Publications and Multiples Fair, happening April 1-2 at Baltimore Design School.

Baltimore’s Annual Publications and Multiples Fair, or PMF, is an annual exposition of contemporary artist publications, prints, sculptures, jewelry, textiles and all things deemed worthy of the description “produced in multiple.”

This loose definition covers products ranging from digitally printed books of poetry, comic and stories to limited-release rock albums and hand-thrown pottery. Along with the more traditionally defined editions and multiples at this year’s fair, there are just as many creative interpretations of the word. A local quilter will sell hand-stitched, naturally dyed pieces, for instance. A screen printer counts t-shirts as an edition.

Multiples can be a hard thing to define when discussing hand made work, as the human hand’s involvement is often the very thing adding allure to a product. Part of the fun at this fair is to see how artists interpret the guidelines.

Printed and Sewn Pouches by Designs

Produced by Open Space, the event celebrates its eighth year this weekend. It is free to attend, and due to its size is now hosted at the Baltimore Design School in Station North Arts District.

PMF has grown from just 15 vendors in its first year to 150 last year. Taking up one weekend each spring (this year, April 1-2), the fair often coincides with the more high-end Contemporary Print Fair at the Baltimore Museum of Art (this year, March 27-29), making the art of printmaking the prime focus of Baltimore’s greater art scene for a short while each year. While the latter event attracts well-established commercial galleries and fine-art presses, PMF acts as a beacon for independent artists and small presses across the country and offers a more digestible sales point for many shoppers.

A lecture at the Publications and Multiples Fair, 2016

The organizers of PMF emphasize networking during and around the event. The collective hosts artists traveling from both coasts selling wares and publications, and encourages them to stay by fostering creative contact and mingling.

In addition to the two-day sale of prints and publications, recent fairs have included on-site programming throughout the weekend. Panel discussions on contemporary identity issues, poetry readings, musical performances, motivational speeches and artist talks take place in the same building as the fair itself.

For artists, it provides an invaluable opportunity to share ideas and form partnerships. For visitors who just want to shop and aren’t interested in the additional programming, there are two days of excellent shopping and the chance to purchase original artwork, straight from the hands making it, one piece at a time.

The 8th Annual Publications and Multiples Fair will be held on April 1-2 from 12-6 p.m. at Baltimore Design School, located at 1500 Barclay St. Entry is free to all. 

Rachel Bone

Rachel Bone is a regular contributor to the Baltimore Fishbowl.