Crafty Bastards Fest.

October 1, 2007 at 2:09 am 1 comment

So today I had an amazing time with my friends at the Etsy.com Crafty Bastards festival in Adams Morgan. It was a craft sale like no other I had ever been to. If you’re not familiar with the site, a lot of people sell things that they make by hand and there’s a lot of really cool stuff. When I first found out about it this summer (pretty late but don’t feel bad if you’re hearing about it now), I assumed it was kind of an insular community: people selling fuzzy monster dolls to each other. But when I went today, it was clearly a much bigger thing attached to giant, important ideas.

Crafts have always had a place in American culture, but until recently, they were kind of antiquated; nostalgic; definitely not cool. But somehow, maybe as a reaction to an all consuming capitalist mentality and overwhelming, invasive advertising (or maybe as an itch to just make something), it’s become cool. And it’s not just of bunch of freak craftspeople. Ubber hip companies like American Apparel make logo-less clothing that’s made in a “vertically integrated” way to avoid sweatshop guilt. Then any fool with a silk-screen can make a crazy cool shirt on it and viola! A shirt that is comfortable, guilt-free, creative, and cool. And it’s not just shirts; I was astounded by all the cool stuff I saw. I could only snap a few shots on my second lap around while trying to keep up.

If you watch Lost (my housemates and I have been too much maybe) you’ll recognize these scoundrels. And it only gets better from here. DCist had a great post on it. Apparently, the event has grown a lot in these first few years and now the selection process is rigorous to choose the just over 100 vendors.

These custom-painted shoes really impressed us. They were so fly they weren’t even for sale.

As someone who loves design and illustration, I could have looked for hours. The detail on some of these things blew me away. I love this journal, but how many journals does one need?

These guys both make posters for shows locally. Their work is really great and reminds me of a so many things that we talk about in my Graphic Design History class. It’s surprising how old the poster is and how it remains the best way to communicate certain ideas. It’s also kind of ironic that posters are now such a commodity that they are made so they will valuable to sell.

The new truth of hip marketing: the more cultural cache you can deliver, the better the product. Flava-Flav knew he was cool when he wore that huge clock, and now you can too!

Over and over today I saw what my prof. keeps talking about in the cyclical nature of technology. The example he always uses is how text-messaging resembles telegram speak because of the natural constraints of the technology. Here, there’s artists and crafts-people turning back to flat, printed designs in only a few colors because they are engaging, dynamic, and well, cool. The above are postcards. Did and artist make them? Yes. Are they art? Yes. Can you mail them with a stamp? Yes. The execution here might be a bit more post-modern, but I think similar ideas are at work.

Finally, BANG. Here I was compelled to buy a t-shirt that was more than I’ve ever spent on a t-shirt, but it’s awesome! They do exactly what I was just talking about by blowing up ornate, wood-cut style letter forms and other designs and putting them on things that people want: tote bags, t-shirts, jewelry. And you can see from their site that it works! My roommate got an “H” for her name, and it’s perfect. People just crowded this tent constantly because they really have the formula down. It’s an interesting direction and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.

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Entry filed under: art.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. A Few Selected Crafty Bastards « Josh Kramer Blog  |  October 12, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    […] that have happened recently. So Crafty Bastards is a twice annual fair for people who make things. Last year, I was blown away by the diversity and creativity. This year, I still thought it was cool, but realized that the whole fun of it is probably walking […]

    Reply

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Shit Just Got Real

Josh Kramer is a blogger, cartoonist, journalist, etc. I'm the Editor of The Cartoon Picayune. I live in Washington, DC and I just graduated from the Center for Cartoon Studies. See work by me and my classmates.

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