What is Fully Booked?
Fully Booked is a unique international platform for creative publications with a focus on artists’ books from the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia (MENASA region), anchored by the annual Dubai art book fair. The flagship namesake fair—the first of its kind in the Gulf—premiered in 2017 during Dubai Art Week. Leading up to the inaugural fair, we extensively researched and familiarized ourselves with arts publishers throughout the wide and varying regions, seeing Dubai as a central hub. We felt strongly that these disperse artists, publishers, designers, writers and collectives could benefit from and wanted to engage in this focused event. We plan to present the third annual fair this coming March 2019.
Why art books and art book fairs, and what are they?
Artists’ books or art books can be described as creative projects or exhibitions designed for the format of a book. They are unique art projects in their own right and are created all around the world. Many emerging artists see this medium, printed works, and art book fairs, as a chance to self-produce independent projects, and connect to artists who share their interests. From our base in New York, we connected and grew out of a community that formed around art book fairs. Printed Matter’s annual New York Art Book Fair premiered in 2004 and now draws about 40,000 visitors per year. Artists and publishers have been inspired by this format for decades as a means to support their local communities.
Contemporary publications, including books, magazines, zines, posters, and artists’ books, encapsulate a practice that is an empowering platform for dialogue and exchange, one that is financially accessible, collaborative, and is inclusive of multidisciplinary designers and collectives. These materials are generally energetically charged, fringe-focused, produced in small quantities, and distributed only by the makers themselves or at outlets such as pop-up events and fairs.
The effort to introduce an art book fair to Dubai Art Week has proven to have a strong resonance in local and regional creative cultures, and allows for inclusion of a broad range of artists from around the world. Fully Booked in 2017 and 2018 shared and highlighted the region's robust growing artistic and cultural scene to wide audiences.
What does Fully Booked do outside of the annual Dubai art book fair?
What began as a singular event has organically flourished into a multi-faceted project and small business that showcases and supports 200+ artists’ and designers’ creative work, focusing on the print medium. Our several operational areas of focus include:
- Supporting and producing programming at other inaugural art book fairs, including the New Delhi Art Book Fair in India, Art Books Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, the Bon Art Book Fair in Keresht, Iran.
- Developing acquisition-based relationships and special archives with over 10 collections, institutional/museum libraries, archives, and independent studios.
- Generating distribution channels for creative publishers tied to the MENASA region through social media coverage and by stocking and selling their work at multiple international art book fairs, where Fully Booked participates as a vendor/exhibitor. We have been a vendor in over 13 art book fairs in Beijing, Boston, Chicago, New Haven, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Vancouver.
- Producing new Fully Booked Editions with artists, designers, and publishers within our MENASA-relevant network such as the rewards that we are offering during this Kickstarter campaign.
Fully Booked’s identity is strongly based in the effort to continuously support artists and to not be held back by borders or financial barriers. From our commissioned artist projects to custom programs and workshops, the aim of the March 2019 fair is to further a platform that creators have embraced and can inhabit on all levels.
About Fully Booked Dubai Art Book Fair 2019
We will produce the third (!) annual Fully Booked Dubai Art Book Fair during Dubai Art Week in March 2019, building upon our relationships with regional publishers, local institutions, and our kind and supportive cultural partners.
The 2019 fair promises to feature approximately 40+ international publisher-vendors, plus workshops and programs by local, regional, and international artists, who encourage continuous creativity and innovation with their peers. We will again ask art book makers from all around the globe to mail in their titles, which will be on display in the fair’s space during Art Week. The archive of these titles from past fairs continues to be a resource to creatives, students, and others in its permanent local home at the Fikra Design Campus in Sharjah, UAE. The tradition of cultivating this art book library will continue in subsequent fairs and serve future generations.
The fair’s open call for exhibitors and vendors is intended to reach the widest network possible, disseminated through diverse channels and media outlets, aided by the support of our international Advisory Circle. The open call is strongly tied to Fully Booked’s values, in that the efforts are directed by an energetic and enthusiastic public base of grassroots projects and publications, many of which are known and many more of which are yet to be discovered.
Crowdfunded support for this year’s fair is crucially aligned with Fully Booked’s values, as this event and platform continues to be a community-led and -oriented, non-profit making initiative that seeks to make connections between not-so-distant-after-all-neighbors.
Fully Booked Benefit Editions, produced in collaboration with various talented creatives, are premiering as exclusive rewards, offered for contributing to the 2019 fair’s campaign. We are excited and grateful to commission artist and designer friends of Fully Booked to produce these rewards, which include stickers, risograph prints, a silk screened tote bag, a custom long-sleeve designer shirt, and a dye-sublimation photographic metal plate edition.
About the Benefit Edition Rewards
- Continue planning meetings with Fully Booked Advisory Circle
- Launch open call for 2019 fair vendors
- Kickstarter is funded (inshallah)
- Priority deadline applications for 2019 fair are received; review early applications & excellency grant applications
- Design continues on fair collateral, including print guides and artist commissions
- Grants awarded to applicants
- Produce Benefit Editions/Kickstarter Rewards
- Kickstarter Rewards sent to campaign backers
- Program for 2019 fair is confirmed and announced, including vendors, exhibitors, and key programming partners
- Co-directors arrive and begin event installation in Dubai
- Design/communications/program schedule is set
- Vendors arrive in Dubai to set up for the 2019 fair
Dubai Art Week 2019
Sunday March 17: Final vendor set up and installation. Monday March 18: Fully Booked Opening Night. Fully Booked continues throughout the week concluding on March 23. De-installation in the following days .
If we exceed our goal, we will be able to provide more stipends to talented publishers, and work towards producing future editions of the fair.
Check out more about Fully Booked at www.fullybooked.ae and on IG @fullybooked.ae
Risks and challenges
Each fair and project we produce involves many challenges and hard work. But this isn’t our first rodeo, so we expect that the risks associated with producing the third annual fair will be relatively minimal or may be avoided—we hope for a seamless fair organization process. We acknowledge the need to be flexible and modify our plans between now and March to accommodate reasonable partner interests, current events, and newfound publishers and opportunities.
Photography by Helga Traxler. Video by Arx Pictures.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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