Craft Lake City’s DIY Festival is gearing up for its 10th birthday this year! SLUG values Craft Lake City as a fellow community builder, with mission to promote and elevate artists, musicians, DIY engineers, vintage vendors, craft food creators and more. We had a chance to speak to two DIY Festival veterans about their 10 years of being an integral part of DIY Fest’s longevity and culture. Hats off to these artisans who’ve participated consecutively every year since the DIY Fest’s inception, and happy 10th to DIY Fest as they continue to nurture and build the creative community here in Salt Lake City.
SLUG: How did your journey as an artisan start?
Candace Jean: I found a flier for the first-ever Craft Lake City at another local show. I applied, was accepted and gave it my best shot. It was my first time with a 10×10 booth—which was quite the learning experience—but the energy at the inaugural Fest was incredible. It was so much fun and I couldn’t wait to apply again!
SLUG: How would you describe the experience that your booth provides DIY Fest–goers?
Jean: I like to hope that people come into my space and get lost for a little while, pick things up and discover little details—find a favorite creature or flower I’ve illustrated that makes them happy … maybe smile about the more quirky things I’ve drawn and have a laugh over my animals wearing clothes.
SLUG: In the last 10 years, what would you say is your favorite DIY Fest memory?
Jean: I don’t know if I’d say favorite, but one absolutely unforgettable event was the seventh Fest in 2015. We had a massive storm roll up that took everybody by surprise. It tore through the Fest and attendees all over the plaza rushed to help. They held decor, displays, and lights in place during crazy wind and rain, and after the storm they picked up things the wind took away. I don’t think a single vendor went unaffected. DIY was just a two-day event at the time, and Angela allowed an early closure so vendors could recoup and rebuild before day two. The outpouring of love and support going around the Fest the next day from staff, volunteers, and attendees for vendors was beyond amazing. Everybody really came together during and after that storm, which felt so good. That was also the year I got to illustrate the DIY Fest cover for SLUG, which for me was a massive privilege, and seeing it in stores and having Fest attendees recognize my work because of the cover was really great. That was a very emotional event!
SLUG: Spanning the years from your first DIY Fest until now, how has your business changed?
Jean: I learn something new with each event, but my displays are becoming more cohesive and in sync with my artwork. I’ve also expanded into wholesale accounts—something I didn’t have when I first began. I’ve been invited to show with new galleries, picked up commission work, and—I think—gained some collectors!
SLUG: Is there a particular favorite vendor?
Jean: There are too many talented vendors to name just one favorite! I’m excited for first-time vendor Coco West Illustration. I love seeing new work from repeat vendors Ashley Love, Laura Frisk, Obake Style, IHsquared, Little Teeth Marks, Heather Mahler, Land of Salt, Mineral and Matter, Olive Deer, and Furturtle. I also have to visit Book Runners each time they vend. I’m sure I’m forgetting so many! Be sure to comb the whole plaza—there are great vendors tucked in everywhere!
SLUG: Any other projects you’re involved in?
Jean: I do a lot of fan art and rotate my inventory to vend during comic conventions, and I apply for winter markets like Salt & Honey and Art Market. But recently, I’ve signed with a literary agent and have been focusing a lot of my time on writing middle grade fiction. I hope to also illustrate my own picture books one day!
SLUG: What has brought you back to DIY Fest every year?
Jean: I feel a sense of loyalty to DIY and at home on the plaza. It’s my “big summer show” that also has an intimate feeling of friendship and community.
SLUG: What other elements of the DIY Festival besides the artisans excite you?
Jean: As a mom and an introvert, I really don’t get out much. I love being outside in the summer evenings and taking in all of that Downtown energy during the festival.
SLUG: What is in store for you and your shop in the future?
Jean: I’m envisioning a line of my illustration veering more toward children’s literature. I hope to be promoting books I’ve written—middle grade and picture books—in the near future. I’d also really love to utilize the DIY Fest to act as a show opening for a recently finished series of paintings—I’ve got a few in mind I want to finish.
To learn about Amy Redden‘s incoming 10th festival and her experience at each festival, read her interview here.