August 26th, 2010 5:33 pm | by Sarah Davidson Retailtherapist | Posted In: Shopping

RETAIL THERAPIST: I Heart Art Mixer Match

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Pacific Northwest College of Art, Etsy and the Museum of Contemporary Craft are teaming up as I Heart Art, a pilot project that supports Portland's craft community. In an effort to foster relationships between makers and sellers, they're hosting an event called Mixer Match on Wednesday, Sept. 1 at Design Within Reach.

"It's basically speed dating for crafters," said Vanessa Bertozzi, Etsy's director of education and community. I Heart Art asks makers to come prepared with an elevator pitch for potential Portland buyers like Radish Underground, Sword + Fern, Tender Loving Empire and more.

There's limited space for makers, and applications are only available until Friday at Even if crafters don't get a space, they can attend the party, where they can have drinks with business professionals who can give them tips on how to make it in this burgeoning industry.

The business of independent artists and crafters have grown dramatically over the past two years. In 2008, consumers spent a total of $88 million on Etsy's site. By 2009, spending had increased to $180 million. Halfway through 2010, consumers have spent $130 million.

Bertozzi, who was in Portland recently for the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) conference (the theme this year was DIY), said people in cities like Portland know a lot about art, but the growing Etsy community is inspiring for people in rural towns who may be the only ones interested in manufacturing their own handmade crafts.

"In many small towns across America, there's nothing but the mall," Bertozzi said. "This is a creative community for them." She also mentioned that the recession has led people to begin thinking of more creative ways to earn money and manufacture products.

Bertozzi said that I Heart Art Mixer Match event will hopefully create more connections among people who are part of that community in Portland.

"It's empowering," she said. "People feel more connected to the world around them if they're getting their hands a little dirty."
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