentally friendly. Economical. Quick. Affordable. The results are quite unique as well and experimenting on it is super fun.
On a daily basis, this (studio) environment is tied by communal meals. They sometimes become a means of payment that visitors, stoping by your studio for a tour or an interview, have to use. These daily recipes will later be published as an extension to your Studio Cookbook, that you then share with the other artists and designers. Can you explain how the notion of exchange is bound to your practice?
We have been lucky to define our own autonomy over time. This is something which constantly changes and adapts according to our current ‘studio environment’ by which we mean our economy, number of members, location etc.
These exchanges have grown from printing as a mode of exchange, books as a mode of payment, time for printing, cooking for time. Which are all still valid. The act of exchanges begin to form micro communities (bonds) outside of the boundaries set out by society, between the parties we get to define our own economy and what a ‘balanced’ relationship is. On many levels it is a much more powerful method of payment.
The communal meals and also Studio Cookbook are both to encourage a sense of community or family, this is a really crucial aspect to our studio. On a daily basis we cook for one another under a rota. There are no pressures on what is prepared, the importance is the social aspect. We get to know the interns further and it is a gesture of our appreciation.
It’s great that we get a lot of students that want to interview us, this is something we wish to support as much as possible, however it was never a balanced relationship. We would often take up to an hour a day to accommodate. Now as an exchange all interviews have to answer to a brief to cook lunch.
Do you offer any internship placements?
We run a 3 month printernship programme which is one day per week. We only take on students or recent graduates as we feel we are in the best position to support their practices or studies.
We ask students to help us one day a week, in exchange they are encouraged to use the printing press to produce their own prints and publications. All interns have to propose a project to complete during their three month stay, which we help them to realise during that time.
During the printernship, you will be introduced to the finishing and printing equipment in the studio. In the last month of your printernship, you will be given credits to print your own project in exchange for your time helping us.
How can I apply for a printernship?
Please email us a CV and a portfolio of your work. If you are given an interview, please bring with you a brief proposal of a project that you would like to print during your time at Hato Press.
We only have a limited number of places but we can always reserve future positions.