Illustration by Julianna Swaney
I started the Art Star Craft Bazaar in Philadelphia with my friend and now business partner, Erin Waxman, in the summer of 2003. We had both recently graduated from Tyler School of Art. Me with a BFA in ceramics (’00) and Erin with one in jewelry (’99). After graduation our lives quickly shifted from working in our studios at school every day and completely focusing on our art, which we took for granted, to working a “real” job that we hated but needed to pay our rent. We would often come home too exhausted to even think about making art and were struggling to find the spare time to focus on it again. The ingrained art school guilt of not being in the studio all the time began to eat away at us and the everyday grind was keeping us further from what we wanted to do most – make art.
Candy Coated silkscreen studio
At the time, there weren’t many galleries/boutiques in Philadelphia that sold the type of work we (and our friends) were creating and the only craft shows in the area were either not our aesthetic (think country crafts, or anything described as whimsical), not the quality level (guitar pick earrings, crochet tissue box covers) or too expensive (museum craft shows held at the convention center). The Museum Craft shows were the best fit, but the cost of a booth at one of these shows were out of our reach, so we decided to create our own craft show and charge vendors an affordable rate to set up and sell their goods. In 2003 the Art Star Craft Bazaar was born. The first year was small. We only had 20 vendors, the show wasn’t juried and consisted mostly of our friends (and friends of friends) and it was held in a stuffy church basement over the course of a few weeks in the summer. It was a no frills show, but people loved it b/c the show reflected the independent craft movement that was born online and growing across the country. It was new and exciting. Young talented artists were making cool, affordable crafts that you actually wanted to buy. There are a ton of art schools in Philadelphia so finding talented vendors to participate was easy. Our inbox was flooded with requests from vendors to participate. We realized we were onto something.
Since that time our show has grown tremendously and we learned so much along the way. The Art Star Craft Bazaar is now a nationally recognized, award winning and competitive show that hosts over 120 talented artists/crafters from across the country each Mother’s Day Weekend at Penn’s Landing Great Plaza in Philadelphia. Our spring bazaar also includes live music from local bands and interactive craft booths where you can make something and take it home for free! We recently decided to host a Fall Art Star Craft Bazaar, which will be a bit smaller than our spring show (60 vendors + Interactive Craft Booths) and held indoors at the 23rd Street Armory here in Philly on November 8th + 9th. Shoppers can expect a diverse selection of art/craft vendors who will be selling high quality goods that reflect our unique and quirky aesthetic. There will also be interactive craft booths and a variety of food trucks. Our bazaars are truly a celebration of the growing independent craft community. If you are in or around Philadelphia, we hope you will consider stopping by!
Shortly after we started the bazaar we opened up a Gallery/Boutique called Art Star where we sell work by many ASCB artists year round. We started all this so we could make our work full time and have a venue to sell it at. It is funny b/c now running the bazaars and the store is our full time job. We still don’t have time to make work but we are okay with that. We found something that we truly love doing. The store and our shows feel like an art project and a collaboration between all the artists we have ever worked with. Plus, we feel good helping talented artists make a living doing what they were born to do – make art.
Connect with Megan & Art Star Craft Bazaar
Megan Brewster graduated from Tyler School of Art in 2000 with a BFA in ceramics. She started the Art Star Craft Bazaar in 2003 with fellow Tyler grad Erin Waxman. In 2004 the duo opened up their Brick n’ Mortar shop called Art Star, which sells a wide range of handmade goods by artists from across the US. She knits a line of accessories under the name Scout Handknits. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and two cuddly cats.
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