MISSOULA – The 10th annual Montana Summer MADE Fair filled Caras Park this weekend with all kind of mediums and booths from across the state.
The Montana MADE Summer Fair celebrated their 10th anniversary by expanding their booth count by nearly 50 more artists which means that they packed over 160 booths into Caras Park — with products ranging from ceramics to shirts to honey.
Organizer Carol-Lynn Lapotka says the greatest part is watching the applicants grow as both artists and as businesspeople.
“Yeah it’s great to see other artists that have started small and have grown to the size that they are now and have made it their full-time gig," said lead organizer Carol Lynn Lapotka. "We are really proud that we have been able to provide an opportunity locally in Missoula. To have events like this that do draw such a large crowd, of artists as well as the fans in the customers that really support this.”
One artist, in particular, is doing this same thing on a microcosmic level. Amber Whittenburg, or Wam, is a co-founder of Cool Art Club, a group that not only gathers regularly to make art but also to teach budding creators how to present their work and sell their work with impunity.
“Exactly, exactly. Which is like the hardest part of it, so it’s nice to have people like ask a silly question to and not feel embarrassed. There’s no way I could do would I do without having help in the past from people," Whittenburg said.
"Because we’re all trying to accomplish basically the same thing, make stuff, sell stuff. And to reinvent the wheel for every single person is a lot of time period. Like where do you? Get your tags? Where do you get your banners printed? It’s really nice to be able to collaborate and figure some of that stuff out not on your own, but more as a community," Whittenburg told MTN News.
"My work is meant to inspire people, I don’t try to like seem like I am better than anyone in what I’m doing, I will tell you my recipes for things so you can make your own cause that’s all the magic occurs," Whittenburg said.
It can be difficult for aspiring artists to figure out an effective way to market and promote yourself but through community events and organizations, many have found an avenue of safe and profitable expression.
The MADE fair will also have booths set up at the Montana State Fair in August and plans to begin a Bozeman sister fair in the next couple years to keep up with their speedy growth.