Chris Fritton’s name might not be too recognizable to many people, but his impact on the community has been seen in Buffalo for years. Fritton organizes the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair (now coming up on its 9th year), an annual event held at the Karpeles Manuscript Library on Porter Ave. The fair brings together zinesters, poets, artists, publishers, printmakers, writers and more in a free, two-day celebration of all things small press including workshops, readings, and vendors selling their wares. He is also the former Studio Director at the Western New York Book Arts Center (WNYBAC), a 501(c)3 educational non-profit organization dedicated to the “art of the book” through printmaking practices such as letterpress, screen-printing, bookbinding, and paper making. With over a decade of writing, bookmaking and writing under his belt, Fritton is starting a new chapter in his life post-WNYBAC by taking his love of printmaking and the analog on the road with him.
Dubbed “The Itinerant Printer,” Fritton is planning a year-long trip to visit 100 printshops in 48 states to bring awareness to the resurgence of print media in the hands of a thriving community passionate about their craft. To help fund this endeavor, he launched an Indiegogo campaign to primarily cover expenses such as travel costs and mailing of printed creations to supporters. This project is entirely documentary in style; Fritton is using the resources at each letterpress print shop to create unique prints in the form of postcards to be sent to supporters, using social media to share the stories and backgrounds of these shops, and eventually the project will eventually culminate in the creation of a coffee table book chronicling the entire journey. Through an interactive project such as this, an entire community of creators will be given a chance to share their love of keeping printmaking alive and well. Fritton’s Indiegogo campaign is active until January 2nd, 2015 with a $20,000 goal, and even if he does not reach his amount, he is still planning on undertaking the trek and going as far as he can. The story of those who are reviving the handmade is far too important not to share.