Little Mountain Press is an illustrative celebration of Asian identity and sexuality

Founded by the illustrators Xiao Mei and Mountain Dog, the independent printing press births refreshingly honest tales of the couple’s lives.

16 March 2020

As Xiao Mei, the co-founder of Little Mountain Press, starts writing her email to me from New York, there are only two confirmed cases of Coronavirus. By the time she finished writing to me, she reveals there are 22. As for her partner, the other co-founder of Little Mountain Press who goes by the creative moniker of Mountain Dog, her environment is quite different in Shenzhen. Based between the southeastern Chinese city and New York, Little Mountain Press is an independent Risograph press, publishing not only the fabulously colourful works of both Xiao’s and Mountain Dog’s, but a flurry of many other illustrators, too.

Publishing an array of all sorts of vivid Risograph loveliness from zines, prints and posters, Little Mountain Press has a joyful vision; something that we all need a friendly dose of at these trying times. They love to transform boredom into joy while challenge peoples’ perceptions through the medium of print. Unafraid of the zestiest of colours, the small printing press is unashamedly expressing their sexuality and Chinese identity through zingy colour palettes and dynamic illustration.

The two met back in 2015 during an illustration class at the School of Visual Arts, in a moment Xiao describes as “an instant bond.” Together, they visited art book fairs and comic festivals, a cherished past time which eventually led the two to establish Little Mountain Press. It was one particular visit to MoCCA, a comic festival hosted by the Society of Illustrators in New York which spark the idea into fruition. “We were astonished by all the art works and fell in love with the idea of creating affordable art or products while supporting the artist,” Xiao explains to It’s Nice That on how Little Mountain Press came into being. And ever since then, illustration and publishing has been a fun, practical and universal way of communicating their ideas with the rest of the world.

GalleryLittle Mountain Press

Together, the creative duo pour their ideas of Asian identity into their works. Whether it’s Weibo trends, or colloquial slang, the two founding illustrators wholeheartedly express who they are through their wonderful works. “We like to include the Chinese language in our work because it’s how we communicate,” says Xiao, but at the same time, they also create narrative images so those who don’t read or speak Chinese can also understand the gist of the illustrations without feeling left out. “We love memes, as well as Chinese and Japanese retro graphics,” adds Xiao on the press’ signature aesthetic; a punchy hit of visual wit which suits the printing limitations of Risograph very well, too.

It’s a vivid style seen across all of Little Mountain Press, from Xiao’s zine titled Modern Dating Guide to Mountain Dog’s, I Don’t Draw Anymore. In the first, Xiao echoes the style of retro Chinese advertisements to relay previous dating experiences. “Sometimes, all a girl ever wanted is to get down to ‘business’ instead of hearing men pretend to explain everything,” she continues. So once the zine is unfolded, a vagina being fingered accompanied by the slogan “to be touched” unfurls. Mountain Dog’s I Don’t Draw Anymore on the other hand, explores pretty much what it says on the tin. In other words, it delves into a four month period of the illustrator’s life where she didn’t draw as she was “too busy slacking.”

Xiao and Mountain also collaborate on zines. Most recently, their joint venture We Don’t See Each Other Anymore expresses exactly that, the difficulties of a long term relationship. “Since we are located on the other side of the planet to each other,” continues Xiao, “with 12 to 13 hours difference, it’s hard for us to meet each other often.” In turn, the zine is a visual diary documenting this life update. It illustrates them running the press, looking after their respective cats, and the general going-abouts their daily lives while struggling to be their own boss. Refreshingly honest, Little Mountain Press is unique for its candid storytelling of a real life couple, living long distance while running an independent press. Looking to collaborate with more underground Chinese artists and illustrators in the future, Xiao and Mountain Dog hope to showcase more of their work internationally, and discover a host of creative minds, ready to be discovered.

GalleryLittle Mountain Press

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.

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