In 2013, inspired by the growing Maker Movement, The Made Fest emerged as a new feature of PYGMALION. Billed as "a two-day, outdoor curated marketplace featuring handmade and vintage sellers" Made Fest continues to showcase local talent while also bringing artist and makers from surrounding areas.
Made Fest hits the sweet spot between diverse and intimate. You can stop and talk to the artists, take your time and not worry that you won't have time to see everything that this year's roster has to offer.
This year's vendors include some names you might recognize if you follow the arts section (Lydia Puddicombe, XX Medium, Red Ember Forge, and Fresh Press Studio) as well as some you'll happily meet for the first time.
The mix is pretty diverse this year. That's a testament to how much locally-made/small business magic is brewing in our midst and how the concept of "made" is sweeping into new territory. You can meet the artists of Vintage Karma Tattoo, check out the legendary indie label Polyvinyl Records, or explore the latest in sustainable paper with the folks from Fresh Press. And let's give it up for the talented Jodi Lynn of Jodi Lynn's Emporium of Doodles, who is making the trip from in all the way from Hamtramck, Michigan. I can't wait to snag some of her coloring pages and tees.
In reading this year's maker bios, I was immediately drawn to Poppy and Pinecone and this handmade card that hit me at my core. But as I dug deeper, I discovered that artist Elisabeth Clem created a wonderfully innovative body of work she calls "geography art." Inspired by the unique shapes of our United States, she creates unique love letters to a wide range of locales. This is the kind of surprise that makes the Made Fest experience so rich. You may catch a glance of something interesting, step into the booth, and discover something completely different. Many of these makers are double or triple threats, working in more than style or medium.
Choose your Made Fest strategy. Are you spontaneous? Just drop by and see what catches your eye. Maybe you're a serious planner. Do your research on the Made Fest website, scope out your faves, make your list and stick to it. I've taken both approaches to local art fairs this year and come home with great finds every time. And speaking of lists, Made Fest is a great place to start your holiday shopping and share your love for all things handmade. You might even inspire your friends to support local makers, or better yet, become makers themselves. From beard oil to vintage clothes, from woodcut illustrations to pottery and parasite pins, there's something for everyone to take home, enjoy, and be inspired by.
Last but not least, Made Fest is social, both IRL and across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. So be sure to connect with the artists and makers you admire, give them love, and tag your favorite finds. I'm excited to see what catches your eye.
We are lucky to have Made Fest, along with the so many other robust arts festivals in our town. Artists work hard to prepare and pay good money to set up shop. So let's give them a reason to come back next year.
And for those think that maker fests are all soaps and scarves, or that they don't occasionally take a dive into dangerous and deep waters, I'll just leave this here. See you at Made Fest.
The Made Fest
Goodwin Ave, between Nevada and Oregon, Urbana
September 27th, 5 to 11 p.m.
September 28th, 3 to 10 p.m.