We set out on our first day of studio visits, first stop Silver Lake, Los Angeles. It’s a beautiful place, murals line the streets, record shops, book shops, vintage, and boutiques so expensive it will make you choke on your cold brew coffee. First visit is the studio space of Cynthia Navarro, one of the founders of Tiny Splendor, Risograph printing and publishing cooperative that collaborates with artists around the world.
A strip of Jacaranda trees line the street outside a cute adobe apartment complex, where Cynthia’s studio hides in the very back with its very own patio looking onto rooftops and mountain ranges of the city. The studio is ADORABLE, perfect size and embodies the energy of Tiny Splendor fully. Checkered flooring greeted us, draped fabric on the print room door, a decal of the giant crying cherub head on the window, a visual tone is set. We enter the dim lit room where all the printing and work happens and started leafing through pages and pages of colorful, multi-layered, complex prints by so many impressive visual artists.
Cynthia attended UC Santa Cruz where she received a Studio Arts degree and met her colleagues: Max Stadnik, Kenny Srivijittaker, and Sanna Khan. After college they all somehow made their way up to the East Bay area, Oakland where they started Tiny Splendor.
“We all moved up there and you know, had a copy store job. We would make crappie Xerox zines and we would silk screen in our apartments, dirty our showers to rinse the inks and stuff. We would set up in parks like, Delores Park, kind of like a party really! And I don’t know, just kind of hanging out mostly and making, you know, art after school can be kind of hard especially during those times.”
Six years ago Cynthia moved down to L.A to be closer to family and hoped for better luck finding work. And that is how Tiny Splendor became a printing publication operating in two cities, Berkeley and Los Angeles. When you think of collaborating with artists or friends in different cities, you imagine that it can get complicated but Cynthia’s advice on that was simple:
“We just generally love each other and we are really good friends who respect each other and have been working together for so long it works out.”
The progression of work has been exciting and we will continue to enjoy the work of Tiny Splendor.
“Every year it kind of gets more exciting in terms of projects and what artists we can collaborate with and stuff, recently we did this, “Year of The dog.”’
We looked through the most recent collaboration, a beautiful bound box collection of Year of the Dog themed prints by artists from all over the place, Los Angeles, Greece, the Bay area, etc. This is a beautiful collection. We recalled the infamous pink donut box of 10 zines that Tiny Splendor created for zine fest as a collaboration piece that first caught our eye in 2015.
Cynthia shares that it is a struggle, but she finds ways of staying productive and creative when it comes to making an income. She hosts workshops, rents out her printer for artists to come and print their work themselves in the space, and conducts custom print jobs. And a big reason why we are seeing more riso printing done in San Diego is thanks to Cynthia hooking up Burn All Books with a printer, which is amazing.
As we continue our conversation with Cynthia, we were curious to hear about future projects. Cynthia mentions “I am really excited about collaborating with a friend called Valerie Bower she is a photographer, we sometimes publish photography books, and so far I have two of them out.” Cynthia goes and reaches for a book filled with black and white photography of never before developed film of bands playing in the 70’s, punk bands called, “Punks & Portraits.”
Another project Cynthia mentions “Max up north is collaborating with Jeffery Chung right now and they are just doing this crazy thing that is just going to take till November. Here I am trying to finish up two print projects, one is a comic and the other is a flip book abstract kind of thing; it is coming along, it is just hard. I am here just by myself. Getting e-mails and getting hired and stuff like that.” Cynthia works very VERY hard to make Tiny Splendors come into a physical reality. We are so honored to be able to explore her space and for her to share not only what she currently is working on but future projects that we are so so stoked for!
We had the pleasure of working with Tiny Splendor this year, as she printed our book, “Dame Life,” for us, the outcome was beautiful. Cynthia did a great job printing and assembling our book that you can find at Little Dame, Gym Standard, Verbatim Books, and Pigment.
We were about to leave but then got caught up with the space! It really spoke dear to us as we are studio art majors and felt like we were home! So much art everywhere, and the perfect sized couch to get high on and explore the endless possibilities of art projects! We said hi to the Tiny Splendor's, sweet, adorable intern and then headed out to make our way to the next studio, the studio of Isa Benning, Gentle Thrills!