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Northampton Print & Book Fair

by Zoárd Wells Tyeklár

I had the pleasure of sharing the A.P.E. Gallery this past weekend with a multitude of amazing artists and publication houses at the 2nd annual Northampton Print & Book Fair (NPBF). This year, NPBF was part of a much larger two-day print extravaganza, Printworks2016, that also included the 14th (!) Annual Print Fair North hosted by Zea Mays Printmaking and a live printmaking demonstration.

Northampton Print & Book FairLyell Castonguay from BIG INK spearheaded the large format woodblock printing project. He’s been bringing together artists of all sorts to carve massive woodblocks (at least 24” x 36” in size) and then amass at a local printshop (like ZMP) with as many as a dozen at a time to help print a short edition of each block. It takes a lot of logistics, coordination and teamwork.

Northampton Print & Book Fair | Selfish Magazine (image: Erin and Taylor of Selfish Magazine)

Much like the previous event I wrote about, there were all kinds of cool and talented people around. I got to meet a lot of really interesting people like Erin and Taylor from Selfish Magazine and we talked about the very basic problem of paying artists for their work. In some creative fields like writing, it’s near impossible to get a deal without agents representing your work. Independent publishers can break those walls down! Selfish Magazine is bi-yearly publication that brings together female-identifying artists and writers to create for the sake of creation and be totally unapologetic. Really awesome and inspiring stuff.

Northampton Print & Book Fair | Gentlepersons Gently(image: Driton and Chris of Gentlepersons Gently)

Driton and Chris of Gentlepersons Gently were also tabling their collaborative and individual wares. These guys know how to hustle; I see them at virtually every fair or independent market! They’re a designer/illustrator duo with some strange ideas. “We’re mostly trying to see if other people think our inside jokes are funny.” From art zines to pillows, t-shirts to engraved sewing scissors, they have a lot of really fun stuff.

Northampton Print & Book Fair | Sean Sawicki(image: Sean Sawick)

I ran into my buddy Sean Sawicki a poet and artist active in the Pioneer Valley community. He had a couple great new art zines which were traded for stuff I had been working on all summer. It was great to touch base with another artist who shares an artistic vision very similar to my own. We talked about the fair and how it’s kind of like Christmas, where all your art family are in town for a couple days, except we don’t have to worry about making excuses to your overpowering uncle as to why “your life isn’t going anywhere.”

Northampton Print & Book Fair | (image: Emily of ILSSA)

I was tabling right next to Emily of ILSSA: Impractical Labor in Service of the Speculative Arts which is a “membership organization for those who use obsolete technology in conceptual or experimental ways.” They look to help improve the “spiritual working conditions” of artists who use methods that are “out of date” and therefore lack monetary value. Through mail-in surveys, which are these beautifully designed forms, they hope to help the individual artists reflect on their practice. All their reading materials, workbooks, survey forms were created using a Risograph or are letterpress printed. It was interesting to me to talk with the fellow artists, the publishers and an actual union dedicated to helping artists determine the value of their practice!

Northampton Print & Book Fair(image: packed inside the A.P.E. Gallery!)

There was so much amazing talent in that gallery space! I manage to make it to a lot of tables and introduce myself and make a trade before the caffeine-addled anxiety became too much for me to handle. These events are so great for networking and making new friends. I’m already looking forward to next year!

Next week I’ll be telling you guys about the amazing fair in Portland, Maine, I just got back from. See you then!

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