The North Shore is a thriving community of artists and makers creating some of the coolest stuff the East Coast has to offer, and the Creative Collective Merchant Marketplace is providing a space for those makers and artists to sell what they’ve made to the people who want to buy it. One of the unique things about the market is the ability for the collective to offer opportunities to artists who are creating great work, but don’t necessarily have access to a brick and mortar store to sell it in.
The vendor markets are a kind of middle ground, a space where artists and makers whose primary connection to their fan and client base is online. The markets give these creators a chance to come face to face with customers, have real conversations about their work, and have a space to sell what they’ve made to people who may not have purposely sought them out.
Events and special happenings in Salem in October bring in hundreds of thousands of people, and that kind of foot traffic is the lifeblood for many small businesses in the area. Over the last few years, the Essex Street vendor markets have been a major pulls for tourism, and artists –whether or not they specialize in spooky art or not – have been able to take advantage of this phenomenon.
Sara Richard (IG: @sararichardart) is an east coaster that spent a good deal of time on the west coast before moving to Salem this past winter. She participated in the market last weekend and will be again this upcoming weekend.
Her work consists of variant comic book covers – including My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Jem and The Holograms, Rick and Morty, and Marvel’s Deadpool, among many others – as well as the DC Collectables’ Justice League Tarot Card Set, and the illustrations for “Kitty and Dino,” published by Yen Press, which was nominated for an Eisner Award in 2013. And this is just the broad strokes.
Most recently, she illustrated a book written by Franco (Tiny Titans, DC Comics) called The Ghost, The Owl which is available at both Emporium 32 and Harrison’s Comics in downtown Salem. It will also be available at her table this Friday Night, October 26th, at the final Creative Collective Night Market.
“I really love the markets in Salem because I get to do my own work rather than licensed properties.” Sara Richard says. “I’m known for my owls, so it’s nice to actually be able to promote that.”
When Sara isn’t creating owls, painting comic book covers, or designing oracle decks, she spends her time traveling the country exhibiting at cons in D.C., New York, Chicago, Seattle, and San Diego, to name a few. Yet, her favorite place to vend is actually here in Salem.
“Of all the places I’ve ever lived, my art really fits here the best.”
Another Salem-based artist who vended this past weekend on the lower end of Essex Street in front of Gulu Gulu Cafe is local favorite Danny Wicked (IG @DannyWicced). Danny is a painter, sign maker, sculptor, toy masher, and prop maker with an expert level knowledge of pop culture and film trickery. His recent creation, the Bartafinger, was featured this year at New York Comic Con by DKE Toys. He also had the unique privilege of creating and presenting the awards presented to Cassandra Peterson (Elvira) and Ricou Browning (Creature from the Black Lagoon) at this year’s Salem Horror Fest.
Danny gets his inspiration from just about everywhere, and as a result, can make art out of just about anything. Some of his influences include Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, creator of Rat Fink, and legendary motorcycle builder Indian Larry.
“I’ve always been an artist. I’m the youngest of eight, always creating stuff. It’s something I can’t help. Even when I don’t want to do anything, my hands won’t stop. I’ll always create in some sort of way.”
This past weekend Danny shared a table during the Creative Collective Night Market with two artists he admires, his cousin Dave of Ghost Ship Art (IG: @ghost_ship_art) and Dave’s girlfriend Makayla of Spider Toes (IG: @spidertoes).
“I asked him to vend with me not because he’s my cousin, but because I really like his artwork. He does a lot of crazy monster drawings and original creations.” Danny said. “They’ve never really vended their own artwork, and there’s so many different artists, but it’s tough to find people that I’d want to do a setup with.
“All of our stuff really complemented each other. It’s awesome.”
Maura O’Connor (IG: @oconnoisseur) is a Beverly-based artist and alum of Montserrat College of Art, where she graduated in 2015 with the graduation award in Illustration. She also illustrated her first children’s book this year, “Nonna What is St. Peter’s Fiesta,” written by Laura Ventimiglia, and published by Buttieri Press. Although she specializes in ink, watercolor, and gouache she dabbles in just about anything, and her work features on the folkloric and mythical.
“I also combine these elements with memories and impressions from my childhood growing up in the woods of Hudson Valley New York.” Maura says. “I think in that way my work feels nostalgic even if it’s something you’ve never seen before.”
She vended this past weekend at the Creative Collective Night Market on October 19th, showing off her unique style of work. She loved the vibes overall.
“It was really amazing to be able to celebrate the smaller local makers with the market this year, and it even let me meet a ton of local makers that I hadn’t known before this event.” She recalls. “It was also really cool to meet people from all over the country and celebrate everything that we love about the town we live in!”
The Creative Collective Merchant Marketplace continues this weekend in downtown Salem. The Night Market is this Friday, October 26th, from 6-9 PM. To find out more details, be sure to follow the Creative Collective Merchant Marketplace on Facebook.
Joey Phoenix is a Salem, MA based artist, scribbler, and professional faerie. Their passion for community and the creative process leads them to write about people who are doing good work on the North Shore. You can follow them on twitter @jphoenixmedia – if you think you know of a creative story worth telling, send them a message at firstname.lastname@example.org