I am always impressed by the depth and breadth of handmade markets. Crafty Bastards in DC has been around for 11 years now (that's like forever in handmade years) and is one the "elites"--the kind of market that many consider worth traveling to. But before you send in your application fee and buy your ticket to DC, Cuddles and Rage has some intel for you from their most recent show there.
Q: Tell us about your shop!
A: We are a husband and wife team who make disturbingly cute stuff using multiple mediums. Our dioramas and sculpted figurines are what we are best known for. Our shop, Cuddles and Rage, is not only a place where you can find adorable food and animal pieces, but it is also a webcomic. This has given us a lot of flexibility to showcase our work at comic conventions and craft shows.
We’ve been running Cuddles and Rage for 5 years now. It started off as a simple black and white hand-drawn comic and grew into these grand diorama scenes with sculpted clay figures and miniature dollhouse props. We have been able to showcase our sculptures in gallery shows across the nation and travel along the East Coast to multiple conventions.
After 5 years, we’ve created a process that works really well for us when making new products. We start off with brainstorming ideas that fit into the criteria for our comic world. Ideas need to be food and/or animal based with a sense of humor. From there we develop the best ideas into comics and dioramas. The dioramas can take anywhere from 3 hours to 15 hours to create. It really depends on how detailed we get. A lot of our final dioramas end up as prints since all of the moving parts to create a scene can add up. We try to sell our original pieces as much as possible to give people a little piece of Cuddles and Rage for their home.
Q: How did you hear about this show?
A: Crafty Bastards is the biggest craft show in D.C. We’ve known about it for years and have always attended it as eager shoppers! We love how edgy the art is and the vibe you get from everybody there. You will always find something unique at Crafty Bastards that you will want to take home immediately.
Q: Why did you decide to apply to this show?
A: This show is extremely hard to get into. There is a long list of people who apply and getting in almost feels like a right of passage in the crafting world. We applied once in the past and didn’t make it in. We decided to give it a second try this year after we focused our branding message and really highlighted our key clay pieces. I believe having a very focused approach to our application process and a bit more experience helped us land a booth this year.
Q: What's the application and jurying process like?
A: The application process takes place online, with a small application fee and a set of submission guidelines to follow. The questions are pretty standard with explaining your work, selecting which categories you fit in, and submitting pictures. The best part about the Crafty Bastards team is that they are very honest about how hard it is to get in the show, and so they try to give you as much information as possible to encourage you to make your work stand out. This includes tons of articles and even videos on how the jury process works. We found researching these tips extremely helpful when it came time to apply.
Q: What was the atmosphere like?
A: The atmosphere was BUSY! I think everybody loves a busy show. The crowd flow was nonstop. The show is held outside, so nice, beautiful weather really helped bring in hoards of people. The vibe was very hip. People were walking around with beer and great food, which kept everything upbeat. The show had a great mix of artists, jewelry makers, handmade beauty products, knitted accessories, and more. Really anything you can imagine was there. They did a great job of not placing people with similar products directly next to one another. An extra bonus was all of the activities. The show had the best food trucks in D.C. and it was next to Union Market. If people wanted to sit down and take a break then they could hangout in the marketplace and eat some fresh oysters while sipping on wine.
Q: What kind of vendor would do well here or not do well here?
A: A vendor with a hip vibe would do well. The key is to have an original take on the product you are making. There are literally hundreds of artists with all slightly similar styles, but with one key unique element that really elevates their product to the top.
Q: What should people considering the show know about it?
A: Know that you are going to pay a fee to apply whether you make it in or not. We are so used to working comic shows that the nonrefundable fees for craft show applications tend to be a turnoff for us. Although, I will say that is worth the gamble for Crafty Bastards. If you make it in then you may have one of the best shows of your career. This event is that good! Plus, the people that run it are extremely chill and accommodating. That kind of friendliness goes a long way when you are stressed out and trying to setup your merchandise.
Q: Anything else?
A: The press for Crafty Bastards is huge. If you choose to participate in lending your merchandise for press then it will go a long way. The Crafty team goes out of their way to reblog your items on social media whenever you use their hashtag, get spots on local TV shows, and they return your products to you the day of the show. Not only is a great exposure for you that weekend, but it will also open new opportunities for you down the road as well. Lots of people flood the Crafty Bastards site looking for the next new trends. It’s a great place for new clients to discover your work.
Q: Where can people find your stuff?
A: You can find our comics and a ton of info on CuddlesAndRage.com. We also have lots of adorable goodies on Etsy and Society6.