The Renegade Craft Fair began in Chicago’s Wicker Park in 2003 and in the 8 years since, has grown to become one of America’s greatest craft events. Featuring hundreds of artists and makers, the annual event is held in urban epicenters of creative indie-entrepreneurship – including Brooklyn, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Austin. Much to our pleasure, last weekend, it came to our very own London.
Flushed with the success of the weekends event, Co-Founder and Creative Director Sue Daly was kind enough to speak to us this morning. We asked about her fantastic decision to bring the Renegade Craft Fair to the UK…..
I’ve always loved London! It was the first place I visited abroad, so it’s always had a special place in my heart. On top of that, my dad used to do a lot of business over here – so the idea of doing business here wasn’t a totally foreign concept to me. And so when I first started expanding the craft fair to other cities, London was always a goal of mine… kind of a dream really! I’ve visited the city several times, and gone to some of the markets and thought it was so cool how they’re so ingrained in the culture here. And there are so many makers over here, so I knew we’d be able to find artists to participate. Those factors made me think that Renegade would translate really well over here. So a couple of years ago I started to do research on venues and everything, and it just worked out that this year would be the year I’d take the leap and we’d take the fair abroad. And we’re so happy we did it! It was a great success, so we will definitely try to come back and make it an annual event.
You mentioned that you love the way craft markets are such a part of the culture here. What are your thoughts on the UK craft scene?
I’m just starting to learn about the scene here, but from what I’ve seen online and at the fair this past weekend, I think there’s a really, really vibrant craft scene over here. Everything at the fair was top notch in terms of creativity and craftsmanship. People really brought it, and you could tell everything was made with love! And the attendees were so excited to have Renegade in the UK too, saying they had followed us online for years. I had no idea that we were so well known over here, and so it just goes to show how popular DIY craft is over here. I’m super excited to learn more about the craft scene here, because it seems like there’s quite a lot going on!
Could you pick out some of your favourite UK makers?
There are so many, but some of my favourite local artists that were at the fair include Kate Sutton! She does all of our graphic design for Renegade, and I’ve been a big fan of hers for years. She’s amazing!…
Zosienska & Rosie and their sweet creations…
Julia Pott‘s illustrations – I love her aesthetic!…
Hazel Stark, and her beautiful silkscreened pillows
Chase and Wonder, and their old-timey design aesthetic
It wasn’t too different from how we organize all of our other events actually. Most of what we do pre-event is administrative, so we work from our office in Chicago just putting all of the logistics together mostly via email. I made two trips out here to do research into the venue, and scope the market scene out… and it all seemed really feasible. So, from there I just went for it. Booked the venue, put a call out to artists on our website, and the rest is history!
Thanks to Sue for taking the time out to speak to us. You can read more from Sue and the team on the Renegade website.
Chief Operations Officer at Folksy, Sarah Waterhouse, has been following Renegade online for years and was super excited when she found out they were coming to London. Visiting Renegade as an artist in her own right she was more than happy to spill the beans on her experience of the event.
Sarah, you’ve waited a long time for this craft event, what was the atmosphere like when you got there?
Trumans Brewery is a very spacious, industrial location right in the middle of London’s fashionable Brick Lane area. There was plenty of room to walk around, it was light and airy and the stalls were very well laid out. The white washed walls were decorated by various stalls with an array of prints and posters which gave it a great feel.
It was bustling with over 100 artists but retained a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere with shopping, music and making all mixed in together. Luckily there was plenty of space to sit down, relax and eat in between browsing and buying!
Some stall holders had travelled a long way for the event, there were quite a few stalls from the USA and also a few from European countries such as the Netherlands & Germany. There were also several sellers who had travelled down from from Scotland. It was great to see such a variety.
Being run by a US organiser we’re keen to know how the Renegade event differs from UK craft fairs?
I asked Kim Lawler of Finest Imaginary her opinion about this, she said that she thought the event had a different energy to UK events. She also thought that the big American brand name of Renegade attracted good stalls and visitors and that people were coming to a high quality art and craft event as opposed to a ‘Craft Market’ as UK events tend to be. She also commented on the fact that it was nice to see so many American and European sellers at the event and there was a nice mix of those with the UK sellers.
I also spoke to a lady from Minneapolis who was visiting the UK and had always wanted to go to a Renegade fair in US but lives too far away from one. She was really happy to get a chance to visit one here, whilst she was in London, which shows the global nature of these events and the ability the Renegade name has to draw in visitors.
Personally I thought that this was a great example of an alternative art and craft event and differed to UK events with its emphasis on illustration and print work which seems more American in style. UK contemporary craft events tend to have a mix of different traditional disciplines such as jewellery, ceramics and glass mixed in with others such as art, illustration and print.
So, after the event, what was your general impression?
This was a really great event, obviously well organised with a great mix of artists and makers. Also the quality of all the stalls was very high, the only downside was that we wanted to buy something from every stall!
It was nice to see a mix of the different styles of work that could only be achieved at an International event, some was very British and then some very American work.
Turn out was great, it was very busy but the venue was a very good size with well laid out stalls so you didn’t feel that you were pushing and shoving to get to the sellers. A cash machine and coffee shop would have made the event perfect!
There was also an information stall with Renegade merchandise for hardcore fans like us and also a raffle of work from makers at the event which had a lovely selection of items to win.
Hopefully this will be the first of many Renegade events held in the UK.
You can see more of our photographs from the event on our Flickr page.