Gocco: the dodo bird of screen printing


Gocco makes its last screen print…for now.


The last two lamps from the now-extinct Riso™ Gocco printer were just used to create these low tech/high joy notecards.  Not exactly a toy but sublimely satisfying to operate, this mobile screen printer has supplied our collaborative with many oddball, small-run prints in the last couple years.  So using those two remaining lamps required a moment of silent meditation.  This collaborator bought up the last of the Gocco supplies at Wet Paint a decade ago, judiciously using lamps, screens and ink on select projects.  In recent years the Gocco printer has gained cult status among artists around the world. It’s easy to see why because the Gocco can produce high quality, multi-color prints in a workspace not much bigger than a toaster oven. But first, a bit about the company.

A brief history of Gocco

The Print Gocco system was developed in 1977 by Noboru Hayama for Japan’s robust greeting card culture, where families design and mail cards to friends and relatives every  New Year. The printer became so popular in the 80’s that a third of all Japanese homes came to own a Gocco. But by the 1990’s personal computers and printers eclipsed the quirky small-scale screen printing that Gocco offered. In 2005, due to flagging sales, Riso™ stopped Print Gocco  production.

The search is on…

Down the rabbit hole we must go as the online search for replacement lamps begins.  There’s NEHOC in Australia: “the most informative and largest English language site” for Gocco products, with promises of an upgraded website soon. After trying unsuccessfully to order lamps from NEHOC, then poking around for some more promising Gocco news, a 2013 article from The Sydney Morning Herald reveals this sinking ship quote:

NEHOC’s managing director, Simon Cohen, says he gets daily phone calls and emails from people, many in the US, desperate for Gocco accessories. ”It’s such a sad demise to such a brilliant product,” he says.

The search continues.

Closer to home the rabbit hole leads to Florida, always Florida.  At Northwood Studios the zany site layout is dizzying, strings of words jumping out in bright, bold type: Skeletons. Santas. Bats, Bugs & Birds. Angels. Cheers, Joy & Holly too.


But after digging around, there is this hopeful greeting:

Dear fellow gocco-maniacs,


We have gocco-compatible flash lamps available in 4-pack or 12-pack. 
These are the kind used by gocco printers before RISO came out with proprietary packaging and distribution.

Promising news. We shall see what form of ‘alternative’ lamp arrives in the mail, but it’s worth a try.  More updates as they unfold.

The Japanese word gokko means ‘make-believe play’. Hayama explained why he named his product ‘Gocco’, “We [as kids] learned rules and knowledge through make-believe play. The spirit of play is an important cultural asset. I thought that I wanted to leave “play” in the product’s name.”

One more time: The spirit of play is an important cultural asset.  Thank you, Mr. Hayama, we think so too.


Pulling prints, Gocco style.


The inked screen, easy as pie.

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