This weekend marks the 11th anniversary of Artists and Fleas. In honor of the b-day, and the holiday cheer that's filling all of us with nostalgia this month, we'd like to share a note written by A&F's founders Ronen and Amy late one night back in 2010. As we embark on our 12th year of #MarketLife, the following holds true more than ever.
Late night, December 2010:
7 years ago this weekend, Amy and I woke up at the crack of dawn (8am), rolled up a heavy steel warehouse gate and opened the doors to what has become one of the most personally satisfying endeavors of our lives to date. Artists & Fleas was born of our mutual love of markets, our faith in the spontaneity of the human spirit, our commitment to seeing independent people thrive in independent lives, and our desire to bring people together to show, share and interact with each other.
Since first opening that frigid Sunday in December 2003, a lot has changed in Williamsburg, in the world and in our lives. The whole "do-it-yourself" culture has taken off. Creative people have more outlets than ever before to make a living and piece together a lot more than just a modest existence. The definition of "work" has changed so much so that many of our vendors over the years have used the market as their store or their launching pad or their base for experimentation to allow them to do so much more during the 5 other days of the week when they are not selling or hanging out at the market. The boom of markets (flea, food and other), the ubiquity of the "pop-up shop", the mainstream-ification of those now almost cliche ideas of "curated" and "artisanal and/or bespoke" and "handmade", the explosion of the whole hand-crafted and indie handmade goods movement (even calling it a movement seems to trivialize it) --- these are now part of the norm. And the irony is that many of those influences have roots in places like Williamsburg and in Brooklyn, in general. These are places that are in many ways ground zero for a lot of the creative energy that is incubated before escaping and ultimately making its mark in the form of new trends in food and fashion and design.
But a lot has not changed. New people come to the market every weekend to try and sell their art or design or clothing or jewelry or collection of kitsch or ephemera. Some come for a day. Some stay for a year. They make connections with customers and other vendors.
They come and discover. People respond to things in ways that no one would ever be able to experience if they did not see it happen right in front of their eyes ("Do you have this in silver, instead?" "This sweater reminds me of visits to my grandfather in ____" "I don't think I will ever find anything like this again."). There is a vitality and a magic to the market like none other.
If you haven't been out to Williamsburg in a while or are looking for a fun distraction and place to find some truly one-of-a-kind gifts (you can shop for yourself, it's okay --- we do it all the time), drop by. We've been on North 6th Street (between Bedford & Berry) since 2003 and have recently opened an annex, our Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar around the block on North 7th Street (between Wythe & Kent). Each is filled with over 50 amazing artists, designers, collectors and crafters doing their thing. Consider stopping in. You're destined to discover something and make a memory.
Check out, hang out and shop.