The Milwaukee Makers Market is described as a “one-stop shop local experience” where patrons can find any type of art they could imagine for sale. The monthly event is special, particularly for how it has become a gathering and celebration of the city’s burgeoning art scene.
Starting in 2015 as a result of the art community realizing that there were no regular events to call their own where makers, artists and vendors could sell their goods and network, the Milwaukee Makers Market was born. Since then, it has grown from a small outdoor event in the Colectivo Bay View parking lot to an event which receives more than 300 applicants annually to fill venues from the Colectivo to Discovery World, Ivy House and even local breweries.
Through a diverse selection of nearly 40 rotating vendors who offer art prints, paintings, jewelry, plushes, food, clothing and everything in between, event coordinator and local artist Ryan Laessig believes that there is something for everyone at the market. Having been involved with the event since the beginning, Ryan has never had anyone tell him “I didn’t find something that didn’t strike me” and believes that although you could maybe find similar goods on sites like Etsy, you’d be missing out on something important by doing so.
He explains that the event goes beyond shopping online by allowing patrons to explore the history and purpose behind the art through face-to-face interactions with their creators. These natural and spontaneous connections formed at the events is what Ryan describes as forming the basis for the aforementioned “experience” and ties back to the sense of community which led to the event’s creation in the first place.
Ryan describes this community as more like a family than anything else and as one where the patrons are just as important as the vendors. Their contributions create an ecosystem where that same money received by a vendor will either be used to support other makers or to directly grow their own business. Without them, “what we do is just a hobby,” Ryan asserts.
Robin Brown (known online as @birrddy), a local artist who sells prints, stickers and more and has been a frequent vendor at the markets, also believes that the market is more than just a typical art fair.
“Each event brings such a diverse group of people… and I’ve (made) many sales, freelance connections, and even made some friends by participating in the markets. Not only are (they) a great way to showcase your artistic talents and test out new work, but…making those personal connections is extremely useful and meaningful…”
The next Milwaukee Makers Market is this Saturday, Nov. 30, on “Small Business Saturday.” If the wide selection of amazing art and vendors isn’t enough to entice you, then maybe come out and become a part of this family of creators and supporters.