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Books as art at the Boston Art Book Fair

From Nov. 11-12, the Boston Art Book fair will feature more than 140 artists at the Cyclorama.

Joe Walsh Studio at the 2022 Boston Art Book Fair.Melissa Blackall

The words art book may conjure a large, photo-heavy monograph devoted to a single artist, but at the Boston Art Book Fair, coming to the South End’s Cyclorama, art books are, in the broadest terms, simply books as art. .

Displayed at the fair will be “intricate, wonderful books,” made by artists, and also “flipbooks, stickers, posters, as well as extraordinary sculptural pieces,” said Heshan de Silva-Weeramuni, Boston Center for the Art’s senior director of marketing and communications.

“I believe our 2018 poster describes [an art book] as an incomplete compendium of esoteric, analog materials,” said Oliver Mak, co-founder of the free event coming to the South End’s Cyclorama Nov. 11-12. Mak, founding partner of the retail clothing store Bodega, has been putting on the Boston Art Book Fair with the BCA, a community organization that supports artists through programs and artist residencies, since 2017.


This year’s fair kicks off with a ticketed preview party on Friday, Nov. 10, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.. There will be live music by local DJ Johnny Stevens, an interactive animation experience by Gif-O-Graf, drinks, and snacks.

More than 140 artists, many of them local, will sell their work at the fair on Saturday from noon to 7 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.—you can also preregister online to attend free workshops and discussions. Some artists, such as Netherlands-based illustrator and artist Burning Desk, travel far to table at the fair.

Featured illustrators like Burning Desk have made full-time careers out of their art form. Roxbury-based Napoleon Jones-Henderson, who has been tabling at the event since 2019, has won awards and sustained himself making art for decades. But not all creators featured in the fair are as established.

“You will find artists who have been working for decades on art books that are specific, sculptural objects that they sell into museum quality collections at expensive price points,” said Randi Hopkins, BCA’s director of visual arts. “And then you’ll find the MassArt zine-scene students who table and have a very DIY quality [to their art].”


When thinking of those students and young artists, Mak said the acronym “FUBU” comes to mind, meaning “For Us, By Us.” “I think all of us who got involved and succeeded in building careers in art are just trying to make it so there’s another generation that can do this as well and possibly have an easier time. So for me, I see it as something I made for the younger version of myself,” Mak said.

“Art should never be something that we should put a nice gold frame around,” said de Silva-Weeramuni. “It’s for everyone.”

Boston Art Book Fair. Nov. 11-12. Free; preview party, $35. Cyclorama of Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont St.

This story has been updated to add Randi Hopkins’ title.

Elena Giardina can be reached at