Art studio introduces environmentally friendly printing

The new Risograph printer uses 95% less energy than a photocopier. Photo submitted

George Mason University’s Press and Book Art Studio is repositioning its practices and curriculum toward an environmentally friendly and sustainable future.

Christopher Kardambikis, assistant professor and director of graphics and book art at Mason’s School of Art, was determined to focus his operations and curriculum on graphics-making processes that are non-toxic, energy efficient and support the conversion of scrap paper into new usable sheets.

In the fall of 2022, Kardambikis received $ 20,000 from the Office of Sustainability’s Patriot Green Fund — a grant program at Mason Facilities that allows the campus community to contribute solutions that reduce Mason’s environmental impact — to purchase a new Risograph to help him fulfill his sustainability. mission. This machine uses a single-color template-based printing process that 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 any air pollutants.

papermaking tools
New papermaking tools help students recycle all the paper used in the classroom. Photo submitted

“The Sustainable Press Studio is working to bring student publications to 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 comics, zines, books and graphics. It’s even better to know they’re using a process that’s environmentally friendly and responsible.”

In the Appendix, The Patriot Green Fund has also procured new atelier molds and deckles, which are used to make paper. This allows students to learn in a practical environment about the processes of creating new sheets of paper from mixed pulp of paper scraps. Print Studio holds weekly paper-making sessions to recycle old prints and previously used paper into fresh new sheets to be used during classes.

“Our studio is building a full life cycle of materials – with students participating in every step of production to transform waste materials 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 keep a constant supply of new hand-crafted art print paper. Paper made in the classroom also reduces the cost of graphics for students, which can be a big expense in screen printing and printing on wooden blocks.

poster in green and gold
Flyer cartoon by Masonic student Sylvie Rossi

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

These tools were immediately used this semester in a new course, AVT 496 Dynamic Publishing: Comics Production. This lesson provides students with opportunities to learn from DC cartoonist Adam Griffith.

The risograph will support the production of Griffiths ’new graphic novel, which students in the course will design, print and distribute. In addition, students have the opportunity to receive feedback from Griffiths on their own comics.

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