Updates on Reopening SVA
Click below for info on our plans for 2021-2022, including the vaccine requirement for all students, faculty and staff.
RisoLAB Revival

SVA’s lauded RisoLAB is ready for your creative project

June 18, 2021 by Michael Bilsborough
Here is a colorful flyer with text announcing “RISOLAB REVIVAL”.

Flyer designed by Panayiotis Terzis

SVA Continuing Education is pleased to announce the reopening of the RisoLAB. Founded in 2015, the RisoLAB is an interdisciplinary space for printing, publishing and production of Risograph based printed works. Its mission is to become a hub of small scale and experimental printing and publishing activity that brings together artists of all backgrounds and disciplines. The RisoLAB faculty members encourage dialogue about creative worlds, the role of print media in art and culture, and developing creative ideas.

How is the RisoLAB responding to the recent reopening of New York? We reached out to Panayiotis Terzis, Co-Founder & Manager of the SVA RisoLAB.

Here is a colorful flyer with text announcing “RISOLAB REVIVAL” and imagery of an alien flower-like structure appearing to grow on an extraterrestrial landscape.

Flyer designed by Panayiotis Terzis

SVACE: Although NYC has reopened, not everyone is ready. What motivated you to open the RisoLAB now, instead of in the fall?

PT: Throughout the pandemic, our vast community of Risograph printers, made up of SVA alumni, Continuing Education students, and creative professionals from across the NYC art world continuously reached out to us inquiring as to when or whether the RisoLAB would re-open. This has been in the works for a long time, and given that the rates of COVID in NYC have dropped so quickly and the vaccination rate has reached 70%, we felt that this summer would be a perfect time to safely open our doors once again. 

We conducted a survey of the 700+ individuals who had used the RisoLAB for Continuing Education courses and more since we opened in 2015. The response was overwhelming: we were flooded with positive testimonials from over 150 RisoLAB users about how important the RisoLAB had been for them in their creative practice, and what a crucial space this had become. There was a desperate cry for the RisoLAB to safely reopen and a desire to protect and preserve what has become a unique and irreplaceable resource for independent printing and publishing in NYC. Given that we've operated on tight budget with a tiny staff, it's incredible and humbling that this space has garnered such loyalty and devotion among our members. 

SVACE: How do our community members gain access to the RisoLAB?

PT: This summer, we will be conducting a partial re-opening; we will not offer full semester in-person classes until the Fall, but we are open for RisoLAB access for students who have previously completed an in-person course. The fee for our six week semester is $200, which includes unlimited printing and masters. Students are allowed to book up to six hours of printing time per week during our five open days of Lab Access.

We have also listed four in-person, two session Boot Camp Training Intensives for students who completed one of our online courses over the past year. As of right now nearly all of these are fully enrolled with a waiting list, except for the July 10-11 session. Students will apply the print design training that they picked up in my courses or Wren McDonald's course to the hands on print process. These courses include six weeks of access to the RisoLAB, which can be used this summer or in the first or second half of the Fall semester. 

SVACE: You and the RisoLAB team are working with new preparations and precautions in order to reopen. What are they? 

PT: We have always been a by-appointment space with limited capacity. We have four Risograph machines, each of which has its own print schedule and can be reserved by students ahead of time. So we have been prepared for a limited number of students from our inception. Our Bootcamp Training Intensives are limited to five students, and usually there are no more than six individuals in our space at a time, including the technician on duty, or myself during my office hours. 

We will observe general COVID protocols including sanitizing the space and equipment on a regular basis and providing ample ventilation, but are confident that the timing of our reopening allows us to avoid the risks that we may have had to contend with had we reopened earlier in the year.

The College has recently announced a vaccination requirement for all students, faculty, and staff, which will go into effect on August 1st. Since this overlaps with our summer semester by a few weeks, we are asking our students and printers to upload their proof of vaccination as well. Once this policy goes into effect, the need for social distancing and capacity limitations will no longer be necessary, but mask wearing will be observed for the time being. 

SVACE: What kinds of student projects do you anticipate seeing and supporting? Are there any limitations? 

PT: I have heard from many students who have projects that they completed during the past year that are ready to be printed, from zines to books, print portfolios and sets of cards. I'm continuously surprised and impressed by the different kinds of projects and approaches that our students and printers bring to the Risograph process. With the right training in print design and technique you can print anything on a Riso. 

As far as limitations, students must provide their own high quality paper for printing, but we are a flat-rate space. Everyone pays the same Lab fee; some use it more than others, but everyone is covered in the end. Providing rigorous training in our classes and workshops is the only way we can maintain this equitable and democratic system. This allows students to truly experiment and explore the boundaries of this incredible medium.

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