Monday, September 13, 2010

Renegade Season in Chicago

This past weekend was Chicago's Summer Renegade Craft Fair! As opposed to the winter fair, at which Lucy and I shared a booth, the summer fair is out-doors. And even though the weather here has been beyond gorgeous and fall like all week, Sunday was determined to be the hottest day known to humans. Despite being sweaty messes, we had a blast- and dropped a fair chunk of change. Seriously, though? Between the heat and the hordes of beer drinking customers, Lucy and I didn't really envy the merchants.

I only walked away with one purchase, but I WANTED to walk away with a lot more! Here are some highlights from from the veritable stack of business cards that came home in my pocket:

1. Handbag with amazing front pockets! By Cut Out And Collect

That's right: those front pockets are like skirt pockets- fully lined, baby!

2. Adorable Charm Necklaces by Michelle Hartney.

3. Skull Dip Bowl by No Tengo Miedo Clay.

(For the Murder Credenza, clearly.)

4. Embroidered Cards by Despina Papadeas.

(An excellent sentiment.)

5. Stitched leather wallets by Robbie Moto.

A friend once told me that she would never vote for a political candidate who hadn't personally shaken her hand. At the time, the notion seemed a little impractical. But it stuck with me and I slowly started thinking that way about things other than politics. There is a lot of stuff in the world and we, as consumers, are so often disconnected from the makers and the designers and, really, any part of the process. Being able to meet and talk to so many prolific artists/designers/craftspeople at an event like the Renegade Craft Fair allowed me to feel connected what I was buying. And I like that.

In a lot of ways I am extremely intimidated by the Indie-craft movement and it would have been very possible to be completely knocked-out by Renegade: there is JUST SO MUCH STUFF. (Not to mention that a lot of it looks really similar...) As a craftsperson trying to make it out there in the carnivorous world, how am I supposed to carve out a place for myself? Should I make objects that are just like everyone else's because the imagery will be automatically popular? Or should I gamble on going in a different direction? Finding a balance between the two has been an elusive task over the past few years.

But instead of coming home, drinking straight from the bottle of Kraken and despair... this year I decided to be energized by the crazy hoards and the boatloads of owls and squids and pennant flags. So, in the words of Voldemort from the Harry Potter Musical,

"Look out world, I'm gonna getcha."

Right after I take a 4 day nap.


jess said...

Nora, you make some very on point observations and ask excellent questions.

I think it's ok to participate in trends, but it's also important to bring something new to the table. Give people a reason to remember you, and they'll want to come back even after a trend has ebbed.

Most importantly, keep on keepin' on!

mizzshelley said...

LOVE all things robbiemoto! her line (and lots of other modern hand-crafteds) available at