For someone with my taste in “cute” the Bazaar Bizarre was probably the best place I could have looked. If I had children I’d be in trouble, and as it was I had to remind myself that I mostly don’t have room for stuffed animals and that we already did Christmas shopping for the nieces. There were plenty of other cute things around than stuffed critters: cool printed cards and artwork, shirts, fun hats, buttons and bags. Ultimately I was able to keep myself from buying anything for the simple reason that I have no money: less effective than you might imagine thanks to the era of plastic.
There were lots of great stuffed things, but my favorites were probably the ones at Caseybots. These were, for lack of a better word, surprisingly shaped. They aren’t your typical stuffed animals, many looked vaguely like Domo-kun only with more animalistic features. The best were the hats, a twist on the cute kid hats with cat ears and such. These are a bit like this only stranger. And far less embarrassing.
I found another group of stuffed animals I liked over at Chile Con Yarne. These were intriguing because of their cube like bodies and simple annotations. The animal style reminded me a bit of very fine cartooning: absolute minimalism in terms of detail, but still effective at expressing the object or emotion. I thought the crabs were especially effective. I wonder whether the artist spent a lot of time figuring out how best to communicate “crab,” and “zebra” or if the animals came out more or less naturally. Naturally in terms of artistic expression that is, not in terms of unexpected barnyard life lessons.
There was also an awful lot of cute wearable crafts at the Bazaar. I was instantly attracted to the felt accessories at Get Felt Up for example.
Now, I’d like to mention that I am generally suspicious of felt. I think this is the result of years of traumatic Girl Scout activities, but you’d think I’d be over it after seeing how many cool things you can do with felt that don’t, you know, suck. Not so. I think I was only able to get over my prejudice in this case because I was attracted to the art style before I even noticed that it was made of felt. Which just proves that felt is not to be trusted, but that’s a rant for another day. Anyway.
I think of this style of art as “twitter art” because it reminds me of the twitter birds (and whale), but I realize that’s not accurate. I just don’t have a better word for it. At any rate, I love the simplistic representative shapes and unexpected color combinations that characterize this style. A lot of the artwork found at the Bazaar could probably fit into this category, but I think these felt headbands and pins and such were the purest example.
There were also some rather good T-shirts from SquidFire, some of which were done in a similar style only with a tad more detail. I love the T-shirt with all the fish swirling across it and, of course, you can never go wrong with cephalopods. I’m also a fan of the non-twitter style shirts, that are a bit more cartoony or line heavy. Actually the more time I spend on the SquidFire website the more I find that I like, so I’m going to stop looking before I buy something. These shirts remind me of the cool things that can be done within printmaking, and I wish I’d taken a few more classes. At least silk screening is not completely out of the question. While it’s still pretty process heavy, it’s not so bad in the literally heavy sense: meaning it doesn’t necessarily require machines that weigh more than my car. I’ve also seen tutorials on making a mini silk screening studio online and in Craft, so who knows, maybe some day I’ll get around to giving it a try. Honestly though, my artwork probably isn’t all that well suited to T-shirts.
Last but not least in the wearables department were some very sweet rompers from Big Pink Heart. Baby clothes are sort of predetermined to be cute (I think that’s in Calvin‘s doctrine somewhere) and the artwork on the rompers was a lovely collage style that reminded me of some of my favorite children’s books, but what really caught my attention was the use of material. Sure, the owls were extremely cute, but seriously, babies don’t care. What babies DO care about though is texture, and these rompers were all about texture. It’s imposible to see the variation just from looking at a photo, but there all sorts of different textile experiences sewn into these garmets, something that would never have occured to me to do. I love the idea of getting a baby something to wear that the baby can actually appreciate as much as Mom.
Finally, being a 2 dimentional aritst myself, it seems fitting to end with a mention of some of the great flat art I saw at Bazaar Bizarre this weekend. Oddball Press is a company I’m pretty sure I’ve seen some of before, and I loved them just as much the second time as the first. I didn’t get a photo because a) there were so many people crowded around their booth I couldn’t get a good shot and b) I knew that style of art wouldn’t show up well on my pathetic Chocolate camera (see rant from yesterday) but it’s well worth checking out. Their designs range from the simple and elegant (if a litter box can be considered elegant) to super high detailed beauty.
The nice thing about this kind of craft show is that “cute” doesn’t really mean the same thing that it does elsewhere. Normally, cute is something I avoid, but here I’m not afraid of it. I even seek it out.