Tiny Splendor: Bringing Prints to the People

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Tiny Splendor is an appropriate name for the Bay Area-based print collective.

The small team that make up the not-for-profit group specialize in various forms of printmaking; etching, lithography, letterpress, silkscreen, or woodcut, and offers free artwork and zine printing to artists who would like to participate. Their thought behind this? Cost shouldn't be the obstacle that deters people from creating new work. They believe that art should be accessible -- and currently they are working to create a platform for people to generate their own work.

And this month, Tiny Splendor presents Paper & Pressure, a temporary print pop-up show featuring artwork by over 50 contemporary artists from all across California.

SF Weekly spoke about Tiny Splendor and Paper and Pressure with its creator, Sanaa Khan.

What made you start Tiny Splendor?

We started Tiny Splendor out of a general feeling of rejection from the art world. As young recent college graduates we decided to display our work and get it into the world ourselves in any way we could. Tiny Splendor started small, we did what we knew how to do and what we could. In 2012 with only a few pieces of plywood, nails, and our homemade frames we set up for the first time in Dolores Park in San Francisco. Our first sales were from our screen-printed patches, and we continued like this for quite some time. For me the biggest lesson to this day is that it is important to start small, that there is a lot of value in building yourself up.

Our mission is to create high quality affordable art that falls in line with the traditional practice of making multiples through printmaking. Creating the means of production to bring prints to people from all walks of life is a major cultural cornerstone.

So what exactly is Tiny Splendor, anyway?:

Tiny Splendor operates as a small publisher and mobile retail gallery. We primarily publish artist books and zines with our Risograph printers. One major idea behind Tiny Splendor is to create a means for producing our own work and others', while establishing the retail distribution end in order to enable us to get that work out to the public. The heart of Tiny Splendor is accessibility -- meaning making quality artworks accessible to everyday people through the medium of print.

Your website invites artists to submit work, and once you've made your selections you then print those pieces for free. What makes that possible?

What has really made it possible for us to grow and begin publishing artist books and zines on a fairly large scale is the Risograph printer. It is a powerful combination when you are able to utilize traditional printmaking knowledge with the digital, and then to hybridize it with something like the Riso. The Risograph allows us to maintain a high level of quality while keeping the cost of production very low and reducing the amount of labor traditionally involved in achieving printed matter of comparable quality. There are always tradeoffs, however; this is not to say that Riso printing means the end of traditional printmaking by any means. But it does occupy a middle ground, which continually yields surprising results.

For your upcoming event, Paper and Pressure, you have a partnered up with Oakland-based not-for-profit Lotte Arts. How did you find each other?


Initially we encountered Lotte Arts through being invited to participate in one of their organized art shows in 2011. And from that time onward I think we have had a bond through similar goals, which has kept us working in conjunction with one another to this day. I think we share the common desire to bring affordable, quality art to the public. This is made possible largely through printmaking, which I think we share a common passion for.

Paper and Pressure, has a couple different parts. If we're planning to attend, what all do you have planned for us?

Paper & Pressure's body of work will be on display for visitors from Saturday, June 21 to Thursday, June 26.

There will be a two-day print sale on Saturday and Sunday during which visitors can browse and buy from a huge selection of affordable and original prints from over 50 California printmakers.

We will be hosting workshops in the space on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Monday evening will feature a talk and demonstration on the process of making Comics by artist Kane Lynch in which participants can practice inking comics. Tuesday evening features a lettering talk and demonstration by sign painters Sean Vranizan and Kel Troughton in which participants can practice spacing and inking letterforms. Wednesday evening features a discussion on political printmaking by veteran Bay Area artist and activist Doug Minkler.

Thursday night (June 26) we will host a closing reception from 5-8 p.m. during which visitors can meet the artists, enjoy refreshments, and listen to a DJ.

Tiny Splendor presents Paper & Pressure on June 21st at 11 a.m. and runs through June 26 at FFDG (2277 Mission ). Admission is free; visit tinysplendor.com for more information.

For events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF, Laura Jaye Cramer at @laurajayecramer, and like us on Facebook.

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