A weekend well spent at ‘Bad Student’ design studio. Photos by Editorial Board.


“In order to be good at something, you need to be bad at it first.” Pau Tiu, one of the duo behind ‘Bad Student’, once shared this for the first time to MINT Multimedia Arts (MMA) students. Tiu, together with Dyam Gonzales, were invited to speak about Riso printing as an art medium.

They managed to win over the MINT MMA crowd by showing their portfolio full of colorful Riso prints. That is why, last November 17, they hosted a workshop about ‘Risography’. Their design studio is located inside a residential building in Cubao.

Junior MINT Multimedia Arts students, Chase Castro and Kimberlee Balmes, together with program head Lizza Gutierrez, attended their workshop that taught them the basics of creating Riso art.

“For me, Riso is like a silkscreen printer trapped in photocopier body,” Tiu describes. Riso is almost synonymous to “Xerox” here in the Philippines, but for the two Fine Arts graduates from the University of the Philippines, Diliman, they reintroduce the machine as an affordable art medium for visual artists.

The ‘Bad Student’ design studio is the brainchild of Pau Tiu and Dyam Gonzales. They discovered that the Japanese technology is more than a capable photocopier. Formerly made to rival the brand ‘Xerox’, Riso was chiefly used as a test paper photocopier in schools.

Tiu shared that a lot of people missed the machine’s advantage of having multi-colored barrels and detail. As of now, they are the only ones who offer copies of full-color Riso prints.

“It was in Europe that Riso was seen as a potential medium. Designers, illustrators, magazine layout artists--they managed to use it further than its intended use,” Tiu added.

As a young startup design team, ‘Bad Student’ encountered some rough patches before their current smooth pace.

“It took us a year and a half of researching, building the machine. I’ll never forget the time we got the machine up and running, pero in three days sira agad! Akala namin naloko kami, kasi the machine was very costly we we got it,” Tiu shared.

Furthermore, she also explained that their machine, fondly called ‘McKenzie’, broke down a lot at first and they had a hard time calling for a technician to fix their ‘problem child’. They were always met with excuses like the technicians only knowing how to fix Xerox copies.

Nonetheless, they taught themselves the necessary tools of trade to keep a Riso printing shop afloat and now, as a brand, ‘Bad Student’ began attracting attention, especially in the local indie art scene.

“It’s a fun way to put your art out there and it’s a refreshing take to create something new. Iba kasi yung simplicity ng prints,” Gonzales explained.

She also added that people can feel more involved with the Riso art since it's something tangible. “Kakaiba siya, kasi kumbaga kapag magpapa-rpint ka sa print shop sa labas, ibibigay mo lang. May disconnection. Pero dito, collaborative. You manually draw your design, feed your stencil to the machine, then you see it printed out.”

Lizza Gutierrez, program head of MINT Multimedia Arts program explained their engagement with the duo’s workshop.

“This was made for our elective class which is Zine Design. In partnership with Ms. Isa’s writing class, we decided to collaborate in a project that students would have to choose techniques for their magazines and this is an interesting technique I’d love our students to explore,” she said.

Chase Castro, who made a poster print said that the workshop has been both amazing and surprising for her because she get to experience the process to come up with an art print.

“The best part for me was when I had misprints, but Riso made it seem it’s part of the design still. In the usual setting, those ‘accidents’ are a no-no but Riso made them still charming.”

As for Kimberlee Balmes, she decided to prepare a zine-format design to be printed from the Riso machine. She has prepared a collage of all of her best moments this year. For her the workshop at ‘Bad Student’ made her feel involved with her art more.

“The use of two colors only was the most challenging for me. But I managed to make it work. I love how the contrast of the colors chosen made my work stand out.”

As afternoon sets in, all of the prints made by the MINT crowd were hung up on the walls. It was a fruitful day for everyone, despite the printer’s misprints, or what ‘Bad Student’ loves to call as ‘happy accidents’. W