Dizzy Ink: More than Ink and Paper

Dizzy Ink: More than Ink and Paper

By Alice Redding

Edited by Annabel Wearring-Smith 

Picture by Jon Mcgregor

Imagine you can conjure and print with any ink in any colour, including in neon and metallic. Sustainably. Imagine now the creative possibilities that this would give to you as a small publishing press. Nottingham’s Dizzy Ink is making this possibility a reality.

Recently a small group of The Letters Page staff and Creative Writing Masters students went to meet Craig, Dizzy Ink’s printing whizz, in their Sneinton Market studio for a couple of workshops on modern-day magazine production: zine printing and online publishing. As we have been in the process of negotiating our own format (we’re bringing paper aerogrammes back, haven’t you heard?), this trip gave us invaluable knowledge and a new level of understanding for what print can achieve and how to use digital platforms to distribute and promote our work. 

In the printing workshop, we learnt about Dizzy Ink’s specialised printers and how these are key to their studio’s production and environmental ethos. The printers they use are what the industry calls ‘riso printers’, but to the everyday office printer user, this means they can explore and print with a much wider array of colours than standard CMYK printers can. Neon, metallic, you name it. Another reason these printers are a cut above the rest is their environmental impact. Riso printers use less energy than laser printers and the ink they use is water-based which is more environmentally friendly than its chemical counterparts. Dizzy Ink are working towards, and getting close to, becoming a carbon-neutral printing service. They print with water-based ink on recycled paper, taking us closer to a sustainable future that has returned to the raw materials of our past.  

After learning about the printing process and how Dizzy Ink operates, we were then able to make our own zines. Using techniques such as the ‘trouser’ or ‘beak’ folding method, we made magazines out of a single piece of A3. Although this technique was standard, our zines were anything but. Unique in ink and paper colours, we printed pieces of poetry, pieces of art, short stories and creative essays. And at the end of the session, we were all published – able to walk away with a tangible piece of our own work, creative in practice and published in physical form.  

The second workshop Dizzy Ink ran for us was an interactive session on online publishing. Finding the appropriate platform for our work and regularly updating it is paramount to the success of publishing. Especially when it comes to self-publishing, as many zines are. While we want to return to paper correspondence at The Letters Page, the importance of the internet for publicity and marketing cannot be ignored. To assess the benefits of various website creators we were each assigned a builder, played around with the software, and relayed its pros and cons to the workshop group. We came away with a digital toolkit for creating our own website and plenty of inspiration for The Letter’s Page’s online presence. All of us came away from our visit feeling more aware of how small presses run, how printing happens, how to self-publish and how to run and maintain an online presence. 

Small presses are a stalwart of the publishing industry, discovering new talent, advancing portfolios and spearheading new approaches to publishing. At The Letters Page, we are proud to be working among the community of small presses, championing these innovations. We are grateful to Dizzy Ink for allowing us access to their wealth of expertise and wisdom in making our own printing practices as sustainable as possible.  

The Letters Page team are back in the office, and ready to read your real letters again. We publish stories, essays, poems, memoir, reportage, criticism, recipes, travelogue, and any hybrid forms, so long as they come to us in the form of a letter. We are looking for writers of all nationalities and ages, both established and emerging.

Your letter must be sent in the post, to :

The Letters Page, School of English, University of Nottingham, NG7 2RD, UK.

See our submissions page for more information.

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