Among the things Traverse City is known for, its independent arts and crafts scene is not one of them. But that might soon change, thanks to the Traverse City Makers Market—northern Michigan’s juried art market for independent artists and their handmade goods that was launched in 2010 as an annual event.
This year, Makers Market takes place Sept. 22, and event organizers Kelly Nogoski and Troy DeShano are planning a larger, outdoor venue space right in downtown Traverse City. While last year featured 30 vendors, this year DeShano predicts they’ll have more than 50.
Nogoski and DeShano are both independent artists and crafters who enjoy quality handmade art. As the event founder, Nogoski’s motivation was in part to bring indie craft shows to her hometown. DeShano, once a vendor at the Market, signed on to lend a hand in 2011.
“I’ve always been really interested in arts and crafts,” Nogoski said. “I learned early on the power of making something and how that makes you feel. I’ve been doing that on my own, and I began to notice this growing indie craft movement nationally. Traverse City is kind of cosmopolitan, but kind of country, and I saw an opportunity to bring indie craft awareness up here.”
At the event itself, you’ll find a little bit of everything: housewares, wearables, accessories, fine art and more. Cost of goods ranges anywhere from $1 to a few hundred dollars.
“It’s been a goal of mine to make people aware that you can buy things you need for your daily life at a reasonable price that are handmade,” Nogoski said. “My hope is that people can realize they can buy a hand sewn shopping bag, or a handmade piece of jewelry, instead of buying a similar piece from a national chain store.”
If and when people start to do so, that can mean big things for our state’s economy.
“Consumers are discovering new ways to invest their dollars in things that are made by hand, locally, and recognizing the value of that more and more,” DeShano said. “That’s good for our communities, and it’s beneficial for our artist community as well. Around here, the number of people who are self employed has exponentially increased, and an event like this is an opportunity for our artists to continue building their businesses.”
Being a juried art market, artists must first submit an application online. Only Michigan artists are permitted to apply. Last year, DeShano said they received about 100 applications for their 30 vendor spots, so competition is somewhat stiff, and he noted that the selectivity allows them to keep the quality and diversity of vendors high. Applications for the 2012 event are currently being accepted and will be accepted through the end of July. There is a $10 application fee.
This year’s event takes place in downtown Traverse City, on the Piazza at The Village of Grand Traverse Commons, which is located in a part of the city that’s turning into an art district of sorts, according to DeShano. Coincidently, it’s also the location of the old Traverse City State Hospital, and on a spooky, unrelated note, there are rumors that the place is haunted. But since the event takes place during the day, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., event-goers should be safe—probably.
The event is free to the public and also will feature live music and local food. For more information, visit the event website.