Artists seek to attract young buyers

Richard Lamartine and Valerie Martin sell beeswax candles, handmade angels, wreaths, and other Christmas crafts. They support other artists through their gallery, Harvest Moon.  |  Robyn Tocker photo

MEACHAM, Sask. — Craft shows remain popular in Saskatchewan, but there is a growing concern about the appreciation for handmade items.

Ferron Olynyk, member services co-ordinator for the Saskatchewan Craft Council, said sales for their craft shows have been consistent.

“But we’re seeing some people who have bought for years and years and years now at the point where they’re downsizing,” she said.

“We’re trying to encourage younger people who haven’t been traditional craft buyers to get them into the market,” said Olynyk.

The SCC holds three craft shows a year. The Waterfront Craft Art Market and the Saskatchewan Hand Craft Festival are both held in the summer while the Wintergreen Fine Craft Market is the winter sale. This year, sales were similar to other years for Wintergreen and Olynyk said marketers were happy with the weekend.

“It’s hard to say overall what the most popular items were, but some things that come to mind are functional pottery, glass ornaments, and jewelry,” said Olynyk.

Artist Richard Lamartine and his wife, Valerie Martin, run Harvest Moon, an art gallery in Meacham, Sask. They have participated at Sask-atoon’s Waterfront show in the past and had a booth at the Christmas Craft Fair at the Western Development Museum in Saskatoon.

When asked about people’s interest in more expensive, handcrafted art compared to the $4 mugs at discount stores, Lamartine said he is concerned about the younger generation.

“How many kids really get any sense of how art is created anymore?”

Olynyk said while there are some who do have a deep appreciation, it’s still important to educate people on why handcrafted art is important.

“Buying a mug for someone at Walmart is not very exciting, but going and selecting something handmade that’s the right fit for their hand and the right colour, people really appreciate it,” said Olynyk.

“I think there’s always an appreciation for someone who can create something lovely,” said Martin. “There’s no question it’s a different world out there for the makers.”

In their gallery, Lamartine and Martin sell products from crafters across Canada for $3 to $20 and up. They are in their 60s and mainly focus their attention on their shop and art.

“It’s a wonderful life to live out in the country,” Martin said.

There are challenges that come with running a rural business, but the couple say they have a good client base and hope to see it grow.

“We just try to find things that are quality, well-made that we like and we think other people would enjoy,” he said.

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