What was your first zine about and when was it made?
Our first zine, Rat Milk, was inspired by watching many a Simpsons episode and drinking warm bhang on cold winter nights. We would throw potlucks at our house and cover our dinner table with paper and our friends would draw on it. It got covered with strange food stains intermingled with depraved drawings of rats lactating, dogs on acid, caricatured faces, and mountains of details by friends and visitors. We did this a few times and scanned the results, which we screenprinted and turned into a zine. This was once upon a time, when Sanaa Khan, Max Stadnik, and Cynthia Navarro were living together, and Kenny Srivijittakar lived down the street. It was a time of constant creation. Now that Cynthia and Kenny live in L.A. we’ve had to change up the collaborative process a bit.
Describe your most recent zine.
We’ve been fortunate to Riso print zines for some of our favorite artists lately. We just put out Ringaround by Ari Bird, which is a rich collection of her illustrations, photos, writing and found objects. It is tender and macabre and includes a pocket with hidden surprises, all these little details that make it an amazing visual object. We also just released B.I. Buke, a graphic novel by Michael Olivo. When we first looked at the drawings for Buke, we were all just dumbstruck by how fully realized the artwork was. It is 60 pages of pure black and white heaven. The story takes you on raw post-apocalyptic journey of sorts.
Of all the things you’ve ever made, zine-related or otherwise, what’s your one favorite?
It’s hard to pinpoint just one, but all of us really enjoyed working with Jeffrey Cheung on his self-titled zine. He’s just a great artist and person. The whole process was a pleasure and he came at it guns blazing. That’s why we’re doing any of this at all—to have fun, be super inspired by our friends, and create work that we love. That project started something new and exciting for Tiny Splendor and made us get a better handle on our equipment.
Name three of your influences and how they affected your work.
We could name drop, but we are four people here, and that’s what seems to keep our work from getting stale—four brains are better than one. As far as the three things that keep us going, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention printmaking, community, and food.
Printmaking, because all four of us studied it and fell in love with it; it gave us an appreciation for process-based thinking, working in layers, color separations, registration, discipline, stamina, experimentation, and working in limited editions. Working in multiples allows you to reach a wider audience than a single painting ever could. We’ve brought that mentality to running a small press.
Community is essential to what we do. If it weren’t for all our friends who laughed at our drawings, inspired us with theirs, and worked side by side with us in between countless glasses of whiskey, we’d have long ago lost our sanity and become boring introverts. We’re extremely lucky to be a part of a community of hardworking creative people—musicians, photographers, writers, framers—all stripes of people working with their hands.
Food is what keeps us going. I’m hungry right now. We all have a soft spot for anthropomorphized drawings of food, weird retro food iconography, and cooking and brewing and trying all the edible things out there. We had an art show this year devoted to coffee. We are working on a zine dedicated to hot dogs. Our best ideas have been hashed out over food and drink, reenergizing our brain batteries by indulging our taste buds.
What do you do when you’re not creating and how does it help or harm what you do artistically?
Most of have service jobs, and we have passive-aggressive attitudes towards certain personalities because of that. But honestly, that motivates us to work harder as artists. Repetitive tasks give you a chance to think about your next project. Dear Customer, by Kenny Srivijittakar, is a good example of inspiration drawn from this. By nature we are artists with an itch to create, so everything becomes fodder for our next zine or print or woodworking project, even if it’s because we’re annoyed or distracted or obstructed by something.
See more from Kenny, Sanaa, Cynthia and Max over at Tiny Splendor.