Print Is Not Dead. No Really.

POSTED: 12 Jul 2018

At Singapore Art Book Fair two weekends ago, we were heartened to see for ourselves that print is well and truly #notdead (long live paper!). We believe the printed word, enhanced by beautiful typography and compelling layout, remains the richest medium to convey ideas that spark change and ultimately transform societies and economies.

In a toast to the fellow artists, thinkers, storytellers and innovators who attended, supported, followed (or missed) Singapore Art Book Fair, here’s a round-up of a weekend well spent, defined by an outpouring of creativity and an abundance of visual art and content.

This year’s fair attracted a well-rounded lineup from near and far, with over 60 local and international exhibitors (twice that of last year’s edition) coming together to showcase – in creative consultancy Do Not Design’s words – “the art and possibilities of print”. From punchy illustrations and powerful photography  to imaginative booklets and beautifully curated zines, a great variety of mediums laid claim to the enduring beauty and utility of print.

2018 marks the fifth edition of Singapore Art Book Fair and the first year it’s been independently organised, neither funded by nor affiliated with any external bodies. To celebrate its newfound freedom, #SGABF has replaced #SABF as the fair’s official hashtag.

That’s not the only change: in another first, #SGABF2018 “recalibrated its focus” by turning towards work that’s not only aesthetically pleasing, but provokes critical thinking and further discourse. To amplify ideas worth spreading beyond the SGABF weekend, we’ve shortlisted five exhibitors whose publications exemplify this new direction:

Independence: The History of Graphic Design in Singapore Since the 1960s

Published by The Design Society

The first book to trace the evolution of graphic design in Singapore, Independence documents the effects of the country’s economic goals on its design sector, the resilience of its design pioneers and the unbridled growth and promise of Singaporean design.

Pulp: A Short Biography of the Banished Book

Published by Swell

A decade-long project on the history of book destruction and censorship, Pulp is the perfect tribute to art book fairs, telling a powerful story of the book as a symbol of resistance.


Published by Volume Press

A Shanghai-based magazine about “self-discovery through travel”, LOST offers intentionally global perspectives. Its candidly written, bilingual stories explore the foreign and the familiar, delicately combining cross-cultural curiosity with universal themes of loneliness and introspection.


Published by Central Saint Martins

A biannual journal rich in in-depth analyses, critical essays and savvy art histories, Afterall has recently welcomed Ute Meta Bauer, the founding director of NTU Centre for Contemporary Art (the very venue of #SGABF2018) to its editorial team.

Magazine B

Published by JOH & COMPANY



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B is an ad-free monthly publication that dedicates each issue to the study of one global brand, sharing untold stories and insights that any reader “interested in brand marketing and management can leaf through with ease”.

These publications (and many, many more) point towards the unique ability of print to bring together diverse geographies, viewpoints and art forms. Yannick Bouillis, director of art book fair Offprint Paris, suggests that art books provide a kind of refuge for artists: “Although artists have less and less control of how their work is sold and exhibited [today], they can maintain their independence through publishing.”
Apart from artists, audiences also have much to gain from print, especially when broaching specialised subject matters. Dense texts and thoughtful themes benefit greatly from the formal qualities of print as a highly tactile and durable medium, and interesting visual elements go a long way in improving the legibility and enjoyability of even the most serious content. Now who said print is dead?

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