WHAT'S HAPPENING: The Next Big Thing

Jun 28, 2013 0 comments
WHAT'S HAPPENING: The Next Big Thing

Originally Published In Manayunk.com Magazine

Easily one of the most intriguing attractions in its debut at last year’s Manayunk Arts Festival, expectations are spiking for the sophomore edition of the Emerging Artists Showcase. Here, we offer an advance glimpse of the most local of the budding phenoms.

MICHAEL MAJEWSKI | Illustrator | Roxborough

Ambition I want to publish my comic book and share my characters, stories and universe with everyone. It’s a fun, edgy book that targets a younger audience, though it can be enjoyed by all ages.

Inspiration People’s reactions, whether negative or positive. My wife’s supportive nature also influences me greatly. In terms of other artists: Salvador Dali, Todd McFarlane and Greg Capullo. McFarlane is the first artist I remember copying when I was a kid collecting comic books in the mid- to late-‘80s into the ‘90s. Even now, his style heavily influences me. It wasn't until high school when I was introduced to Dali and began painting. Capullo came later in my life, probably my mid-twenties.

Creative process I always emphasize something that’s sure to pop, like a pair of eyes, to a detail with dark blacks, something that jumps off the page. I tend to think the simplest things are more interesting, so I start from the simplest of shapes and add from there, without, ultimately, losing that initial simplicity.

Crowning achievement The creation of my comic book and pitching it to publishers. It hasn’t been published yet, but editors are looking at my work and considering it, which is something I’ve dreamed of since I was a child.

VANESSA DUGANDZIC | Fabric Designer | Roxborough

Ambition While waiting for the arrival of my daughter, Eva, I decided to start making the things I wanted to see in the stores where I was registering. Now, with help of my business [Sassy Smidgens] partner, Brie Messier, I’m creating handcrafted tote bags, changing pads, diaper pouches, zippered wipes cases and children’s apparel, including garments and accessories for the LGBT parental community. In the near future, we’ll be launching home and pet lines.

Inspiration My mother, Patricia Rangel, taught me to sew and my grandmother, Josephine Rangel, taught me to hand-embroider. The fabric designers Riley Blake, Robert Kaufman and Michael Miller are hugely-influential.  Their prints and colors ignite something within me that urges me to create, and the music I listen to—Gotye, The Zac Brown Band, Mumford & Sons—only enhances it. The things I see on Pinterest, too, whether it be pictures of nature or products people love, influence how I may use a certain fabric or color combinations.

Creative process I try to create an environment full of natural light, harmonious music and a clean workspace. I think it’s very important to maintain organization.

Crowning achievement The first was our first international order (Australia). Second, creating a personalized baby gift for the executive producer of a premier entertainment news channel. And third, getting agreements from three stores to sell our creations in New Jersey and New York.

MARY AGNES WILLIAMS | Photographer | Manayunk

Aesthetic Pinhole photography appeals to me because it is simple and direct (no lens or view finder), but can yield complex images. Pinhole allows me to explore and create mystery and ambiguity—in many of my photographs the images appear to be emerging from, or about to enter, another time or place.

Inspiration Beautiful structures, such as the Manayunk Bridge and the architecture of Venice. I love trees of all kinds, too, and water, whether it’s the ocean, rivers or canals. I’m also inspired by my husband, Thomas Parker Williams, a very creative visual artist. We’ve collaborated on a number of artist books, including one on the Manayunk Bridge.

Creative process My photos are shot with film, both black-and-white and color. I have five pinhole cameras, three that use 2¼ x2¼ film, one uses 4x5 sheet film, and the fifth is a converted 35mm camera. Each one has different qualities; for example, one is somewhat telephoto, another is more wide-angle. Images made with another camera are usually softer focus. So I have many ways to create a wide variety of images. We have a darkroom where we develop and print my black-and-white photos. Keeping true to the simplicity and directness of the pinhole process, none of my photos are digitally manipulated.

Crowning achievement I was very pleased to show my photos in a recent solo exhibition at The Spiral Bookcase, in Manayunk.

KIMBERLY SHRACK | Calligrapher | Manayunk

Aesthetic It may sound superficial, but my creative pursuit is to add details that make things a little more beautiful than they would be on their own.

Inspiration My two biggest sources of inspiration at first seem diametrically opposed: the old and the new. I grew up in the Midwest, and was always enamored with the old Mail Pouch ads painted on the sides of barns and old buildings, and the retro ads and packaging on the tables of flea markets and garage sales. I collected those things, saved boxes and Coke bottles. My favorite part was the writing. On the other side of the timeline, I am also very inspired by modern typography. There’s something exciting and interesting about creating something that looks new with an old medium.

Creative process A lot of trial and error. And tons of ink stains on clothing and my kitchen table. A lot of sketchbooks full of different styles of writing. And a ton of hand cramps. In all seriousness, it’s a look I’m going for. I couldn't tell you exactly what it is I am looking for, but I can tell you when it’s right and when it’s wrong.

Crowning achievement The first time someone ordered my calligraphy for their wedding invitations. It’s so great to be a little part of someone’s big day, to help them make their first impression.

GREG TROUT | Mixed Media Artist | Manayunk

Aesthetic I was born in Elverson, PA (population 1,225), and I’ve resided in Philadelphia (pop. 1,526,006) since 1992. After a lifetime of collecting arcane and mysterious printed matter, I’m now re-assembling and re-assigning the images and creating new spirits and ideas.

Inspiration Past ideas of beauty, simpler times, heartbreak, heartache and the violet hour. My list of influences is so myriad as to take up an entire page. Hieronymus Bosch, Robert Rauschenberg, Gray Morrow, Cornell Woolrich and John Waters spring to mind.

Creative process After excising interesting images and assembling compelling backgrounds, I introduce each being to its new home and adversary/companion until I find a perfect fit. Not unlike child’s play.

Crowning achievement Two successful solo runs at The Spiral Bookcase, creating a commissioned piece for former Onion editor Joe Garden and earning the accolades of fellow artists Zoe Strauss and Mitch O’Connell.

DEREK SHAW | Leathersmith | Manayunk

Aesthetic Handcrafted leather goods that give a personal touch and help simplify lives.  

Inspiration Necessity. In 2011, I bought some leather tools and started making slim, front-pocket wallets for myself and some friends after I couldn’t find one that I liked. Recently, I began creating larger leather goods, all born out of necessity as well. This spring, Waskerd, the company I co-founded, released The Manayunk Small Zipper Bag, The Lunch Box and The Dopp Kit. It was kind of surreal when I realized I could create things in a couple hours that people would carry for years and years. That’s been one of my motivators.

Creative process I’ve been fielding a lot of custom requests as of late. I really enjoy the challenge of working with someone else’s idea and creating a bespoke piece built for their unique needs. I won't be able to sleep until I’ve figured it out. I build it in my head over and over again, piecing the leather together, reinforcing certain stitches, envisioning the end result: simple and durable. By the time the pencil and paper come in, the design’s nearly complete. A sketch or two helps with the final tweaks. Then it’s my hands and the leather tools.  

Crowning achievement Being featured by Esquire. In April, Waskerd was highlighted in an online shopping guide titled “The 15 Best Wallets to Buy This Spring.”

Arts Festival By the Numbers
The year the first festival was held.

4.5 million
Estimated number of people who attended the first 23 festivals.

Length in blocks that the festival spans, or three-quarters of a mile.

The amount of artists and artists featured, on average. They hail from at least 30 states.

Women who’ve gone into labor at the festival.

One artist’s work is chosen each year to be featured in the festival poster and marketing materials.

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