Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Renegade Craft Fair: Out of the studio and into the spotlight


Handmade petite paper flowers by Blooms in the Air artist Ji Kim
were on display at the Renegade Craft Fair in San Francisco.

The Renegade Craft Fair, which came to San Francisco's Fort Mason last weekend, brought out hundreds of artists and craft makers from their studios and into the spotlight to celebrate all things handmade in a variety of media.

Since its debut in 2003, the Renegade Craft Fair has showcased the best and brightest in Etsy indie craft and design, and it's become a major player in a booming DIY (Do It Yourself) craft movement in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Each year, the Renegade Craft Fair visits five U.S. cities (Austin, Brooklyn, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco) plus London. Here, and in other cities, Renegade Craft Fair events are held in both summer and winter months. The San Francisco summer happening comes in late July while the winter event occurs in early December, just in time for the Christmas holidays. I've been a Renegade Craft Fair goer for the past three summers, and it's become one of my favorite San Francisco things to do.

From new and traditional to modern and innovative, there's always a diversity of art and style at the Renegade Craft Fair. It's interesting to see what's new and hip in the areas of art, clothing, jewelry, photography, quilts, toys and other knick-knacks -- and to be able to meet and mingle with the artists behind these creations.

On Sunday, thousands gathered inside the Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason to see over 250 modern makers of art. There were arts and crafts enthusiasts, bloggers, media scouts and taste makers -- even savvy shoppers stocking up early on unique, artist-created gifts for the end of the year holidays.

Among the hundreds of handmade goods I perused at this year's San Francisco Renegade Craft Fair were:

  • fresh butter crunch treats from p.o.p. candy;
  • neat things for the house from the recoverie
  • handmade greeting cards "sure to make 'em laugh" from Julie Ann Art
  • handcrafted leather goods and jewelry focusing on creating beautiful, functional and timeless accessories from btwn wind & water
  • handmade jams and pickles from lemon bird
  • completely conscious clothing created with sustainable materials from field day
  • beautiful, functional things for the curated home from Nell & Mary.  
Of the 2013 Renegade San Francisco craft makers, two garnered my attention for different reasons:

Mass transit made art by LinePosters.
First, LinePosters, a popular Brooklyn, N.Y.-based poster and apparel group co-founded by Cayla Ferari and John Brezicky, whose moniker "mass transit made art" drew me in because of my interest in mass transit and city maps.

LinePosters creates posters, letterpress cards and t-shirts of "highly stylized mass transit maps from iconic cities around the globe." Among them, transit maps of Chicago, New York, San Francisco, London and Paris caught my eye. (Earlier this month, I rode the Chicago "L" trains; I regularly ride BART to go back-and-forth between Oakland and San Francisco; and I love the London Underground and Paris Metro!)

As I bought four LinePosters letterpress cards (London, New York, Paris and San Francisco), I briefly chatted with one of the co-founders, Cayla Ferari, to learn more about what inspired her to turn mass transit maps into art. Then, I took the time to congratulate Cayla on what I thought was a truly original idea. In turn, she shared with me about how Oakland reminded her of Brooklyn, because both shared an up-and-coming art, food and culture scene despite often being over-shadowed by their bigger, neighboring cities of Manhattan and San Francisco.

Second, Blooms in the Air (aka BITA) is a petite and whimsical handmade paper flower shop created by a young and free-spirited southern Californian artist, Ji Kim. In visiting Ji's booth, it was evident that her flowers not only are pretty; they are always in season and in style, too.

On her website, Ji describes her art of paper flowers and what inspires her to create them. "The shop came to life when a desire to create something beautiful using my own two hands grew too big to ignore," says Ji. "BITA believes in the simple, honest joy that flowers give and hope that the inspired arrangements will leave you and your loved ones smiling."

In talking with Ji, I learned how she blends her creative talents with her attention to detail that enables her to create simple, well-crafted floral keepsakes. It explains why she describes herself as an archi-designer, an architect and designer who is a creative type, too. Although I did not buy any paper flowers on this day, I gained an appreciation for why Ji loves her art and enjoys talking to those interested in learning more about the beauty and joy of her art making.

Photo of Blooms in the Air by Michael Dickens, copyright 2013.
Photo of San Francisco mass transit made art courtesy of LinePosters.com.

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