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It's A Handmade Revolution At Maker's Arcade Saturday In Barrio Logan

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April 24, 2014 12:58 p.m.


Jen Byard is a designer and owner of Thread and Arrow, and a member of Handmade Revolution, the group who is putting on the Maker's Arcade.

Colleen Townend is a jewelry artist and a member of Handmade Revolution.

Valentine Viannay is a painter and silk screen artist whose silk screened dish towels and scarves can be found in shops around San Diego.

Related Story: It's A Handmade Revolution At Maker's Arcade Saturday In Barrio Logan


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition, I am Maureen Cavanaugh. For a growing number of San Diegans, making handcrafted objects is more than just a hobby. The DIY movement has put a new spotlight on the arts and crafts, and the internet has provided a new way to market those goods. In fact, so many people are busy making housewares, accessories, jewelry, that local artisan shows are starting to be juried and curated. Major arts and crafts market will take place in San Diego this weekend, it is called Maker's Arcade. I would like to welcome my guests, Jen Byard, a designer and owner of Thread and Arrow, and a member of Handmade Revolution, the group that is putting on Maker's Arcade. Welcome to the show. And Colleen Townend is a jewelry artist and a member of Handmade Revolution, Colleen, welcome. Valentine Viannay is a painter and silkscreen artist whose silkscreened dish towels and scarves can be found in shops around San Diego. Welcome to the program. Jen, tell me about the Maker's Arcade. This Saturday you have twenty-five vendors selling their handmade items, what kind of items are you going to see there?

JEN BYARD: We have a great arrangement of items, we have beautiful vintage and modern inspired jewelry, we have silkscreened and embroidered handmade goods, with pillows and other home accessories, children's clothing, adult clothing and scarves, a very wide array of different products, we have 2 to 3 vendors in each category.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You said they are handmade, are they pricey?

JEN BYARD: It is a wide range, you can get anything from $5 to a hundred two a hundred fifty dollars. There's something for everyone.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: As I said this is a juried and curated her arcade. What were you looking for when you looked for people who were applying to be sellers?

JEN BYARD: First of all, it has the something made locally and handmade and not mass-produced, and we were also looking for some people who have a good following in San Diego, so that we can make sure that the show had a great different array of ages and people.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Did you ever have to turn away people because they are not up to snuff, that their objects are just not of the quality that you would care to represent?

JEN BYARD: Definitely, there are people just starting out that are just learning what handmade is and how to make their things, so maybe not that it is just not up to snuff, they're just not a place where they can market the good work

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Colleen, you've been making jewelry for years, would you say this is a business or a hobby for you?

COLLEEN TOWNEND: It is a little bit of both, I would like it to be a little more of a business, but life gets in the way. So, I have been doing it as a passion, since I was a teenager. And I began by making things for myself and then for friends, and then friends encourage me to have a show of my own, in my home, I had a great response.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What kinds of pieces do you make?

COLLEEN TOWNEND: I use mostly vintage finds, and I rework them and that again also comes from when I was young and would go to estate sales, and yard sales, and had no knowledge of making jewelry but I really wanted to and I taught myself how to put them together.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And why do you enjoy it? What do you enjoy about it?

COLLEEN TOWNEND: I just really love finding pieces, they have a history that sometimes is very mysterious. I think other people enjoy the story behind the pieces well. And they are beautiful. They are very beautiful, they have a lot of history and they're fun to find.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Valentine, you're a formally trained artist, do you work primarily designing textiles and fabric?

VALENTINE VIANNAY: No, I am known in San Diego as a faux finisher and mural artist. Primarily the fabric design expanded around 2007 and 2008. I saw a decline in business and it was sort of, it drives from the economy. I was trying to find something that I could do that would be affordable and fun of course, and not having to be tied to San Diego necessarily for me. So I know that I can create something and if let's say I first put things on a website called Etsy which is like eBay for artists, I could send it anywhere all over the world, but it still made locally.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What did you come up with?

VALENTINE VIANNAY: Well, many of my things come out of a joke. I came up with dishtowels, originally they were not. There were napkins for a party and I put quotes and images on the napkins, but I never used napkins. I'm always using dishtowels in the house. So asserted printing them for myself and then, someone would come over to the house and say ìooh, I love this.î And I would say you can have it, take it away. And next thing I know I am printing more and more and I had the idea that maybe I should just sell these. So, I make dishtowels and now make aprons, I make bags, scarves, I have made fabrics for walls even, so it's only real as a know it sounds so silly but I had this moment thinking way to mimic on the fabric is everywhere and you can use in many different ways.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The thing that you're talking about is the difference between the makers participating in the makers arcade doing work in the spare time, but this is your full-time job. This is your career. So, what does it take to be able to support yourself by starting a craft business or an artisan business? I think a lot of people love doing this kind of work, but don't know how to translate that into a business that actually supports them.

VALENTINE VIANNAY: You know, it is funny. I think often people think an artist is a very lazy or relaxed kind of life. But I find that you actually have to be extremely disciplined. I think about what I do pretty much all of the time, but I love it. So it is a passion, and I was in the first thing is discipline. And whenever there is a moment to do promotion, I will. Whenever there's a moment that I could design something else, it is like every minute is actually very important in my life towards making sure that it becomes a success and also, now that I am in stores, I love collaborating with stores. For instance, I want to talk about a little store called Progress in South Park. They were probably the first store that actually really believed in my work and so, what I do now is whenever I draw something or make something I will show it to them and say, what do you think? What do you think of that? Do you think I should make this a little bit bigger? Because they are selling and seeing people every day to come in the store they have a much better understanding, and so that is one of the ways that I work, collaborating with them.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Colleen, I want to get your reaction to what Valentine has said, it is her career, her job, it is her living. How did the time and effort that you put into your handmade goods, how does that compare? Let me start with Jen.

JEN BYARD: I actually sell in stores as well, and for me I quit my corporate job in order to be home with my three children and so I tried to, like Valentine said, to be disciplined with the hours while they are away school and the hours that they're sleeping, so I can get things done. But as she said also, it is definitely not for the lazy. A lot of things that I had to learn when I came into this is this with the business sides of it. I love designing and making products, but I did not know a lot about running a business. And so, I had a huge learning curve on that. How do I do my own taxes, how do I market myself, social media, and to learn those things in order to be successful?


COLLEEN TOWNEND: I would echo that, definitely the discipline is very important. And then just learning as you go is really what has happened for me. I started doing trunk shows and I am in couple of stores now, but the collaborations with store owners is very important as well. They know a little bit more than you do when you first start and they have a lot of advice and it is just good, networking is very important with other artists as well.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I asked all three of you this question because I know that there is such an overwhelming interest, people want to get started and learning how to do something like this, and doing it, and perhaps eventually making some money at it, I think Jen you know that because you actually teach people how to start learning the craft. You have an urban craft, tell us about that?

JEN BYAND: My partner Anne and I started urban craft camp about a year ago, and really we started it because there are so many friends and neighbors asking us how to do and make products that we were making and so, we just decided to start this business and host one and see how it went. And it has actually been very successful, we love teaching other women, and men also, how to make these products that we are making. And now it has even translated into different skills, for example this month we have several calligraphy workshops, and there's a floral design workshop and there are actual skills that people want to learn from a professional on how to do those things. It is a wide range of people and people that have never done crafts before, or people that just want to hone their craft or learn something new, it has been a really great adventure and we are really enjoying it.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Valentine, with fabric design that you decided to get into in 2007 and 2008, and had to knock on a lot of doors to try to get people to get interested in this, what is the benefit to artisans participating in shows like the Maker's Arcade? Obviously you want to sell some things, but is there a larger benefit?

VALENTINE VIANNAY: That is a big question, I am thinking when I go to these events, I find what I love about it is it seems that everyone gets an experience. And they get inspired. They love the fact that they are getting something that I say I made this and you are buying it. They definitely take it home or give it to somebody else and say I met the artist that made this and it is not something from a big store and like Target or something and you have no idea where it went or how it got there sort of thing, so that is always very exciting. And I think maybe on the eco-level it might be better, trying to make lest carbon waste, what else? Sorry I cannot think.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That is quite all right, you give us two very good ones, for artisans is there a lot of collaboration when you go to arcades like this and markets like this? You see what someone else is doing, and some tricks about marketing or something like that?

COLLEEN TOWNEND: I would say definitely that is when my favorite things, meeting the other artists, they become like family. We have such an amazing experience together and we trade products. I do a lot of my Christmas shopping when we have shows us closer to Christmas and then definitely, there is the networking which is very key. For all of us.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Jen. Valentine brings up the point that there seems to be for people something about it about getting something that is made by hand that people gravitate towards, can you explain that to us? Have you thought about it?

JEN BYARD: Absolutely, the handmade rental revolution startup that started out of that, people really want something that is made by hand and they appreciate that and they want something that is unique like Valentine said, when someone walks into their house, those are the pieces that people are excited about and impressed by. The things that I have that I made myself that are in my home are the things that people ask about when they walk in as well, there's a shop in South Park that is all local handmade things, and that shop is successful because people really want something that is their own and is unique.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: When it comes to the Maker's Arcade this Saturday, you tried to make this an experience and a sort of a party event for people, tell us a little bit about that.

JEN BYAND: We're really excited actually, and we have a lot of folks collaborating with us. Powwow Studios creating a beautiful seating area. We will have craft cocktails and a local girl from a Golden Afternoon, urban craft camp will be doing floral crown and make amd take and you'll be making floral crowns with your sisters, daughters, and mothers. There will be live music and it is simply a shopping event. We want you to come in shop and buy from all of these amazing vendors, but we also want you to come and just have a really good time and feel like you can hang out, and is also indoors, so there is a chance of rain, but we will be inside.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Good point. Let me tell everyone where this is, the Maker's Arcade takes place this Saturday at Glasshouse in the Barrio Logan arts district, it is from 11 AM to 6 PM and I have been speaking with Jen Byard, Colleen Townend and Valentine Viannay, thank you so much for speaking with us.