Where there’s a Wilk there’s a way

Erica Wilk and studio Moniker Press are big for Vancouver small press printing


By Jacob Hoheisel

Emily Carr University grad Erica Wilk is using what was once a popular household and office staple in Japan to print unique works of art.

She has a Risograph printer, 1980s Japanese technology, used in the production of original work and publications with local artists through her Moniker Press, based in a studio space in Vancouver.

Risographs are printers that use a stencil made from a digital scan, which is then wrapped around an ink drum. As the paper runs through the machine, the soy-based ink is imprinted directly onto the paper. It’s this ink on paper aesthetic which Risograph printers offer.

About six years ago, Wilk was working on another project called Duality with other artists and writers when she had the idea that it would be cheaper to print and do everything herself in her own studio.

“It ended up not being cheaper … I had to make 400 books by hand, but that’s how it started.” Wilk said she was lucky to find a RZ220 Risograph printer in Washington, but upgraded to a larger version, the MZ790 a year later.

The new printer wasn’t tied down when it shipped and Wilk fixed it herself. Over four years, she learned how to work with new restrictions from the repairs.

Moniker Press tables at the Book Drop small press fair, March 7. Photo by: Jacob Hoheisel

Moniker Press offers local artists the accessibility to publish their printed materials with the help of volunteers.

“Erica is the monopoly for good reason. She knows more about risograph printing than most people,” close collaborator and fellow publisher Christian Hernandez said.

Hernandez said independent publishing and risograph printing are growing niches.

“I feel like Moniker Press is a staple in the community. All of us have probably printed something there or participated in her projects,” said Anna Firth, who runs Swampcone Magazine.

Firth organized a publishing fair called Book Drop with Veins + Arterys last Saturday for printed matter and small press. The zine fair featured local talent, including Moniker Press.

Book Drop. Photo by: Gina Rogers

Wilk recommends anyone interested in starting a business in a creative or artistic field or pursuing art as a career to get out to events, talk to people, network or volunteer to showcase their work.

“It’s OK to start small,” she said.

Check out this quick ink drum video, courtesy of Moniker Press, for a closer look.

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