Making a magazine? Part 1

In a new 3-part series – Confluence‘s managing editor and designer, Sam Hall, talks about how zines and magazines are made and how the processes differ..

How a magazine is printed…


After we decided to take the magazine into print, rather than just publish online, we looked at various ways to print the magazine. Traditionally a short run magazine would be printed digitally on a machine that works like a very high quality photocopier, or a home printer. A magazine with a bigger distribution would be printed using offset lithography, where the image you are printing is transferred onto plates made of aluminium (usually) and the pages are printed from this.


In Medway, we are lucky enough to have an artist-run print-making studio which has community open access facilities; Medway Fine Printmakers. Last year they acquired a Risograph machine, which is quite an old bit of technology, they were first used in the mid-’80s, often by clubs and schools to make their own fanzines and small publications, a lot of them have apparently found their way into print studios.


The printing from this machine has a really nice handmade feel to it, as each print may be slightly different, and little imperfections creep into the prints at unexpected moments. As you might be able to see in the picture, the ink coverage on solid areas sometimes goes a bit blotchy, so we have to design around that, or embrace the imperfect texture.


We decided to print the first 4 issues of Confluence on this Risograph machine because we think it gives it a different texture to a lot of mass-produced magazines – there is a more handmade feel to each printed page. It is also ideal for the smaller print runs that we typically produce.


We are just learning to use the Risograph and find out about what its limitations are and where it excels. So far we have only used one colour on the publication, but we intend to get more experimental with the next issue!

Confluence #1, #3 and #4 were printed on a Risograph. There are a few copies left which can be purchased here

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