Tiny Splendor ’Zines

The Berkeley-LA publisher bridges digital and analog technology to make printmaking accessible to all.


Photo by Lance Yamamoto

Unlike their predecessors from the 1990s Riot grrrl movement or from punk bands from the 1970s and ’80s, Tiny Splendor’s 21st-century ’zines are vehicles for artwork. Titles from the Berkeley and Los Angeles ’zine maker include a humorous illustrated glossary of “regurging,” color marker drawings of works by famous modern masters, and a vintage photographic odyssey into the San Francisco punk scene, circa 1979.

Tiny Splendor was founded in Berkeley in 2012 by four UC Santa Cruz printmaking students. At that time, the group bought a Japanese Risograph machine (Riso for short) “mainly because it was cheap,” explained Max Stadnik, one of the founders. “Now Riso is a trend … and an international movement.”

The Riso works like a mimeograph machine but uses both digital and analog printing methods. An artist designs a print on the computer, and then it is translated into an analog form, via stencil, by the Riso. Colors are printed using ink drums, usually one at a time, and prints can be made quickly (and cheaply) at the rate of two per second. Stadnik described the Riso as a unique medium that acts as a “bridge” between digital and analog and appeals to users in either camp.

The ethos behind Tiny Splendor is accessibility: to provide an affordable option for everyone to own and make art. Since the beginning, when members were selling ’zines on the streets, they have not kept any profits for themselves. They funnel whatever they earn back into the equipment, rent, or materials to keep the press going. Now, the publisher sells most of its work at events, such as the San Francisco Zine Fest and other national and international fairs. It also sells work on its website at TinySplendor.com.

Tiny Splendor has evolved to offer memberships to artists, many of whom are recent art school grads, to allow them access to the Tiny Splendor printmaking equipment, which also includes a stone lithography setup. The publisher offers classes and sponsors events, such as the sixth annual East Bay Print Sale, which is scheduled from Dec. 7 to 9 at its Berkeley location. Look for thousands of unframed prints priced from $1 to $500 from over 100 artists. See EastBayPrintSale.com for more information.

Tiny Splendor, 1006 Pardee St., Berkeley, TinySplendor.com.

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