Elevate Difference

Arts and Crafts Market (8/30/2008)

Long Beach, California

These are tough times we’re living in, and it seems as if it has become increasingly rare for people to act out of the kindness of their hearts and the courage of their convictions. The economy is failing, the country is on the cusp of one of the most important presidential elections in American history, an ongoing war is costing the country trillions of dollars and many of us have to choose between paying the electricity bill and putting food on the table. So, what can we do in these times of great hardship? Well, Lisa Vasquez, founder of Pug Clothing, spent a year turning her vision for an Arts and Crafts Market into reality.

“I initially decided to start the Arts and Crafts Market because I began making and selling my own tote bags and finding a way to sell them was really hard. I wanted to put something together at my house so that I could sell my bags, and other artists and vendors who try to independently make a profit could showcase their talents as well. I wanted the event to seem cool and enticing, so I incorporated music, food, and drinks and had it at night time. The way I originally described the concept to people was by saying it was going to be like a ‘party at a swap meet’,” Vasquez said.

Thus, Vasquez’s Arts and Crafts Market was born. The first was held in April of 2008 in Baldwin Park, CA. The gathering, which features about a dozen vendors, was such a success that Vasquez put together another one in August. “I was originally only going to have one Arts and Crafts Market. I never planned on putting together another one, but the vendors were interested in doing it again so we decided to put together another one this past August, which was in Long Beach. We’re definitely going to have a third market, though I don’t plan on always having them in different places. The next one will once again be at my house in Baldwin Park,” Vasquez said.

The vendors featured a wide array of artwork ranging in style from kitschy crafts—such as the homemade dolls and stencil drawings by Suemi and Steve Guerra, the brother and sister team that make up Tiragomas—to the more polished designs of Electricidad Bags (see photo), which are designed and hand sewn by best friends Julie Ruiz and Viviana Covarrubias. Other artists who sold their work included painter Asia Celdera and sketch artist and photographer Rudy Vasquez, who pulled double duty as an organizer for the event.

Vasquez’s Arts and Crafts Market, much like her clothing line, is a labor of love, and there’s something distinctly beautiful about a person who is willing to deal with the stress of putting together an event for no other reason than the strongly held belief that local artists should have a place where they can display and sell their art. “It’s hard to make a profit if you’re not a well-established company, especially for those of us who make everything ourselves. On a personal level, I see the Market as an accomplishment. I’m proud that I’ve created a way to sell the things I make with my own hands, instead of just giving up on it,” Vasquez said. Despite her best efforts, the Market hasn’t been a lucrative endeavor for Vasquez, her partner Rudy, or any of the artists involved, but to them that’s really not the point. In these times of economic hardship, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. We might as well all take a lesson from Vasquez’s playbook and do something we love, whether the money follows or not.

Photo credit: Grisel Leyva

Written by: Tina Vasquez, November 10th 2008

This is what I call a talented bunch. Thanks a bunch Tina!