Print Curiosities: No. 6 – Valley II by Todd Snap

Pokemon Snap graphic of a turquoise waterfall between rocks viewed from below under a purple sky.
Valley II, 280 x 214 mm, 4-colour Risograph print, 2019

Some may recognise this image from the cult Nintendo game Pokémon Snap. It is one of a set of three risograph prints I bought from publisher Bronze Age in London last year. 

The prints are part of a 4-piece edition accompanying the artist publication Acts of Natural Magik by Todd Snap. According to Bronze Age’s description of the publication, in Acts of Natural Magik ‘The world renowned Pokégrapher turns away from the craft that shaped his career, instead creating a portrait of Pokémon Island; an island of intrinsic and fragile beauty.’ 

Low-resolution graphic of a person with a camera and red hair, crouching on the ground taking a photograph off screen
Todd Snap in action

The images document the island’s varied landscapes and infrastructure, void of its Pokémon inhabitants. Instead, it is full of dramatic, low-resolution pixelated scenery and sunsets. 

Printed on a Risograph MZ 770, the early-age digital colour palette is perfectly reproduced by overprinting just four colours. 

Blue Pokemon Snap graphic of the view from inside a cave up towards an opening with a waterfall.
Cave III, 280 x 214 mm, 4-colour Risograph print, 2019

The Risograph is a digital stencil duplicator. Each colour is printed separately, either from a greyscale digital file or a direct scan. It automatically converts images to half-tones, which results in a naturally grainy print. Sparser dots result in different levels of opacity. The transparency of the soy- and rice bran-based inks make it ideal for overprinting to create different colours.

The stencils are thin and flimsy, and the printing is fast. Both of these factors cause slight differences in registration, resulting in prints with small variations. In Acts of Natural Magik, this appearance brings to mind glitching in computer and console games. The grain of the print echoes the sharp pixel edges of low-resolution artwork, and the bright, mock CMYK colour separation emphasises the 8-bit colour palette of the original image.

Pokemon Snap graphic of bright red lava and a volcano under a yellow sky
Volcano III, 280 x 214 mm, 4-colour Risograph print, 2019
Loupe on top of a risograph print, showing dot distribution.
Volcano III through a loupe

The publication and print editions were printed by Pagemasters. They are a small print studio based in New Cross in London and offer an affordable and high-quality Risograph printing service using only recycled or FSC-certified uncoated papers.

Technicians Rahel Zoller and Daniel Fletcher collaborated with Pagemasters during a remote risograph colour separation and book binding workshop for LCC students.

Publication cover in two tones of dark blue with the text Acts of Natural Magik and Todd Snap in gold
Acts of Natural Magik by Todd Snap. Published by Bronze Age.
Spread of a publication showing Pokemon Snap graphic of a gravel road stretching towards an orange horizon
Acts of Natural Magik by Todd Snap. Published by Bronze Age
Spread with two Pokemon Snap images of gates on a river
Acts of Natural Magik by Todd Snap. Published by Bronze Age

Acts of Natural Magik is currently available in its third edition from Bronze Age – Undercurrents in international publishing. On their website you will find a wealth of affordable artist publications. Bronze Age was founded in 2011 in London and shares its founder Justin and studio space with Pagemasters.

Images of publication cover and full-bleed prints courtesy of Bronze Age.

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