Smile Politely

The indelible imprint of artist, designer, and Misfit Marketer Madelyn Witruk

Madelyn Witruk is a well-known artist and designer residing in Urbana, IL. She is heavily involved in the art community of Urbana Champaign as the current president of CUDO and OhOk Shop owner. Witruk has been making art for as long as she can remember. She took several art classes in high school and continued her art education at Parkland College, where she fell in love with ceramics. This was also when she realized she could pursue graphic design as a profession. Witruk went on to take a few classes in drawing and painting at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD). Witruk returned to Champaign in 2017.

Ever since I met Witruk I could feel her energy and desire to get the most out any experience. Witruk is extremely hardworking and puts her heart and soul into everything she does. In her free time, she does more work. Witruk is a multimedia artist, having experience in traditional drawing mediums, such as pencil, charcoal and pastel, oil painting, woodworking, welding, ceramics, laser cutting, and digital art. Her love is fine art, specifically ceramics and painting. Witruk values bringing functional and permanent art into the world that can be shared and used by all. Witruk is currently working on creating an overarching theme for her artwork, which is inspired by traditional tattoo styles, as well as Art Nouveau.

Images: Three paintings depicting vessels, flowers, and figures of women in pastel colors. © Madelyn Witruk, Vessel Series, 2019.

Witruk leaves an imprint on the community not only through her art. She has worked at Polyvinyl Records for 1 ½ years, where she has designed merch for several bands, including Chris Farren. She has created shirts, hats, tote bags, coffee mugs, water bottles, coasters, stickers, and more. Witruk is well known for her illustrative poster designs that incorporate bright pastel colors and hand lettering. Working at Polyvinyl allowed Witruk to push herself as a designer by constantly creating.

Image: Digital graphic of a cake with blue frosting that displays information about a Polyvinyl Pop Up Event. Image courtesy of Madelyn Witruk.

The Champaign Urbana Design Organization, more frequently known as CUDO, is a group of designers and design enthusiasts. It is a community of people that can bring good design to the Champaign Urbana area. Witruk became president of CUDO in January 2019 and has organized several successful events in the past year, including the Post It Show, Designer AMA, and the Holiday Party. The Post It Show took place on July 26th, 2019 at Analog Gallery in Urbana. Participants filled a 3 x 3’ foam board with post it notes as a creative challenge. Each note could either be a separate drawing or they could be a fraction of a whole piece. The Designer AMA was hosted at Cafeteria & Company, where attendees could see the work of local designers, as well as ask them questions. Lastly, the Holiday Party was social event for all branches of CUDO — CUDO plays, PechaKucha, and now Misfit Market.

Image: Several people gathered around a table displaying prints and merchandise located in Cafeteria & Company. Photo by Madelyn Witruk.

Misfit Market was created in 2019 by Madelyn Witruk, Emmaline Fleener, and Apolonia Wielgus. The Misfit Holiday Market took place on Saturday, December 7th, 2019 at Cafeteria & Company and featured a wide variety of vendors, live music performances, and two workshops. Misfit is an immersive market experience that nurtures interaction between vendors, attendees, performers, and workshop leaders. The goal of Misfit is to bring a new type of event to Champaign Urbana that will unite makers and creative enthusiasts. Shopping handmade is extremely important to Witruk because it supports local makers and allows them to expand their craft, which simultaneously enhances the community. A reoccurring market allows for more interaction between consumers and vendors, as well as gives plenty of opportunity for multiple shops to showcase their products. The second market will be on Valentine’s Day.

Image: People perusing a variety of vendor displays at the Misfit Holiday Market inside Cafeteria & Company. Photo by Madelyn Witruk.

Misfit Valentine’s Night Market will be taking place on Friday, February 14th from 5 to 9 p.m. at Broadway Food Hall in Urbana. There will be handmade jewelry, ceramics, candles, prints, tiny valentines, and more. Workshops include hypno-affirmation done by hypnotherapist Caitlin McCoy and dance instruction by the Urbana Dance Company. Wine tasting will be provided by Analog. For Witruk, the goal is for the vendors to have a good time and to make a profit. From personal experience Witruk understands how challenging it can be to sell work and that is why she is working tirelessly to make the upcoming market a wonderful experience for all.

Image: Digital graphic by Madelyn Witruk depicting a red flower in the center and information about the Valentine’s Night Market around the edges. Image from Facebook event page

Witruk has a strong work ethic that allows her to work on multiple projects and events simultaneously. However, over the years she has realized, as do many artists, that she must take care of herself first. Witruk advises other artists and designers to not overextend creatively because it can negatively impact your physical and mental health. Knowing your limits, your worth, and your values as a creative are all essential to ensure a successful career.

Witruk also encourages others to “never stop learning” in their professions. As artists and designers, we must continuously strive to remain relevant in the industry. According to Witruk, there will always be new and better ways to do things. Pushing oneself to develop and foster new skills is challenging but necessary. Every January Witruk makes a list of skills she wishes to acquire by the end of the calendar year. For 2020, her goal is to learn animation, sign painting, and metalworking.  I am looking forward to seeing where the future takes this talented, ambitious, and kind hearted artist that I am fortunate to call one of my closest friends.

Misfit Valentine’s Night Market
Broadway Food Hall
401 N Broadway
February 14th, 5 to 9 p.m.

Top image: Woman with short hair smiles at the camera while sitting at Avionics/Page Roasting Company. Photo by Apolonia Wielgus.

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