The assumption that risography is a printing process that has emerged in the recent past and has been used since then is wrong. This chapter goes back to the beginnings of stencil technology and introduces the reader to inventions in Europe, America and Japan about the current state of risograph printing among artists and authors.
If one wants to be precise and wants to go far and wide, then the process of stencil printing that is used in risography has its origins in cave art, the oldest testimony to the use of pigments and binders1: Various oxides, rocks and charcoal were used for painting on walls, people painted their images with brushes made of chewed or split branches, stamps and of course, fingers.2
Also in later Egypt, leather and papyrus were used as templates to use as a reproduction aid for decorating the interior walls of pyramids.3 Before Johannes Gutenberg (1400 – 1468) invented book printing using movable type, especially in Asia wood panels were used for the reproduction of prints4. Moving on advanced technology allowed to use Metal stencils that were from the 16th century, for example in etchings. In the so-called block printing with wood panels, a similar printing technique, images and texts were reproduced on a wooden plate, a process invented in China in the 6th century.5
Today, the term stencil, is mainly found as an expression in the genre of graffiti and street art. Stencils used today by artists are less commonly made of wood or metal, but mainly of cardboard, plastic or laminated paper.6