Extra Nice Fund recipient Cahyati Press to bring the first community Riso printer to Bali

The recipient of this year’s fund is a bookstore and “publishing experiment” in Seminyak, Bali seeking to make printing more accessible through the medium of Risograph.

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Cahyati Press is a space surrounded by creatives. Creatives that come through the studio and bookstore to read, creatives that come to collaborate and publish their works, and creatives that work behind the scenes, helping the independent, self-funded space run throughout the year. While the community surrounding Cahyati Press is rich, many looking to print their work in are still faced with a crucial barrier: cost.

Cahyati Press has had an idea to help. From its base in Seminyak, Bali, the studio wants to set up a community Riso printer, which it will maintain and run on a tiered membership system, with subsidised memberships available for working-class creatives. After receiving hundreds of excellent applications to this year’s Extra Nice Fund – which exists to help bring to life projects that positively impacts underrepresented groups – we are thrilled to announce that Cahyati Press founders Syarafina Vidyadhana and Katyusha Methanisa are the recipients of this year’s fund and will receive £2,500 to help towards their community-driven mission.

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Copyright © Cahyati Press

“It costs a lot to print something, pushing artists to try to make things as perfect as possible before they get published.”

Katyusha Methanisa

For Syarafina and Kat, the printer will do more than just support creatives logistically with publishing – though this is an important part of their plan. It will also break down barriers that might exist for those wanting to experiment.

“It costs a lot to print something, pushing artists to try to make things as perfect as possible before they get published,” says co-founder Kat. Riso printing is traditionally cheaper than running digital copiers and, in some cases, more sustainable due to its use of soy or rice oils over petroleum-based inks. Its price point and the unexpected nature of the printing process opens up all sorts of possibilities for creative exploration. As Syarafina puts it: “When things are low stakes, people feel encouraged to create.”

“In a visual sense, we are drawn to Riso because the results are interesting and not ‘perfect’,” Syarafina says. “Also, Indonesian artists are very diverse, but a lot of them have vibrant colour palettes that could really come to life through Riso.” By increasing access to the technique, Cahyati Press can help realise more of the kind of projects it is currently working to publish – like Aca & Ica, a comic series from the artist Ula Zuhra that follows two girls in Jakarta, or a chapbook of essays by Rizky Rahad, investigating queer cinema as a radical means of liberation.

GalleryCopyright © Cahyati Press

“When things are low stakes, people feel encouraged to create.”

Syarafina Vidyadhana

There are a lot of projects and plans like this in the works at Cahyati Press. But to get a real sense of the place, you have to first get to know its founders. Syarafina and Kat have been friends and creative collaborators for nearly a decade; the pair first joined forces on a literary zine in 2014, when Kat was still in high school and Syarafina at university. “Something that I have in common with Syarafina is that we always need something outside of our day jobs to channel our nervous energy,” Kat says. Even back in 2014, that shared driving force was there; “but the outlet was much more limited!”.

In 2022, Syarafina asked Kat to join her in building a “printing and publishing experiment”. Syarafina laughs: “My initial pitch to her was so vague – but she put her faith in me and helped me shape it into something tangible. The thought of having to think everything out on my own and make all the calls scared the shit out of me.” In the year since, Kat says it’s been a “wild ride” involving juggling between working with collaborators on publishing projects, curating and selling books at the store and organising gatherings.

Considering this breadth of activity, Cahyati Press is small. It runs out of a 14-metre square kiosk space that Syarafina first discovered at a launch party for another zine. “I thought maybe I could rent one of these kiosks and open up a printing space or a bookstore or something.” Between those four walls, there’s a desk, a couple of chairs, shelves and drawers lined with printed matter and, of course, some bright pink stools for reading and relaxing. There visitors will find a carefully curated selection ranging from left-leaning publications to queer texts.

“We only sell books and zines that we love and believe deserve to be read by more people,” says Kat. Syarafina adds: “We get teary eyed when people from all over the island come to our store and say they resonate with our curation. These are people who, like us, yearn to read works that are otherwise not available at chain bookstores – either due to their perceived lack of commercial value or unpopular perspectives.”

One of the most fulfilling parts of running Cahyati Press is the friends Kat and Syarafina have made along the way and the connections they’ve helped facilitate. Even their first zine, Some Type of Love, brought people together. Working with their friends and collaborators Christabelle Adeline, Rara Rizal and Farhanah, the duo created an interactive publication featuring writing prompts and a draw-by-numbers poster. “To this day, we still give out these activities at the store for visitors to do,” says Syarafina.

Like any labour of love, there are challenges too. Both Kat and Syarafina work day jobs, funding and running the Press between them (although they’ve recently brought on their friend Gita to help with the workload). “I live and work in Meanjin (Brisbane in so-called Australia), something we knew could be a challenge going in,” says Kat. Beyond this, limited resources means that stocking and restocking a range of books is difficult and they often have to choose quantities and texts very deliberately. But the pair have come up with some ingenious solutions too. For example, Cahyati Press operates by appointment only. But rather than holding back the venture, Kat and Syarafina confirm it’s actually been a positive for the space, allowing visitors uninterrupted time to browse and discover.

GalleryCopyright © Cahyati Press

“I think that more than anyone, Syarafina and I needed Cahyati Press.”

Katyusha Methanisa

Throughout all these challenges, Cahyati Press has always had its next step in mind; securing a Riso printer for its visitors and collaborators. While the studio is still on the hunt for a second hand Riso printer, Kat and Syarafina have now raised all the funds needed to secure it and cover initial operational costs – half was already raised from selling copies of Some Type of Love; the remaining amount will be covered by the Extra Nice Fund. Even in this preliminary phase, Kat and Syarafina know the printer will be run with a focus on accessibility.

One of the ways this will be ensured is through a tiered membership system. The three-tier system will begin at an Essential membership – where creatives can access the Risograph printer and receive operating assistance – and leads to a Founding membership, where members will also help subsidise membership plans for working-class writers and artists. For every ten paid memberships Cahyati Press receives, it will give out one Essential membership to an artist who could benefit from it. To further support working-class artists, Cahyati Press also plans on accepting proposals once a year and selecting one creative to receive a tier-two membership and funds to cover their project’s production costs. Selected creatives will also be able to sell the end products at Cahyati’s store without consignment fees.

There are also plans for the Riso printer project to have an educational element. “We have a lot of friends who are artists that are seasoned in risograph printing,” says Kat. “We have them in mind for future skill-sharing workshops, whether it’s a Riso 101 tutorial session or project-specific workshops such as making posters or greeting cards.” The founders have plans to hold parties where creatives can bring along artworks for printing. “Our friend Maesy from Post Bookshop suggested that we call it a printing party!” says Syarafina. “We thought that would be super cute.”

As for the kinds of projects Cahyati Press hopes to welcome on a personal level, Kat would love to see artists print their comic books and graphic novels, or bring to life their experimental and non-fiction work. Meanwhile Syarafina wants to see more poetry chapbooks or even translators coming together to create multiple translations on the same text. In many ways, that is the beauty of Kat and Syarafina’s printer, the possibilities are limitless; its purpose can be defined by the community that uses it.

In just a short year, Cahyati Press has already made a huge impact. But when it began, the duo had no real guarantee it would resonate. “I think that more than anyone, Syarafina and I needed Cahyati Press,” Kat says. “It’s kind of an all-encompassing space, both in a physical sense and otherwise.” While the pair began the Press on “the assumption that we couldn’t be the only people on the island (or at least the Seminyak area) who needed a space to nerd out over books,” says Syarafina, it has grown into an essential part of the local creative landscape. We can’t wait to see where the Risograph printer takes Cahyati Press next.

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating from the University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, Indie magazine and design studio Evermade.

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