Saturday, June 6, 2009

INCrowdteam Interview, 6/6/09 - Amanda Mauer Taflinger of the INDIEana Handicraft Exchange, a.k.a. armauer

The INDIEana Handicraft Exchange summer show is near! On Saturday, June 13, 2009, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., the Harrison Center for the Arts, located at 1505 North Delaware Street in Indianapolis, will host over 70 vendors, including several INCrowdteam members. The event annually draws a crowd of over 5000 people. I recently asked Amanda Mauer Taflinger a few questions about the upcoming event; read on and enjoy the IHE.

What makes the INDIEana Handicraft Exchange different from other craft fairs? We prefer to concentrate on the similarities we share with other craft fairs like the
Renegade Craft Fairs in Chicago, Brooklyn, San Francisco and Los Angeles, the Indie Craft Experience in Atlanta, Stitch Rock in Delray Beach, Florida, and Art vs. Craft in Milwaukee – fairs that consciously celebrate modern handmade goods, the relationship between creator and consumer, and local, alternative economies. We started the fair to highlight local crafters and artisans as well as expose Indianapolis to some of the best vendors on the national indie craft circuit, and the feedback we’ve gotten from show-goers and vendors tells us we are succeeding.

Most of the products our vendors sell serve the dual purpose of art and function and range from the beautiful to the irreverent, from the adorable to the slightly sinister, from the hysterical to the just plain bizarre. Vendors may use traditional crafting techniques but they express contemporary themes and design. The event is kid-friendly, but some artists’ work features the occasional dirty word or sexual image, so parents might want to take a gander before their little ones get an eye full.

I really like the way Alicia Steele of Public Broadcasting Atlanta put it, in reference to the Indie Craft Experience; “It’s punk rock played with needle and thread.”

Will vendors be indoors, outdoors, or both on June 13? All vendors for the INDIEana Handicraft Exchange will be indoors, in three different rooms. Our vendors will be in the gymnasium, the Underground, and Gallery No. 2. The vendors located outdoors have been selected by the
Independent Music + Art Festival committee and are a part of the IMAF.

Where should people park, and is there a place for bicyclists to chain up their bikes? There is a parking lot behind the Harrison Center, parking on the streets around the building and another lot about a half block away at 16th and Alabama Streets. However, on Saturday, June 13, there are several events going on in the area at once, so be prepared to park several blocks away and walk to the venue. The
Talbot Street Art Fair will be going on right across from our venue; our event will be inside the building and the IMAF will be outside in the courtyard. There are bike racks located outside the Harrison Center.

Can people bring their dogs? We love dogs (especially
pugs!) but I wouldn’t recommend it for this particular event. There will be a lot of loud music outdoors for the IMAF, and the interior of the Harrison Center will be very crowded. The gymnasium will already have very thin aisles and a lot of vendors will have very delicate merchandise. Last year a few dogs came through, and we had a little trouble with one, and several vendors expressed concern with this.

Where will the bands be, in relation to vendors’ booths? There will be music outdoors all day on two stages for the IMAF. Inside, for our fair we will have two bands playing,
Shirtless Biddles and Mandy Marie & the Cool-Hand Lukes. They will be in the main room, the gymnasium, set up on the bleachers. Their sets will be very informal. Low volume, mostly meant to be atmosphere music for the vendors and shoppers. The musicians will be playing in a kind of street busker style (accepting tips). After their main set in the gym, the Biddles will travel to the other two rooms and play short sets there, as well.

How much does it cost to get in? Can we win prizes? Admission is free to the public! Raffle tickets will be available; money made from raffle ticket sales is used to purchase arts and craft supplies for the
Marion County Children's Guardian Home, as well as for select Indianapolis area public school art programs. Raffle tickets are sold for $2 each, three for $5 or 7 for $10. Patrons may obtain additional raffle tickets at no charge by bringing children's arts and craft supplies, or children's art books, for donation at the door the day of the event. Prizes for the raffle are donated by our vendors and local, independent business sponsors. We always have excellent prizes, such as gift certificates to small local businesses like The Best Chocolate in Town, Broad Ripple Vintage, Oishi Sushi and Metamorphosis Tattooing & Body Piercing, to name just a few. Vendors had the option to donate one of their products for a discount on their booth fee. So we have many amazing handmade goods to give away, as well, such as a Willie Nelson finger puppet, a copper chain mail bracelet, a screen-printed tea towel set, plush creatures, soap gift sets, a sterling silver hand-hammered necklace, a bacon bracelet, handmade teas, baked goods and so much more.

Who was on the selection jury for the summer show, and will the October IHE vendors be chosen by the same people? A local art educator and artist, a local writer, a local illustrator, a local jewelry designer and a local graphic designer were the jury for June. We rotate the panel a bit. For October there will probably be about the same number of people, but not all the same individuals.

What should INcrowdteam members do if they want to participate in the October event? Go to the
website and download the application on the “vendors” page as either a PDF or a Microsoft Word document. Also, download the current F.A.Q. there and read it thoroughly. Get applications and images emailed to me by July 4. The sooner the better.

Represent yourself professionally and thoroughly when you apply. Make sure your application is complete and not missing pertinent information. For example, you are asked to submit 3-5 images; don’t submit two. Make sure the images of your work are in focus and uncluttered. Send images that show a variety of your work, not three shots of the same product.

Come to the June event! Look at the vendors, a.k.a. “your competition,” whom we have selected for the summer show and decide if your work fits in with the types of products you see sold there. Check out their displays, as well, and how they conduct their business with customers.

If you were accepted once but didn’t get in this year, don’t be offended, or afraid to apply again. We get way more applications than we have spaces available, and we like to accept new talent, to give vendors we’ve never seen before a chance. Also, we cater to a slightly different demographic for our summer show than for our fall show, so your products may be more appropriate for one event than the other.

Constantly reflect. Most people who are really good at what they do understand that the key to improving their art or their craft is to continually examine their work. Look at your approach, look at your technique, look at you habits. Ask yourself, ask friends, ask family for comments, critiques and praise. Be inventive, try new things. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck in a rut. Introduce new wares quarterly or yearly, keep your product line fresh.

Don’t be discouraged if you do not get accepted for the October event. We are growing steadily and hold two events a year now. We have recently been asked to add a third event, a “mini” to our calendar. So there are many opportunities for participation. While we would love to be able to accept everyone at each show, we just cannot do so. Our summer show, the largest we offer, maxes out at 60 booth spaces, and we managed to include over 70 vendors this year because many were willing to share space. Try applying with a friend, especially if this is your first show. We receive well over 100 applications for each show now, and we have to say no to some. It isn’t a popularity contest…most of the vendors applying our jury have never met. Criteria considered for acceptance are: the quality of work, the originality, the variety, the functionality and whether or not all elements are handmade or entirely repurposed.

How much will a booth for the October event cost? The booth space fee is $65. This gets vendors an indoor 9’ x 6’ space, a meal, and their name, image and link on our website. If a vendor cannot bring their own table, tables may be rented from the IHE for an additional $10. If a vendor would like to donate one of their handmade products to the raffle (which we highly encourage as we like to raise as much money for our charities as possible) they may deduct $10 from their total. So, the most any vendor would pay would be $75; the least would be $55.

What else does the INCrowdteam need to know about the IHE in October? The October event is a two-day fair. If you apply for the October show you must be able to be in attendance both days. The fair will be held in conjunction with
IDADA’s First Friday gallery opening at the Harrison Center. The event will run from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. on Friday, October 2 and from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Saturday, October 3.

Thanks, Amanda! I can't wait to check out the IHE next Saturday and see these INCrowdteam members in action:

crescentwench's Mythdeameanor!

If you're an INCrowdteam member vending at the IHE and I haven't listed you, please forgive me, then post a comment with a link to your Etsy shop; I'll get you added to the list above as soon as possible.


  1. Wow, lots of super info! THank you so much for sharing with the Etsy crowd :)

  2. Thanks for the helpful info. I plan on attending, for sure! Sounds like fun.