When men hear the words ‘Craft Show’ their reaction is rarely a positive one. Images of throngs of women down endless cramped aisles with nothing a guy would ever want come to mind. But I am here to tell you first there are ‘crafts’ that many men would like and there are shows where you can go to find them (besides the wonderful Internet). As part of Small Business Saturday – an initiative to get people to shop at small, local businesses after or instead of the big box stores on Black Friday – I recently went to one: Art vs. Craft. Art vs. Craft is an annual shopping event in Milwaukee, WI which brings together a diverse range of makers, selected based upon uniqueness and quality of work. Translation: these are real artists, not just people who do this as a hobby making the same old countrified folksy work you may be accustomed to. I have been to previous AVCs, and my experience has always been a positive one where nearly every vendor had quality work, usually of an avant-garde style as evidenced by two of its major sponsors: 91.7 WMSE Milwaukee Frontier Radio and Alterra Coffee. Still most of the things I would buy for others -probably of the female persuasion- not myself. But this year, maybe because I was looking for it but maybe just because the market is growing, the prominence of artists and craftsmen that were men and catered to men was more than ever before.
Items ranged from artwork in the form of drawing and prints to goods like coasters and soap (yes soap for men – made with beer). Below are links to all the artists:
- Bureau of Print Research and Design (nice nod to the Hellboy Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense) makes posters for events such as bands, fundraisers, and movie showings.
- Jeremy Lowther – urban illustrations of monsters, sci-fo and other nerd and manly stuff
- Matt M. Cipov – urban illustrations of animals and other art
- Milwaukee Beersoap – (no web site just e-mail) hand crafted soap made from beer, can be found at events and festivals
- R. Plowman Studios – unique collage art with a modern, urban style instead of the usual romantic, antique look
- Stonesters – stone coasters. Stones cut into slices that can be separated out to use as coasters.
- Team Nerd Press – Letterpress with many socially conscious subjects. They call themselves out as nerds. nuff said.
There were a few other vendors there that had wares worthy of a man, just made by a woman, or unknown. Check these out as well for some interesting goods:
- Beehive Alchemy – has a whole line of men’s products mostly for shaving
- Brew City Botanicals – They have classic bay-scented after shave and a bruise/muscle balm
- Innad – handmade wallets, unisex but has many masculine patterns like argyles, wood grain, tie stripe, even a Schlitz wallet
- Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative – has various artists, many of whom are men, with some kick-ass art