Tucked away among the industrial warehouses at the end of Northeast 18th Street in Gainesville sits a cheerful one-story block building with bright yellow trim surrounded by lush greenery.
Past the pottery-covered shelves and through the window of Studio TM is a scene budding with the vibrancy of Gainesville’s artist community.
Studio owner and local ceramics artist Sara Truman spent her summer at the potter’s wheel building up stock. Pots, plates, candle holders and mugs lined the walls, waiting patiently for the first Studio TM pop-up market of the season.
This weekend was fall’s kickoff into the artist’s market season for Gainesville makers. Studio TM started hosting its Sunday pop-up last year in the hopes of prompting residents to shop small and support Gainesville’s thriving art scene. The event yesterday championed every type of creative, with crochet, ceramic, candle making, and pen-and-ink artists all making an appearance as vendors.
Sara Truman shared her excitement for artists joining the market circuit.
“It’s growing and changing dramatically right now, and it’s really exciting to see,” she said.
Truman described the tight-knit nature of the artist community and how they plan to make the most of the excellent weather for a successful season. Collaboration is key – market organizers in Gainesville this year made a master calendar of events so they wouldn’t overlap and work to spread the word around town.
“We all share vendors; we all promote each other’s events,” she said. “It’s been really wonderful.”
Despite the vast number of artists in the community, their relationships defied hyper-competitive expectations. Booth operators would take breaks to visit and chat with their friend at the table next to theirs. Many collaborated on projects to create an even more unique piece, showing off the talent and care put into every fruit of their labors.
Jessica Foster, the owner of Design by JessAnne, had many collaboration pieces on display. Everything from candles with scents inspired by her art to kaleidoscopic resin incense holders showcased a joint effort to get creative.
“There’s not that competition of ‘oh, you have to be my client and not their client’…it’s quite beautiful,” said Foster. “The more we do together, the more it gets out there that local is a sustainable option.”
This strong sense of community also provides an incentive for college students to get involved outside university life and seek out Gainesville as a more permanent home.
Amelia Langford got her undergraduate degree in microbiology and cell science at the University of Florida. She looks to the natural Floridian environment for inspiration in her scientific sketching.
“I’ve always loved foraging,” she said. “And a lot of the stuff I draw I also like to research.” Her black-and-white sketches of local mushroom species, frogs and bugs exhibit a unique cross-section between science and art centered around Gainesville’s unique flora and fauna. Being involved in different spheres within the community promoted a joyful connection to the world and the people in it for Langford.
“It’s been fun to work on different projects and see how everyone has a different process for making art and what inspires them,” she said.
The artist’s market scene is also a way for new makers to get support in starting their businesses. Reggie Nelson, the owner of Daily Burn Candle Studio, created his business in April of 2021.
“I actually worked in insurance for ten years as a claim adjuster,” he said. “I got complacent with working a 9 to 5, but doing this, it really opened up a whole new world for me.”
While working from home during the pandemic, he started to get headaches from the candles he burned. Realizing he had an allergy to the paraffin wax in candles he had bought from large retail stores, he decided to embrace the promotion of organic, vegan soy-based candles with scents inspired by his love of music. Surrounded by the sea salt, amber and oakmoss scent of the “Dream Lover, I Sea You,” candle burning at his fall-themed booth, his easy smiles and genial attitude reflected his new view of the world.
“I have a lot of fun,” he said.
Attending events like yesterday’s helped Nelson establish confidence in his business and within himself. He talked about the community and how he has met more friends in the past year and a half of operating his business than he had in the eight years he’d lived in Gainesville before.
“I owe it all to the support of everyone here,” he said.
The soft autumn breeze and sunshine of the lazy Sunday afternoon echoed the sentiment shared by all those at the event – it was a good day to smile and enjoy art with friends.